Where did summer go? This was my first summer off since I was in school. Yeah, that was a long time ago! I know I felt so relaxed, I enjoyed the weather, I actually have tan lines (the best ones on my feet – but that counts!). I had big ideas – most seem to have fallen to the “One-Day-Some-Day” list. It really did feel like it slipped right by in a blur.
In that blur, some things stand out. Alexandra got her own place, and moved out, to get ready to tackle college again. Michael got his first job as a host, and looks so spiffy in all black with a fun tie. Jack wound down the intensity and just chilled out….he found a new appreciation for Latin, and went into this school year a different young man. Tommy has now read every Calvin and Hobbes book twelve times. Peter went to summer day camp – on his own – and loved it! Figuring out that certain things only happen on a given day of the week has been the impetus he needed to work on “days”. Going to the gym on Friday is anticipated with much joy, and has taught him that he can’t move the days of the week around no matter how hard he tries. Gretchen became a fish. While the other kiddos in her swim class refused to put their heads under water, G found pleasure in making it to the bottom of the pool and then slowly floating up. Yes, she looks like a corpse. And better yet, Peter does the same thing. I don’t know what people think when I am dazing at two face-down floating bodies in the little kids pool.
Many of the extraordinary activities never came to fruition, but the sum of the ordinary events made this summer extraordinary. And I experienced the season I’ve heard of so often, but didn’t get to witness in my basement office with no windows. Yes, Catherine, there is a summer!
The school year is bringing on a new normal for us. Alexandra is started back up in college, with a long term plan to become a nurse. She is thinking seriously about pediatric oncology, and I think she would be an amazing gift to the kids and families that must go down that path. We know from experience that nurses are THE BOMB – they make the unbearable bearable, and are capable of so much compassion. They inspire me!
Michael is now a Senior in HS. He has received one college offer, and we are expecting two more in the upcoming weeks. No top choice for schools yet, so much more to come there. Jack is a 7th grader now, and gets driven to school by his big brother. May not be a big deal to him, but it is a monumental event in my book. Hmmm….maybe Michael needs to stay in town so he can continue his duty to family and school?!
Peter started 2nd grade. His enthusiasm for school is still strong, and he can run down the driveway shouting “da bus, da bus” in a way that invokes confusing flash backs to “Fantasy Island”. Bless you, young folks, that have no clue what I am referencing. My traditionally angelic child, has let his little devil come out at school a few times. That sweet spot under the play set that no normal sized adult can reach, is a great place to sit and laugh at the world. Lucky for Peter, he has some peers in his 2nd grade class that have his back, and coaxed him out before there was big trouble. He is still really struggling with handwriting, and he is being given opportunity to practice some keyboarding, as we may need to move in that direction sooner rather than later. Peter has however mastered lowering people’s expectations of him. Sigh. He can count well past 10 when necessary, but has figured out that if he counts 1-2-3-5, you will stop and reinforce 1 through 5 over and over again to ensure he nails down that 4. See what he just did? Low cognitive skills…..I think NOT!
The biggest change has been for Tommy and Gretchen, that are homeschooling this year. Monday – Thursday they are with me at home (or where ever we decide to take the class that day). On Fridays they participate in a STEM program offered by our school district. We are still finding our rhythm, but so far I’m loving it! Tommy struggled with losing the opportunity to be with his friends on a daily basis, but has found the upsides of homeschooling. He must whisper them to Jack. First Jack said, “You need to stop doing so many fun things with Tommy, it is hard for those of us that have to go to school.” Followed by, “I’ve been thinking, I believe it would be better for me if you homeschooled me too.” Tommy’s Math was beyond the curriculum we have, so we have moved him up a grade level there. However, his punctuation needs working and I am so not the right person – I enjoy using punctuation for my own selfish purpose void of rules! Gretchen is working on reading and telling time, but her favorite event is the weekly playdate she has had with our neighbor’s grandson. She loves the crafts! Clearly I need to spend more time on Pinterest……. it intimidates the heck out of me!
Fall is in the air. My 5:30am emergency run to the grocery store last week actually felt more like winter! I have a love-hate relationship with this time of the year. I love the crisp mornings and colorful leaves. I love snuggling up in the evening and feeling the end of each day. However, every year for as many years back that I can remember, something big and hard, has happened during this time of the year. Peter’s multiple diagnosis/illnesses and his time on the ventilator, my mom’s death, my father-in-laws death, and so much more. I am at the time of the year when I brace myself for the other shoe to drop. And I pray there are no more shoes to drop!
Someone asked me recently about how I got through all that we have with Peter. I think I disappointed. The truth is, there is nothing amazing that I’ve got figured out and my prayer life leaves a lot to be desired. I am far from the poster child of any way to handle challenges. But what I did share is that from the moment of Peter’s pre-natal diagnosis, I have held on to the belief that we all have a God given purpose, a higher purpose. That purpose may be met in a day, a week, a year, or a century – that is not up to me to understand or decide. Believing in that purpose, that greater good, is what makes the journey possible. I have no magical answer, but what I did add was that every day I work to make sure my faith is bigger than my fear. Just that simple, I keep my faith bigger than my fear. I think “believe the purpose is bigger than the shoe” would have made me sound crazier than I already sound!
So here we are, on the cusp of a new season. Time to look back and reflect. Our ordinary lives have given us many extraordinary memories. The truth is that we have much to be thankful for as a family. We have SO much to be thankful for as a family! It is so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day, to believe we do not have enough. Or, more likely, to believe that we are not enough. The endless spiral that so easily distracts us from our reality. Regardless of the challenges that lay before us, the truth is that we have so much more than we ever need. Knowing that, may we all reflect on the dignity of every human life. May we find ways to protect and support those robbed of their human dignity in any and all stages of life. May we put aside color, religion, gender, political affiliation, and all other ways of sub-segmenting humanity, and truly respect all lives. All lives matter.
Happy Pumpkin Spice Latte season to you all!