Routinely Autumn

Georgetown, Massachusetts

It’s now mid-August and the nights have turned cooler; many of the leaves have turned a darker shade of green and have a more rugged and coarse texture. I don’t seem to have to cut the lawn as much and the chipmunks and squirrels seem to be less active. Vacations are winding down as we approach Labor Day weekend and parents, like myself, have started to complain about our kids going back before the holiday. Just seems wrong I guess but I get it.

We bought the kids new backpacks yesterday, lunch bags, and of course the shiny new sneakers that they can’t wear before the first day of school. I’m not really sure why that’s a rule but it’s one of those things that I got stuck with as a kid so it’s been arbitrarily handed down to my kids. They hate it as much as I did. I’m sure their kids will also beg unsuccessfully to wear their new kicks before Labor Day.

Maybe I’ll be one of those progressive parents and give in.

I’m thinking about it.

The routine of a deliciously unstructured and chaotic summer is in full swing, but as that calendar flips and we see the impending “S” month on the horizon, we dread the transition back to school.

I guess I should be clear here. I’m not suggesting that I don’t want my kids to go back to school and be subjected to a regimented schedule dictated by the school calendar.

Not at all.

In fact, I excitedly anticipate and welcome that moment with an adult iced concoction, the pool to myself, and either a great new book or more typically a flashing curser on my laptop waiting for me to assemble certain letters in a specific order that when read back, makes you feel something. Anything.

It’s a tall order. Futile some may suggest.

The truth is, I look forward to the routine of school. Some kids don’t need it, others do. Mine fall into the latter category. 2/3 of my children find salvation and comfort in that routine and when it’s not there, they struggle immensely. They are frustrated, confused, unhappy and just don’t know what to do next. It’s hard on all of us and we do what we can to help them (and ourselves for that matter).

But as August rolls on and the kids seem to be more crazy than ever, we are reminded that September is fast-approaching.

Routine is approaching.

A resurgence of pseudo-sanity is in sight.

Football, foliage, cooler nights, fire pits and marshmallows, pumpkin beer, hoodies, Thanksgiving. And soon thereafter, the fat man in the red suite.

By the way, can we stop making pumpkin beer? It’s really not good.

The seasons in New England can teach us a great deal about life, it’s challenges, and our place in the world. As we plunder into the surrealism of autumn, which brings with it its stunning natural beauty, remember too that it brings the inherent routine of nature and the ever-changing world. Just when we think we can’t take another snowstorm or rainstorm or heat wave, it changes. We move on but also find comfort in knowing it will be back next year.

There is solace in routine. Conversely, there is excitement in spontaneity and the unknown. I guess that’s why Mother Nature throws us curve balls routinely to keep us all in balance.

And That’s probably why parenting is so hard. It keeps us from living a life of blissfully wonderful self-indulgence and gluttony.

Even as wonderful as that might sound, I would miss the anticipation of September. I would miss the transition from spontaneity to routine, the excitement in my son’s eyes on that first day of school, the giggles of my twin girls as they try on Halloween costumes. I would miss their eager anticipation of meeting new teachers and classmates. I would miss Friday night football and marshmallows with the kids.

I would miss the insanity of my structured and predictable Google calendar.

So for now, I will embrace the chaotic sanity of the school year routine ~ and probably another mediocre pumpkin beer. But I will also look forward to next summer’s unstructured bliss, random exploration, late nights and Crane beach sunsets with friends.

Only one thing is certain: things changes, both good and bad. Seasons, routines, teachers, schools, kids, and relationships.

I’m trying to NOT figure it all out but rather take it all in, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride. After all, it’s all about the journey right?

Hello September. I see you.

Welcome back.