Sunday, August 27, 2017

Not Ready for Summer Break to be Done

My writing in this space usually slows down in the summer, but this year takes the cake. Don't feel special, though, lots of things fell by the wayside! The calendar in my kitchen that the girls use to track special days and appointments still says it is July. The novels we undertook reading with the promise of a late-night swim upon completion are only half done, and it is too cold at night to swim in the pool anymore. There is only a week left of summer and over a dozen Summer 2017 bucket list items we didn't complete. 

Throughout the summer, Abby had soccer three or four times a week, the other girls played Fridays. I worked part-time, but instead of two shifts a week, it was three or four to cover other people's holidays. We took our own holidays, and hosted family visiting from away. We did an extra little trip to Niagara Falls, and a cottage weekend with family in Quebec. These dictated the shape of our summer plans a little more than in years past, and the difference has left me feeling a little unprepared to say goodbye to summer break, like there is still so much I want to do. 

I wrote back in the spring that Rich was back to work after a long, difficult few months battling the symptoms of a particularly bad concussion, writing that the worst was behind us. The universe disagreed, as it is entitled to do, and threw us a few setbacks. He was hurt at work again and has not been back to work since May. He suffers deeply. It is really hard to watch, and I can't fix it. It has now been over a year, and there are many hard days. He is here with us, supported by a great medical team, and thankfully our support network has been largely understanding when we bow out of certain social engagements or other fun-sounding plans.

The girls and I went on adventures to give Rich quiet time at home, when possible. 
I will not remember this summer for the fun popsicles we made, or the trips to the Secret Pond, or making rhubarb custard pie. I hope the kids will. Thankfully, I have these pictures from my stepmother, and a few I remembered to take myself. We hang them in our kitchen where the girls see them and recall adventures at the beach, eating ice cream, and learning to dive to the bottom of the pool. I will remember this as the summer that never got very hot, that required a lot of soul-searching, that took me by the shoulders and shook me hard, begging me to notice the beauty in small every day things so that those brief moments could sustain through the fog of uncertainty.

 There is always a take-away and this is mine: I am better when I can find stillness. Not all the time, but in the chaos, the crying, the kid whining, the sister fighting, the long days, the missed opportunities, the exhaustion. I am better when I can find or make some stillness and soak in it. I can leapfrog between these found moments, these lily pads offering refuge from the craziness. They are enough, and I can coast on their powerful elixir until the next quiet, still moment. When it is 10:30 at night and I haven't yet sat down, or noticed an inhale and exhale, when I haven't looked anyone in the eye as I spoke distractedly, when I have sped through appointments and work shifts and soccer practises and meal preparation and not noticed a single beautiful thing, I am not my best. My people, and I, deserve better.

I resolve to keep trying to do better. I think often of the words Anne of Green Gables said, and take great comfort in them: "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

Sipping milk from otherwise forbidden sugary cereal is a treat at the grandparents' cottage.

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