Time for change. That’s what fall is, isn’t it?
I step outside early in the morning, hoping to greet the sun as it rises. There is no hot, humid, heaviness as I open the door, only cool stillness. No matter that the forecast predicts nearly 90* this afternoon; for now, it is chilly. My hydrangeas are slowly turning shades of rusty peach, preparing for their autumn display of deep dusty pink. Geese suddenly appear from the horizon, honking their way south. Waves of nostalgia rush over me — sadness at leaving this summer behind, the sadness of countless others summers gone before. But the simultaneous anticipation of a new year beginning: new plans, new routines, new pencils, new charts. New tights and corduroys, new backpacks and lunch bags. Even better, old sweaters and favorite wool socks. This awaits us, and more.
Still, this summer with all of its firsts and adventures and laughter and spontaneous family moments — it is about to be packed away beside all the other treasures of my heart, memories that grow dim and fuzzy with age, but somehow form the fabric of family.
Anyone else slip into deep melancholy as the morning temperatures cool?
Last spring was a school semester spent welcoming a new baby, and it was everything wonderful. There is a time for everything, and the Lord really helped me to embrace a time for slow, a time for together, a time to sit and read. We did lots of our school work gathered together in the music room, just listening to Tom Sawyer, or The Odyssey, or The Bronze Bow. I watched from the window as the four children ran outside to play, having helped each other don winter gear. Math and handwriting and all those basics somehow got well covered, and we happily made our way till the end of the year.
But there were little sparks of ideas for what I would love to do this year, when perhaps our school time wouldn’t be so centered around Mama cuddling a new baby. This summer those ideas have been brewing and percolating, and being prayed over lots. What is the big picture for this year? I try to ask the Lord for His heart each year. Things as pragmatic as “reading out loud every day,” “learning to recite clearly while making eye contact”, etc. But things that go deeper, too (and often those pragmatic goals are just outworking of deeper things, like connecting one-on-one, cultivating confidence, equipping to interact with the world, hiding scripture deep in their hearts.)
This year, my over-arching desire is to tie heart strings.
I have had a picture in my mind’s eye since last winter of a gathering time each afternoon where I am doing something with all three (and maybe four, as Fiona simply won’t be denied!) children. That is their love language: Mama sitting, creating, involved, right alongside them.
My eldest son is growing. There are not so many moments left of me gathering my little chicks all in a row — sooner than I know, it will be time to let them experience independence in new ways. And so I am burdened to tie these heart strings good and strong. To look in their eyes and help their hands and spend time not just downloading information or training in chores, but with them.
So we will have fun. It will not always be easy fun — it just doesn’t work that way in real life. There will be babies crying and flour on the floor, thread tangled and fingers stabbed, messy hands and dinner burning. There will be days when our hearts are out of synch and grumpiness threatens every plan I made. But I am praying for the vision to press through all of that and teach them, in so doing, that opposition doesn’t have be the end of effort, and that they are worth it.
But for now, the last days of summer beckon. We’ll tie heart strings making chalk art, eating lunch outside, and taking spontaneous walks to the river.