Sunday, September 11, 2011

Seasons Turning: Coming Into Parenthood's Autumn

Fall came today. Yesterday it was summer, hot as Hades, the air conditioning on for the first time this year. In the evening it started to cool down, and I grabbed my bike and headed out my favorite back country road. Swirls of wind sent the first crispy golden leaves dancing ahead of me. The calendar says nine more days of summer, but the seasons say otherwise: autumn comes earlier in the Northwest forests. The days will still be hot now, but the nights will chill and I shook out my down comforter and changed the duvet cover.

Although we homeschool, it seems our lives are inevitably tied to the school calendar. So as September rolls on like a steam train, I headed to Portland with the FTC robotics team I coach for the season kickoff on Saturday. This year my team of boys all tower over me. At fourteen to seventeen years old, they are near-men and their voices boom with new depth as they chatter about coding and servos and the inevitable video games. They make decisions with maturity, stay doggedly on task, and it seems that my years of "herding cats" as I've called my role as a coach is coming to an end.

Sunday brought the first of the year's ten thousand dance performances for my daughter. Her dance and theatre company had an open house, so she performed with the dance team, and reprised a song from her role as "Annie" in the musical. Whereas in years past, I was needed backstage for hair, makeup, and costume changes, now I can sit in the audience and chat with the other parents. Clearly, I am becoming superfluous, like a leaf cast off from a tree to drift slowly down to earth.

Yet as the earth has its magnetic poles that it must orbit around, I sense that my kids still need me at their center, still need a direction for their compass arrows to point. Even as they reach out in all directions, I am still there at the core. This year will be very different from the last time I trained for the Ironman. They were seven and ten then, now they'll be almost thirteen and sixteen when I do the race. I won't have to scramble to fit my workouts in around my husband's schedule or when I can find a babysitter. But I have to be careful to guard my time with them and make sure that I don't take my fleeting hours with them for granted. Like summer's last rays outside my window, their time with me is drawing to a close and I want to hold it close and make it last.

No comments: