I ordered monogrammed backpacks from LL Bean for the first day of school. Frances and George picked out their own styles, although I was initially hesitant to let them. If it were up to me, they would have gotten sensible solid colors that transfer well from year to year (because if you know LL Bean like I know them, you’ll remember their backpacks will last a good five years or more). But I also remember my own mother letting me pick out my backpack color (back then, from their thick fall catalog rather than the online store) and the thrill I had in knowing I had some small say in what would ultimately become my lifeline from home to school—my trusty backpack.
Frances’s Kindergarten starts in less than a month and I find myself wavering between excited (for her) and heartbroken (for me). I’m so sad to see this wonderful summer come to an end—particularly now that August is here and we’ve finally gotten into an easy, happy routine. I’m sad that once Kindergarten starts, school schedules, vacations, homework (eeks!), extracurricular activities and a million other unknowns will be dictating our time. But a part of me is excited to have a little of “me” back. George will be going to preschool a whopping six hours a week (two three-hour days), but I already have many overly ambitious plans to accomplish in those first weeks of alone time (the first of which is to paint our dated brick fireplace white. Very, VERY excited about this one and I desperately hope it’s not a complete disaster).
In the wake of raising these incredibly wonderful children, I seem to have lost a little of my spark. I still love to read, write this blog, and run (um, maybe), but our trip to Spain reminded me just how much of the world is out there and just how much I have yet to see, taste, smell and just experience. I want the kids with me for some, if not most, of that; but I also need to have the energy and the drive to try some of it alone. And I’m not even referring to more globe-trotting (although that would be wonderful!); just the desire to accomplish something on a weekly/monthly basis that isn’t productive or useful. These days, my first inclination with any free time is to do something for the family—groceries, clean, cook, check one more item off the master to-do list. And I think those are important and good instincts when you’re a full-time mother. But I used to view free time much differently; I used to love other aspects of life, of Richmond, and of my family other than what can I do for it (and what it can do for me). I used to read Southern Living regularly, I used to peruse Barnes & Noble like it was going out of business the next day, I used to watch or even (gasp!) go to the movies, I used to take long walks in unfamiliar but inviting neighborhoods and make mental notes about the beautiful yards and houses I would see. Before Pinterest, before Facebook, before blogs, I enjoyed (rather than envied) soaking up life around me and didn’t let my mind wander to what I should be doing instead.
And now I have to smile – I truly did not start this post as a “get the passion back in your life” pep talk, but that’s where I ended up. I realize now that with school around the corner, I will soon have more unstructured, un-kid time than I have had since law school and I’m a little nervous of productive burnout. Come fall, if I do happen to find myself knee deep in Costco errands and vacuum cleaner cords I may need to reread my own words and review my pictures of Spain to regain some clarity. Just like with kids, some of the most magical things happen when we (adults) allow ourselves to be bored. Or at the very least, curled up in a leather B&N chair with a Starbucks in our hands and a book in our laps.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!