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:

Au Jus Sandwiches
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lean beef roast (2-3 pounds)
  2. 2 8 oz. bottles of Johnny's French Dip Au Jus Sauce
  3. 1 jar of Peperoncini Peppers
Instructions
  1. 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).
Notes
  1. Make sure and savor fully… the sandwiches and the time.
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/
Melissa Blair
Melissa Blair / Posts / Blog

Melissa Blair is a writer and recovering Texan now living in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. Being barefoot in the kitchen or on the back porch with her people makes her as happy as strong coffee does. Melissa believes there is always treasure buried beneath the dirt of every day and enjoys digging for, dusting off, and holding each one up to the light for a better view.
She can be found writing the mess out of life at melissablair.net and is not afraid to post embarrassing status updates on her Facebook page and Instagram (@melblair)

  • SB

    It’s scary and it’s fun and it’s scary. Love the perspective of bringing families together through seasons of life. But all seasons come again and maybe one day we get to hold those grand babies!

    September 15th, 2017 11:28
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    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      It’s less scary and more fun because we get to do the seasons together. Our kids won’t know what’s gonna hit ’em when we get our hands on those grand babies 😉 Love you.

      September 15th, 2017 14:22
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      02
  • Kris
    http://kriscamealy.com

    Melissa,
    You capture the changing colors of our kids in such a real and beautiful way here. In the midst of the season, it never seems like it’s happening, but then suddenly, our eyes are opened! It’s happened right in front of us, in the midst of the meal-making, carpool-taking, problem solving, laundry-sorting of the everyday, they have grown inches and miles. My own two boys, 13 and 11, are both taller than I am, and looking at my girls, they will probably pass me up too! But it’s not just their height. Our conversations are changing too. We are in the midst of transition ourselves.

    Thank you for sharing this. I got on here to say that and then talked about myself. I’m *SO* glad you’re here, and so grateful for your stories.

    September 15th, 2017 14:03
    Reply
    03
    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      I love hearing your rich, thoughtful, true-life stories (actually, more please). Of course we are transitioning in this way as well, sister. Parallel lives. I am beyond grateful for you, the way you pull out a chair, and your open door to your life that makes a person feel known and love Jesus more. You are a gift to us!

      September 15th, 2017 14:25
      Reply
      04
  • Melissa

    It really must be nice to have a loving spouse and children. I wouldn’t know…god never blessed me with those things, even though praying for them for over 20 years now. And it’s too late for children now… I couldn’t even give my mom grandchildren, like you so flippantly joke about.

    September 15th, 2017 16:34
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    05
    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      Melissa,
      I just got your message…found it way down in my email–I apologize I haven’t replied before now. I re-read to see if I had been offhand about any of this story and I’m so sorry you feel like some of these words have been flippant. I always try to be careful because I have been scraped by flip words about family/kids/husbands before. My post was trying to convey that I don’t take any of it for granted. Thank you for reaching out and letting me know how this could have been taken. Again, I’m so sorry, Melissa

      October 31st, 2017 12:48
      Reply
      06
  • kelly smith http://kitchentuts.com/
    http://kitchentuts.com/

    I love sandwiches but never make this method. I am excited to make this. I can’t wait for this. It really tasty and delicious.
    http://kitchentuts.com/

    October 9th, 2017 4:50
    Reply
    07

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