To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. ~George Santayana
“Fall’s coming.” My man-child climbs into the passenger seat next to me for after-school pick up, announces this with a wide smile. He doesn’t even say hello.
“I went outside to warm up this morning because I was cold and it was colder outside!” I don’t respond fast enough and he presses, “You know, Mom?”
I glance over at my son, more man now than boy, take in his square-lined jaw and the deep voice I often mistake for his dad’s when he’s across the house, “I know, Buddy. I feel it too.”
There are signs that usher us from one season into the next and I had known for awhile we were headed into a new one. And just now there was the hint of a cooler wind as summer was beginning to crack the door open for fall.
But that’s not the kind of season I’m talking about.
Until fairly recently, I’d never known anything other than being the mother of a young family. For my littles, I arranged (or not) the playdates, I determined the dinner schedule, and there was still a bit of clock left when the kids tucked down for the night for my husband and I to steal back some moments together.
Time is how I love and I was mostly in charge of it and able to keep us near.
Now my kids make their own plans, dinner depends on soccer practice, and they often stay up later than me. At least once daily I think of that saying about herding cats.
My oldest two are teenagers and changing colors faster than the mosaic of trees up and down these Ozark Mountains. Our conversations are smart and challenging, their humor is joy, and these independent personalities are fascinating to me.
Most days I wouldn’t change them for a dirty diaper.
And there is an unexpected sweet coolness in the air on a warm afternoon and the old way we’ve always done things as a family is giving way to something new.
My kids run off for long stretches leaving me with all the time I wished for when I couldn’t take a step without a baby clinging to my ankles. At first I am delighted and use the time to fold the last load of laundry. When the laundry is long done, I hurry to call my sister back. When I finish the call uninterrupted, I get antsy. I press my nose to the front door window waiting for my kids to come home.
What in Sam Hill was I supposed to do with… time?
I don’t like it near as much as I thought I would.
I sat in my feelings next to my husband one night and I felt a well-deep ache and pretended to be upset about something else.
“Baby. Is this because the kids are growing up?”
My chin quivered by way of answer and began the tears that dried down my neck while I slept that night.
Isn’t life funny? Often the moments you wait for take so long they almost pass you right up before you even recognize them.
We live out on a river near ponds and valleys and mud and sky and neighbors. There is freedom and banks and childhood to explore for days and miles. My son’s friends like to come out to our house to chase the wind, fish, and chip a tooth or two rough-housing in the river. The boys mill around in the garage with fishing rods and supplies, readying for a full day of adventure. I pick up extra snacks now when I go to the store and hand these over to them, ask about their families and harass them just enough. Later I call after the taillights leaving down the driveway, “Dinner at six! Don’t be late!”
I smile when they all yell yes ma’am! and whisper quick prayers over each.
While I’m in the garage, I step over the extra bikes of the kids I can’t find and restock the ‘fridge with popsicles. My youngest keeps a steady stream of visitors and they all know we keep an open freezer. I head in to the kitchen to make some lemonade and leave out the plastic cups they can take outside.
“You guys okay?” I call upstairs and wait for the giggles of my middle and her friends to stop so they can answer.
“Yes ma’am!” More giggles.
I know they like mixing candy into their popcorn, and I pick through our year-round Halloween stash to find the minis they can use for later and I hide the good chocolate for myself.
I had always heard from parents further down the road that kids grow up, but it took so long I never really believed it. Now it’s happening so fast it almost passed me up and I see it’s true. After fall comes winter, then spring and summer. The seasons always know when to come all on their own, don’t they?
Spring has long been my favorite, but right now I am learning to really love Fall.
The world is calling and they must go, but they leave their hearts behind and I’ll have dinner ready when they get back.
This is a new favorite of ours, courtesy of Dee, one of my favorite mamas in the next season:
- 1 lean beef roast (2-3 pounds)
- 2 8 oz. bottles of Johnny's French Dip Au Jus Sauce
- 1 jar of Peperoncini Peppers
- Place all items in crockpot with the addition of refilling Johnny's Sauce bottle once with water and put on low for 12-24 hours. Serve on your favorite crusty bread (we like to eat ours with a slice of Provolone cheese).
- Make sure and savor fully… the sandwiches and the time.