The sunrise today was at 7:14 am. After months of opening our eyes in the morning to a blue sky already awake, the last weeks of summer have slowly crept to a close.
Now the morning sky is gray, waiting for the sun, and there is a quiet anticipation of warm sweaters and candlelight. Our swimsuits have been put away. There are pumpkins on my table and spicy orange scones and muffins baking in the oven. The shadows of autumn, with frost-flecked windows and early afternoon sunsets, set a stage for other stories.
The creeping darkness feels full of possibilities, like an evening that is hushed but not yet awake.
How does darkness do that? What does daylight dream about, when it is prematurely put to bed?
In the courtyard outside our kitchen window, I hear little voices shrieking as they ride tricycles and bang their feet on the slide. Their parents look tired, and I remember those days when we couldn’t say to ourselves we were tired, because otherwise we might not make it. With toddlers, the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away!
Now, I realize that this long tunnel is a distortion. The tunnel really isn’t that long.
I see my neighbors in their office clothes pushing strollers to preschool before work, and I remember those tired mornings like it was yesterday. Now at the other end of the tunnel, I have two kids walking beside me to the bus stop, with violins banging against their knees. I haven’t carried anyone in years. The rhythm of our life, like the season, has changed.
It is a rhythm of birthday parties on the weekends, which sometimes means hours without Jake and Eli. It means not getting home from swim practice until 6pm, and not thinking twice about my kids riding the tram alone. It means writing a speech and running for Student Council. It means not buying school clothes online anymore because they want to pick out their own things. Our new rhythm requires deodorant every day and tablet computers brought back and forth to school, and math homework that is getting complicated. It includes wondering if I’m the only parent who thinks it’s weird for my son to be invited to a sleepover at a girl’s house?
The change is so slow it’s imperceptible. Yet here we are, in a version of life we thought would never come, following a version of life we thought would never end.
This new version has homemade Slime…
and coffee and doughnuts on the weekend….
and our own DJ for dinner parties.
I don’t know what I hoped for when they were babies, but I didn’t know it could be as fun as this! I was always so afraid of what might happen next, and that I wouldn’t know how to do it. I wanted to cling to the rhythm we already knew.
But if we cling to the old routines, then we never learn the joys of new ones.
It must be part of the human condition to be blinded to the stage we’re actually in. Looking back we can see where the struggles were, and feel proud that somehow we made it. Like the dark mornings of Autumn, maybe they make it hard to get out of bed, but they also bring the warm glow of candlelit holidays and remind us of everything we’ve done right. So we can safely put our feet up, maybe even sleep, in the cozy glow of something familiar and safe.