On middle school
September arrived with a bang, as I knew it would.
Though it can admittedly be a love-hate relationship I have with being busy, mostly I enjoy having days that are full of activity and purpose.
That first morning where I am finally home alone in front of my computer sans kids with a full cup of tea by my side,
ready to work on my own projects and catch up,
George was very quickly happy and settled with his new teacher but Olivia and I found ourselves dealing with the realities of
another year of middle school.
This year’s transition was easier than last year’s as she is in grade 7 now,
but sending my daughter off to school can feel a bit like sending her to the wolves to possibly be devoured every day (especially if I am to believe her version of things),
This is all despite the fact that Olivia goes to a fantastic middle school that I admire in a thousand ways and even affectionately refer to as ‘the Disneyland of schools’,
so high is the staff’s level of energy, creativity, and commitment to kids.
Still, it’s middle school.
I don’t think I really need to launch into an explanation of why this is a crazy and complex period of life.
I read a quote in the September issue of Real Simple that said it so well, ‘Negotiating the politics of middle school girls? If ever there was a situation where a mother was utterly powerless, this was it. ‘ Jenny Rosenstrach
It’s a whole new and complicated world of sudden higher academic and peer expectations, all to be navigated during the most awkward of stages in the most socially ruthless of places.
yes, and yet….
We are headed into the third week and our girl is okay, despite some anxiety.
She has found a few solid friends,
her little net of safety.
She loves her options this term, and we are again in the process of firmly creating this year’s plan to manage accommodations for her dyslexia (a whole other massive topic that I will write about soon).
It’s still hard though.
These are the parenting years of beginning to let go after only just figuring out how to hold on to her properly,
and she herself wants to be treated like an adult one minute and nurtured the next.
It is a roller coaster of managing her needs and reactions, moods and feelings,
and my own too.
It sometimes seems as if I write about all sorts of topics but there are only ever a few poignant themes,
one of them being
Trusting that all will be well. Always.
She/we will get through middle school, of course,
and we will also revel in the lightness of it all too – the unbridled energy, the consuming dramas, the huge passion, the humor,
and the inevitable life lessons for us both,
A big move
I have often thought about how, when you lose a mother,
part of the grief is dealing with the reality of no longer getting to be a daughter.
Mothering when you are beautifully mothered yourself is easier, more companionable,
and is almost like a team-sport ~
Mothering without a mother is learning to stand on your own.
Please understand that there have been infinite gifts from my mom’s death, one of them for me being
having to stand on my own.
I heard news this past weekend that my dad and stepmother, Elsie, are moving away.
In a multitude of ways, this news hit me hard.
My father and my step-mother love me very much, love all of us very much,
but I have realized this week that it is time for them to go.
They need to stand on their own too, build a new life together, experience change and rejuvenation,
release and renew.
With their big news, it was hard for me not to feel as if I was being abandoned again, but I am wise enough to know that there is
really no such thing,
and that we must all stretch and grow
So, I whole-heartedly wish them happiness, fortune and peace
and look so forward to watching their new lives unfold,
all of our lives unfold.
A New Bed
Perhaps my ego expected my articles to be more earth-shattering than mere descriptions of the trivialities of life.
Yet, as this peace project continues, here is what I continue to realize….
This is all there is, and these are the things that ultimately matter.
When I am eighty, I may very well find myself retelling with deep fondness my memories
of George and his friend making up after a fight by bumping tummies,
of how I looked forward to the lilacs in the Spring,
or of how I never minded my kids taking sick days.
These will be the stories of my life.
This week my unexpected heart-swelling moment occurred the morning after George slept his first night on a new mattress that he had helped us pick out~
To be clear, he is sleeping on the floor,
we haven’t even gotten it together enough yet to buy him a new bed to fit a double mattress,
but I had been promising him for months that we would move him into a bigger bed to fit his growing body.
So, when I went into his room to wake him up for school that first morning after he had slept on his new mattress,
I found him lying there awake with the BIGGEST grin on his face.
He said, Mom,
take off my covers and LOOK at me!
And there he lay,
arms and legs splayed out as a 9-year-old boy-starfish,
delightfully reveling in all of his glorious new-found room.
These, I am so certain, are the sweetest moments to savor.