Friday, August 26, 2005

Glorious Blue

Staples has forever earned me as a loyal customer, since that first commercial with the father dancing down the school supplies aisle to the theme music, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I said, now there is a marketing rep who knows their customer base.

When my four children return to school, it is quite a momentous occasion for me. Anticipating it lifts my mood further with each passing week of August. Like most things in life, the anticipation can be better than the reality. I felt slightly blue yesterday morning when I realized dd#3’s toothless grin would not be popping into my peripheral vision at any point for the next six hours.

After 16.5 years of full-time motherhood, last August I felt the peace and pleasure of time to myself, when my last child entered the school doors for a full-day of book learning. I was giddy with excitement, didn’t know what or where to celebrate first. It was the color of blue so pale it looks white until you hold it up to the true white. Just a hint of blue, as I realized I’d never return to the preschooler days. Mostly, it was glorious.

This year, after a full-year of sanity-saving solitude, mental health-inducing quietude, and mind-centering hours of privacy each week, I feel slightly more blue.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still feeling the glories. The glories of a cup of tea with only the dog to watch me sip and nibble and contemplate. The glories of straightening a room and it staying that way for SIX full hours, an unbelievable feat of domesticity during prior years. The glories of writing for days at a time, taking up my dream I’ve had on hold for so many years of writing a novel, learning and growing in this occupation I’m trying to adopt. Many more glories than not.

But this August I feel a slightly darker blue. Maybe the blue of a pale sheer curtain, blowing against a sunny window. An almost imperceptible increase in the saturation level of the blue. Because the more time you spend away from your children, the better you can appreciate them. I feel like repeating that one. I look at my daughter and think wouldn’t it be great if she was my only child. If I could have all four children, but raise them each one at a time. Because individually they are gifted, loving, creative, funny, wise and my baby.

So this time, the celebration was a little shorter, and I had a visioin of future Augusts, as each year, my glorious feelings ever-so-slightly dim, and my blue feelings gradually deepen to sky, then royal, then somewhere down the line, a cobalt blue. Having time alone maybe won’t be the glorious high it is today.

But for today, I’m still celebrating. And I’m writing again. My office is cleaned up, my desk reorganized, my files all filed. I am ready to start on another nine-month odyssey as I delve further into my second novel. Nine months that is, until summer, and the four children, return to the center of my universe.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dog Days of Summer

August is one of my least favorite times of year, also known in my journaling as "Limbo-land". Limboland to a controlling type such as myself provides me with a single-minded goal: to escape, and return to 'Pretending to have control' land.

Even when I was seven or eight years old, I didn't like August. The wading pool was limp, and the water tepid. The toads and tadpoles and lightening bugs had lost their zing weeks earlier. We'd played tag and ridden bikes one too many times, and everyone was blah-ed out. I'd ring on doorbells and instead of "Mom, can I play with Toni?" I'd get glazed eyes, a lifted lip, and "It's kinda hot out, isn't it?" The hours ticked by as slowly as the brownish grass grew. The days were survived with games of tic tac toe in a cool-ish garage or resorting to the basement to watch my mother iron shirts.

As an adult, and a mother, August has that same flavor, of Sunday evenings, of a large, slightly unpleasant task looming ahead. The back-to-school weeks. Now, I love school supplies as much as the next person, but when forced to spend half my grocery money for the week on highly priced dry erase markers or calculators or sports fees, I'm grouchy. Other than school supplies shopping, our one bright spot, we are soaked with anxiety. We are waiting to hear which teacher child #3 got, and who is in her class. We are wondering if we can find our way around the new school, as we get promoted. We wonder if we'll find our scheduled classes and hate our teacher. Limbo, wondering, waiting. So much of the next nine months depends on how smoothly things go over the next couple of weeks.

You might wonder what this has to do with becoming a published author? Let me clue you in: nothing. I've got the dog days bad. Instead of writing, I'm in limboland, waiting to see if everyone survives the next three weeks. Instead of querying, I am cleaning bedrooms and trying to find last year's protractor. Instead of revising, I am dreaming, of September. That luscious month when my regular writing schedule returns, along with the slam of those school doors, with my precious but chaotic offspring on the other side. In my daydreams, I'm driving away from the school, back home, to my writing nook, to meet an old friend--Toni the writer.