Back to school season is always a busy time in families, especially in a teacher’s family, but these last two weeks have been unusually chaotic. All jumbled up together were writing deadlines, crunch time at work, the family patriarch’s birthday, a series of houseguests, a long-distance wedding (for which there were no suitable shoes in my closet), and two sons to pack up and deliver to college—the first time we’ve ever had two leave home at once. My husband has settled into his new routine at the school where he teaches, but I am still a little bit lost and a little bit ragged, a mother whose house is no longer filled with children.
In the tumult of the last two weeks I haven’t had much time to stand at the window, and so it has been too easy for me to forget some of the truths this writing practice was meant to help me remember: that what lies just in front of me is not all there is. That time is ever passing, and not only when I happen to notice its leavings. That strife and pain are no more unexpected than pleasure and joy. That merely by breathing I participate in the eternal.
It’s August, and so my own ragged season corresponds to the molting of the songbirds in my yard. I watch the bald cardinals feeding their fledglings, and I know they feel awful, for molting is its own kind of misery. So I remind myself what I cannot remind them—that the season of raggedness, looked at properly, is really only preparation for a new season of flight.
(Also: even fledglings need their parents.)