Today Hannah and Ellie went to school for one hour in the morning, and tomorrow they begin in earnest. Sasha will begin on Monday. As we walked to school this morning and admired the band of clouds wrapped around the mountain peaks we talked and squeezed hands and compared the flutter-meters of the butterflies in our tummies. They walked into the school, were greeted with the other new students by the principal and were taken to some classrooms.
As I watched them, I was amazed. Amazed at their peaceful dispositions. At their willingness to enter the unknown with such trust. At their ability to be courageous in such a vulnerable place. At the cost they are paying for this year away - probably more than anyone in our family. At their capacity to embrace this experience as something more than just a challenge. They simply amazed me.
Oh, I know there will be difficult days ahead. Questions and queries. Tears and anger. Sadness and loneliness. It's coming - I know - because it always does when you do something that's really hard. But that's when you grow, I'll tell them. That's when the roots go down and you become strong. I'll say this as much to myself as to them.
Fall is hard for me. I don't do well under pressure. I love routine, but I crack and feel the heavy weight of having to "be somewhere, with something, wearing something else, and don't be late and display a smile and be happy dammit." That's what life feels like sometimes. Running. Sometimes in circles and sometimes straight ahead. Mostly what I want to do is crawl under my quilt with a book and sleep the expectations away. Sometimes I do.
And I think that that is why the last month has been richer for me than for most. It was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. A retreat in the middle of a full life. My challenge now, is to take that retreat into my everyday, especially when my dark, difficult times come. "Because that's when you grow", I'll tell myself. "That's when the roots go down and you become strong." I am saying this to me, now. I am trying to listen.