The house is quiet. No television, no radio, no video games – nothing but the gentle snoring of the dog at my feet, and the jagged purring of the house cat who sleeps undisturbed in the seat of the easy chair. Outside a steady rain announces the end of summer and the start of a new school year. A few orange leaves waft past my open window, pulled free by recent storms from the small maple in our yard. One sticks to the screen and flutters weakly for a moment or two before a puff of wind sends it on its way.
School has started, and the house is quiet again, a soothing lull after three months of almost frenetic activity. Today new shoes were laced and new backpacks were stuffed with unused pencils and crisp sheets of binder paper. Hair was styled and restyled until it was deemed acceptable. The remnants of breakfast were left on the table, milk warm and Cheerios soggy, as nervous stomachs found it impossible to finish those final spoonfuls of cereal.
Summer is over. The calendar might not announce the start of autumn until September 22, but that is only a technicality. Once school begins, the seasons change and our lives change with it. For the kids, days spent under the glow of warm sunlight will be replaced with the routine of school and the glare of fluorescent lighting. As for me, life becomes quieter – at least during the hours that school is in session. The evening will become prime time for “Mom’s Taxi Service,” as I chauffer children to practices and games, to church youth groups and trips to the library. Dinner served fresh off the grill in the waning summer sunlight will be replaced with hurried meals scheduled between band practices and school events. The rhythm of our days will adjust to the demands of teachers and schedules, to homework and meetings. Earlier bedtimes will be the norm, and alarm clocks will sound for the first time in months.
Despite their vocalized dismay at summer’s end, the kids seem energized, and ready to focus on all the coming school year offers. Friends that were rarely seen over the long summer will become important again, and favorite teachers will be greeted with enthusiasm. Summer’s freedom might be lost, but the new school year offers opportunity and challenge, friends and fun.
Tonight the kids will come home, hot and tired, with a stack of homework – for me. I’ll spend my evening filling out forms for the nurse and signing permission slips for teachers. Odds are good that at least one of them will have fundraiser forms in their backpack as they try to raise money for the PTA or the Spanish Club or some other school opportunity. They’ll be tired and maybe cranky, and they will keep interrupting each other as they fight to be the first to tell me of all the changes at school this year, about the new kid and their favorite teacher, about the lousy lunches and who already got into trouble – on the first day, Mom, can you believe it??
I’m ready. Ready for the blessed peace after the kids leave for school in the morning (I wrote this entire blog post without a single interruption!), and ready for the crazy activity after school each day. I enjoyed our summer of fun, but like my children, I’m ready for a change, and I’m more than a little excited: What will the coming year hold for me? What new events will shape and change my own life? I will enjoy hours of solitude each day, allowing me to focus on my own goals with precision – writing and submitting short stories and articles, and perhaps even polishing up one of my old novel rough drafts. With plenty of alone time to focus on my work, the only thing stopping me is, well, me. Let’s hope I get out of my own way.
Happy New (School) Year! Here’s to new adventures – for all of us.