September, for years, has been the month where habits are recalibrated. School calendars are given priority. Bedtimes are earlier. Food becomes heartier. We accept the punchlist of things we did not get around to- power washing the deck, or planting tomatoes. We forgive ourselves, and roll over the wish list for “next year.” I always take this weekend to give thanks for the dazzling moments, and to lob a big prayer to the skies above that I will get another chance at the punch list. I never take these things for granted. Mom would say it’s the Irish in me.
And as the most glorious season of Autumn leads us to hibernation, we struggle to freeze frame every perfect moment. A sunset, a great meal- it can be the tiniest confluence of smell and sound. We need to archive them to get us to next Spring. This summer, I had a big spindle for my “did not do” list. That is a bad choice. And so today, as the rhythm of life subtly shifts, I just want to dwell on my good fortune.
I was able to plant my flowers, courtesy of a new knee. I shared the joy of brides at weddings, and mothers to be at showers. I went to baseball games before the Sox were silly. Frolicked in Chicago with friends. I had the family come home to swim and eat. I had a bannister installed on my staircase so I can preserve my new knee. I created a sleeping space for my Grandson-to be. I was at Northwestern the night my first Grandchild was born. I saw a healthy Henry, and a new family. Held his precious new life in my arms, remembering my three babies. I spent every night curved together with the great love of my life. I read books. Improvised through 2 extended power failures. Finally learned the way to Pat and Rachel’s so I could babysit. Ate fresh tomatoes and Mirai corn with marinated flank steak. Had pizza at Stop 50 in Michiana. Was comforted by the steady snoring of a “tamer at 10” Mabel, while Milly used me as a pillow. Spent a week in New Buffalo alone with Steve.
The alone part is new. My kids are scattered this holiday- Mike is heading home from Italy, where he and Kathryn are traveling before life tames them. Pat and Rachel are at Green Lake, Wisconsin, with her parents. Matt and Justine have a stuffed calendar a Lake Geneva wedding, Pet Lions gig. I miss them all, but the quiet time with Steve is one of life’s late-in-life gifts.
When the kids went to camp, Steve and I would camp out in New Buffalo. For a week or two, we would revert to being “a couple” instead of “parents”. We were relaxed, and unstructured. Steve knew I missed the boys, so he would work to keep me happy. This retreat gave us hints that under the relentless scheduling and schlepping, refereeing and monitoring that parenthood brings, there is a sturdy place to come back to. I am there now, wherever I am. For this, I embrace the gifts of summer most of all.
On to Fall…..