All the things I used to love about fall with children – little craft projects of pumpkins and turkeys, stories about elves painting leaves yellow and red, are gone.
Fairy princess and bunny costumes are now replaced by zombies and vampires. I even miss the struggle of getting sweaters over heads and socks over wiggly toes – focusing on the small things that are at a child’s level. I got to place tumbling aspen leaves and chilled “smoky” breath onto our family’s center stage. Without my little kids to make me focus, seasons slip by in a blur of duties
Now my girls are starting to focus inward, complain ever more about taking walks, hoping if they whine enough, I’ll let them listen to Ipods every spare minute. They get (or don’t get) their own sweaters and socks. We still have gone up the mountain to picnic at sunset among the stands of glowing yellow aspens. They carved pumpkins with abandon. But the little daily touchstones that fit so sweetly into their lives are gone, and I realize what a gift those were to me. It slowed me down, helped me get more in touch with the earth’s movement and changes.
The girls are speeding up and for my peace of mind, I need to find my own methods of slowing down, now that it’s less my job to lead them. I seriously need it to stay sane.
I realize that as an adult — before kids — I wasn’t very connected. Winter was to be endured while summers were hard to pin down and enjoy since I was stuck in office buildings. I took in, but didn’t absorb the warmer breezes of spring, or changing light of autumn. And some part of me faded away until I had children and got to stare with them at the first snowflakes of the season.
They’ve opened a little path of how to be present in the moment and now it’s my job to keep it going. It’s like women who no longer cook for themselves when their families leave home. I noticed that this fall was amazing and I was rushing by it because it wasn’t my “job” to notice it any more.
So I’m trying – more walks taken at a slower, less “aerobically functional” clip, taking photos, more deep breathing as I observe aspens shining in the mountains and purple asters glowing in the grey of dawn. As I stop and notice dried leaves beginning to clutter the paths, rustling like papery wind chimes when the wind blows.
It needs to be more for myself now. Finding that quiet magic that’s always there. Feel the warmth of a scarf around my neck. Enjoy shrugging on sweaters on cool evenings. Pull on my favorite stripey Wicked-Witch-of-the-West socks.
The feeling of not letting the torrent of life slip by so fast has its own simple calm rewards. But to be honest, it does feel lonelier. But just like autumn, one thing is fading while another grows. I can watch, and wait.