Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday's Words for September 8, 2010

I can’t believe how very quickly the summer has passed. Yes, I know that according to the calendar we still have another couple of weeks till the end of the season. But the truth is, autumn is here, calendar or no. This year, where I am, the weather actually changed on August 16th. In autumn, the blue of the sky is lighter than in summer. There’s a scent to the air, too, a kind of fresh crispness summer lacks, and the first few leaves change almost immediately. All these things I noticed on that specific day last month.

In years past, in my mind at any rate, there were three events that heralded the end of summer. The first was the opening of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. This large fair always begins two weeks before Labor Day; the second was the Jerry Lewis Telethon. We never missed one when the kids were small, but these last few years haven’t been able to find it; and the third was the beginning of the new school year. This last precursor, in this neck of the woods, has always been the day after Labor Day.

I know that how fast a season, day, or year passes is all perception. I just feel that time moves faster the older we get. It was hot this year, hotter than in the last few summers. We had a lot of days of scorching temps and very high humidity. Right now, it’s cooled off a fair bit and I for one am glad of it. It was so hot and humid these last couple of months that the small, old hardwood floor in my entrance hallway—not in great shape by any means—now has a couple of warped boards.

With the passing of summer comes the sense of returning to normal. I can imagine for stay-at-home moms, this must be particularly true. You love your children, of course, and love spending time with them. But it doesn’t take too many rainy afternoons and complaints that “there’s nothing to do” to put a smile on mom’s face when the school bell finally rings.

I still recall the day when all of my children got on the school bus for the very first time. As I stood at the end of the driveway, watching the bus move out of sight, I actually giggled.

Those were busy days, raising kids. I have a sense of that again as we pitch in with our two youngest grandchildren. When our second daughter has a night shift at the hospital, she can relax knowing the children are here with us. Last night was a flurry of baths, dessert, teeth brushing and bed—all before eight-thirty. Of course, they didn’t settle right down. They were both very excited about going to school this year, as it’s a new school for both of them, and they made friends over the summer and so won’t be alone.

You don’t get many do-overs in life. But if you’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play a role in the raising of your grandchildren, that comes as close to a do-over as anything I can name. There are no perfect parents of course, and I think we all have a regret or two of what we did or did not do in raising our own kids. You’re human, and you can’t avoid that.

I can recall that too many times I was so tired that I didn’t pay attention with my whole heart when my kids would chatter about what to them was very important stuff. I didn’t have a lot of patience either for their silliness or, to put it another way, their childishness.

Well I’m still pretty tired, but I’m learning to set that aside and pay attention more. When I feel ‘frazzle’ trying to creep in, I remind myself that life is really short and unpredictable, and I need to seize these joyous moments with both hands and hang on tight.

And I remind myself that the greatest success I can ever hope to achieve lies in the quality of the memories my grandchildren will have of me.


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