wrestling with freedom



I get very excited at this time of year for many reasons. I so look forward to the changing seasons. This particular time of year brings my favorite, autumn. And right now, there are school supplies everywhere! *sigh* I love school supplies. Pencils, paper, glue, erasers, binders, crayons, pencil pouches, folders, (and day planners!) …they just make my heart beat faster. Speaking of supplies, a close cousin of the school supplies is office supplies. My favorite thing to play as a child was Office. Papers, pens, stamps, clips, corded phones, message pads, calendars….To this day I love to go into office supply stores, and rarely leave without more than I went in to get. Because, pens…But I digress. Another reason I look forward to this time of year is the routine it brings. Out of the “free for all” of summer, into the schedule of the school year. I’ve come to realize in more recent years that, although I love the freedom that summer brings, I don’t thrive in it. I am more of a list maker kind of girl. I like knowing what I need to get done and then devise a plan for how it’s going to happen. (And I write it all down with fabulous, colorful, fine-tipped pens.) But, the rebel in me really, really loves her freedom. I like being able to choose how I’m going to orchestrate my day, based on, well, how I’m feeling that day. [This might be a good time to mention that I highly value authenticity. I like to know who I’m dealing with when it comes to other people, and I appreciate the freedom to speak genuinely about who I am and the struggles I have in my own life.] <— That being said, I’m just laying it out there with what I said in the sentence prior to the “ahem” brackets. It’s just true. I don’t believe that there is much good that can come from that kind of daily living, but I like to think I can find my way around it all and come out on top. So, as I’ve wrestled with this for years, now… enter my five year old. We’ve been going through a rough season with him. We’ve had these seasons in their different forms throughout the years that he has lived outside my body, but this one has brought more tears from me than I can recall the other ones bringing. As I lay in bed one morning after a particularly difficult evening prior, and found myself afraid of the day ahead, something came to me. Our roughest times have come just this summer. And what really changed for him this summer was routine. Or, rather, lack of a routine. I’ve always agreed that children thrive on routine — things go more smoothly when they know what to expect. But we really let that fly out the window this summer. He went from everyday at school in kindergarten prep, to “Ah, well, we’ll just see how the day goes.” And it occurred to me that perhaps what I have just been hoping was “a season” with him that we would weather and see pass by, really might be, in some part, my doing. Or, at least I could have helped the season pass in better form had I realized that what he really needed was the security of more of a schedule. So, as I sit here in my corner chair, watching the skies turn a glorious pale peach, and the cicadas are building up intensity in the trees to say goodnight to the first day of September, and my family has headed out for an evening walk, I am somewhat encouraged at the thought that as autumn approaches and the days get shorter, so shortens the leash of summer’s freedom. But, I suppose it should read, “freedom.” Because the way I handled this summer’s “freedom” brought bondage to fear — fear that we had already failed our son and were really going to struggle to help him get back on a good path. Yes, I know he’s only five. But as mothers, don’t we so often live and die in the hour? Sometime the minute? Thinking it is just.  never.  going.  to.  get.  better.  When life gets hard, and you’re afraid to get out of bed because you’re afraid of the battles you’re facing that day with your five year old.  The extracurricular activities are set, school starts in a week and a half, and with these things come daily lists of things to accomplish, a dry erase calendar telling us where to be and when, and the weight of responsibility that, in truth, actually seems more like a set of wings that I have had on a wish list for a long time. Or, at least the past couple months.