Six weeks ago, I watched the sun rise between the twin lighthouses, thinking of Stonehenge and how lucky I was to catch the right day, sun rising at five-something a.m. Today on the same beach, lazy old sun wobbling over the horizon a good forty-five degrees south, now right of Salt Island, and the clock ticks six-twenty-five. I turn tail and run for the car, the wake-up call for school will be a few minutes late today.
There are enough eggs for the travelers, but not enough for my breakfast, too. The family is already awake and percolating. It’s the first “full” schoolday for the boy, who will leave shortly with everyone else, and the quiet, the long-awaited quiet, will be worth missing a few eggs. I have a tiny little stash of dollars in my wallet, and I am considering the local café breakfast special, crabcakes and eggs. Perhaps I will just remember the one time I treated myself to it, decadence on a breakfast plate. If I told the price—well, it is a remarkable breakfast, here in the most expensive place on earth.
Both children run to do the one morning chore, watering their special plants. They check off items of the boy’s list: a small blanket and pillow. We find the pillowcase in the cedar chest and anoint it with a few drops of lavender, which is said to help children rest. “Yum!” they hummed, so I put a drop to my finger and anointed them, too, a touch of lavender to the temples, the chest.
He has been looking forward to this day for awhile—local schools began three weeks ago and my daughter began last week. He has long been jealous of the school’s aftercare program for kindergarteners, though each day last year began with weepy, dramatic partings at the door, and twice I was called to remove him, as his frustration became violent. Yesterday we were talking about the tears, and he said, “Sometimes the crying just happens to me. I don’t know why; it just comes.” We talked about ways to be sad without crying, ways to do something joyful when the tears seem close. I am envisioning a peaceful transition, envisioning bravery for all the tasks so difficult for him (using public restrooms, settling into a quiet time, eating lunch without incessant talking, asking for what he needs).
I am thinking of Brother Lawrence, today, and forms of prayer: walking, serving, anointing, envisioning. We had a few minutes of hugging and holding, too, before the percolating boy posed for first day photos and ran to the car.
In a few weeks, I will settle into this schedule and when I sit at my writing desk, words will be flying. I’m a territorial kind of person, quick to love something as soon as it feels like “mine.” I remember color-coded, illustrated semester schedules created in my college and RD days, and now I can barely maintain the family calendar! But I remember the feeling: at last, this is what my life looks like, mostly.
Last year I wept over the first day of school because I longed to hear the thoughts in my own head—I wept because I missed my own company so much. I wept for relief. Today I might just weep because I have been working so hard, such crazy hours, and again I have had little quiet or peace for a month. I might nap. I will walk and think and be lazy. Funny, it’s my day off—a mom’s day off. I will have a day off next week, too, and two mornings. I pick up the children this afternoon and drop them with The Dad, then I head off to the organic grocery (we get our first shipment of produce today!) so I will feel like I have the entire day off!
I don’t weep because I miss my children, or because I don’t know what to do with myself. I get weepy now and then when I am with my children, my heart is so captivated by them, when they are not making me crazy. And I know exactly what to do with myself—it’s a poor analogy, but my image is of Nehemiah, rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. I am rebuilding the walls of my spirit, my strength, and finding what gifts are within. Such good surprises, so far—I am looking forward to what’s next. I’m looking forward to… to right now.