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Jun 27

Holy Fire/Dirty Bathroom Mirror

fire

Today’s the first day since June 7th that I’ve been home without kids for more than a few hours. Ah, I thought, I’ll have hours to work.

Ah, my focus is not focused today. Even writing this feels not easy. We’re half in summer and half out. I’m right in the week between our family’s two summer trips. I just finished writing a back-to-school feature while my brain tries to quiet down to this noise: my eldest is a junior! Two years left! Two years left!

Two years left to teach her how to cook. To soak her in and watch her eventually pass her driving test. Two years in to prod her to do her laundry completely on her own.

A fire alarm that screams “Two Years! Two Years! Two Years!” is not a song I can sing to very long. My Sweet Carolina is off at her beloved summer camp and just knowing she is happy there, that thankfully is beginning to douse the alarm signals that have been on repeat lately.

But that is where I am at: gasping at the god-damned-hourglass just like every parent of a high schooler while marveling that I won another year with my youngest when we decided she’d repeat her kindergarten year. Just, yes, that’s crazy: that spot of joy during a dark time was knowing I’d have an 18-turning-19 high school senior someday. I’m that stinking parent that people might call helicopter except my kids are so old that I say, ‘call me helicopter, the sound of my blades sound pretty nice even as my bathroom mirror is a disgrace thanks to my girls.’

Since my mind has too many blades slicing every neuron I still have in half, I’m not even sure this is worth publishing. Last night I went on a walk and saw a fire in the distance, black smoke curling around city skyscrapers. That’s what’s up ahead: who I have been for quite a long time now burning down.

I know the parents who have gone before me will scold me: your kids are a forever deal, just enjoy the now. But when my husband said a few years ago that these are the salad years: oh, he was speaking the truth. Last night I finished reading a memoir  by a local author who wrote about parenting his “willful skateboarder sons.” The book “Kickflip Boys” ends in the same place of yearning I see up ahead: with Neal Thompson mourning a time that he lived with his three best friends. His two sons/best friends were no longer to be permanent residents of the home he shares with his wife/third best friend/their mom.

Ah home, my sweet holy home. It’s quiet here today, just me knocking out some deadlines, thinking about a fire up ahead, pondering if I should clean the bathroom mirror or leave it as a testament to all that is holy in my life.

2 comments

  1. daniel

    Barely having summer sorted, but needing to plan and prepare for fall, the logistics of it all, and I don’t even work, let alone have deadlines. Time as a parent is crazy.

    1. Nancy Schatz Alton

      I have no idea how people who work full time do it. Then again, everyone is different, and every family has different needs. I try not to beat myself up by looking around and wondering why I’m not like other folks. And yes, we have to decide what our youngest is doing this fall, and I have only one I need to decide for as the 16 year old does that herself. Hoping to run into you again soon…

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