Labor day is still two weeks away. The days when the temperatures top off below ninety are rare and lovely treats. It's dusk now, and the cicadas and fireflies have come out to welcome the dark. Flip-flops. Tank-tops. Bug Spray. Children with red-brown skin and hair bleached unnaturally blonde by the sun. Everything alive croons 'summer.' Lazy and sticky and slow.
But in our home, in defiance of nature, summer has come crashing to an end. My older children started back to school last Monday. All four of them moved up a grade in Sunday School this morning. Choir resumed after the summer break. Voice lessons. T-ball. Football Season. Open Houses. The calendar fills up despite my efforts. Two entries tomorrow. Four the next day.
And more than anything else, for me, the end of summer is heralded by a familiar tightening in my stomach. A brain that lurches back to a higher gear. Weight settling back on my shoulders. Normally the result of trying to balance new schedules. Of anxiety about new grades and teachers and friends. It's why I dread the end of summer most of all. Laziness and boredom displaced by a too-fast pace that won't slow down 'til January.
And this year these feeling are compounded by change. In a couple weeks, Clara will go to preschool for the very first time. And, as a result, tomorrow I start a job. Two mornings a week teaching at my children's preschool to offset the cost of their tuition. A small thing, I know. Assisting with the teaching, managing, guiding of a dozen three-year-olds for nine hours a week. Certainly, nothing to have anxiety about. But for the first time in over four years, I will have a boss. Set hours that I am expected to be somewhere, sans my own children. To meet the expectations of others, outside of my home, for compensation.
And suddenly, today, as I am arranging childcare for my own Open House next week, I am a hit with the jitters. Not sure if I remember how to be a grown-up. And really, it barely qualifies. I am working with 3-year-olds. I don't even have to change out of my mom-iform of capris and flip-flops. It's a baby-step at best.
But still, I know it's the first step of many, out of this cocoon of tiny children with their all encompassing needs. To the place where their time away from me will stretch to hours everyday. And I will be forced to become someone else again. Someone no longer defined by the constant presence of her preschool children. And right now, the night before, that baby step feels a little too big.
And a little too soon.