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A New School Year, New Beginnings

Time to Reflect

Today I am on vacation and happily spending the day napping, reading a beach novel, making homemade guacamole, tending to my daughter’s splinter and bug bites and enjoying a gorgeous morning walk with my hubby. We got up early and walked to the local grocery store and by surprise we met the friends we are staying with and both of us simultaneously said, “Great minds think alike!” Right now our friends are busy making homemade clam chowder from quahogs they all caught while I was napping.

Life is rarely this way. Usually the problems are bigger than splinters and ‘relaxation’ feels like a foreign word, something only people who are lucky enough to live in Mediterranean climates understand.

By the time this is published school will be upon us again. I am hoping for a normal year and wondering if that is too greedy of a thing to expect. The last decade has been filled with excitement and loss but at least I have all the trimmings of a middle class American life. Overall I am so lucky. I understand this and relish in my good fortune more and more.

Still, for the longest time I felt like I was on the outside looking in: the adult orphan in a land where most still had parents, the single mom in Mayberry who had the ugly divorce, the poor(er) American relative of wealthy British landed gentry, and the one who got cancer younger than most.

I didn’t feel like I was pitiful, except one terrible year when there was a tornado, a hurricane and two terribly sick men I loved, (my new husband and my Father) and I really felt like Job. Mostly I felt like a survivor though. When I said my last ‘Goodbye’ to my Father I said “Thank you” to him for many of the attributes he had given me and as I left I added, “Oh yeah and thank you for teaching me to be good in a crisis.” He winked and smiled as I left the room heartbroken, but still intact, knowing that he knew I would survive this too.

September always feels to me like another ending and another beginning, much more like the New Year than the one we celebrate in January. After all the upheaval of the last decade I think its time for a smooth transition to Fall. My eldest will be a Junior in college, my middle child will be starting college and my youngest is starting 4th grade. They are all healthy and if I do say so myself, beautiful, inside and out, not perfect of course, but finding their own way. I want a decade to enjoy watching them unfold. No cancer. No traumas. No floods. No recessions. No divorces. No terrible accidents. No unexpected crises that I have forgotten to list here!

Instead, I want homecomings that are joyful, partings that are tender and loving, creativity and education, and times of deep connection where we share what we are learning and have created. I don’t want too much drama, but will happily be there to kiss boo boos and help mend broken hearts. I want my children to find success and happiness also. I want to have enough money and time to make delicious meals for everyone and go on more vacations. I want to live a lot longer than my parents.

Is that too much to ask? My Father once accused me of being “selfish” and “greedy” because I wanted diamond earrings. I saw other girls at college getting these things from their Fathers and thought they were expressions of love, but this is not how he saw it! It has been hard for me to let myself want things since then.

Its not that I forget the hardships of others, not ever. Its not that I do not spend lots of my time and money helping others through hardship. Its not that I don’t think I will survive hardship. It’s that I am tired of it! But perhaps I keep forgetting what Shakespeare knew and wrote about so eloquently long ago:

“Oh benefit of ill! now I find true That better is, by evil still made better; And ruin’d love, when it is built anew, Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater. So I return rebuked to my content, And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.”

On the one hand, if it were up to me I’d stick with the ‘thrice more’ I have today and be content with that! On the other, I love reading this sonnet and feeling reassured that somehow, if Shakespeare was writing about this in such a beautiful and wise way so long ago, it makes it feel like it must be true which feels very comforting, like it will all be good, whether we have a smooth transition through all the upcoming changes or a rough one, like nothing can really hurt us. It will all be good. Maybe even three times as good as we expect. Even though, if it were up to me, I’d still be happy to stick with ‘content’ for as long as possible. Wink.

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