A Season of Parenting Fades

With this week’s darker evenings,  the last few trees are a fiery yellow here in Santa Fe. We are slowly moving our lives inside, hauling the geraniums inside and covering patio furniture.

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.

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6 Responses to A Season of Parenting Fades

  1. JK says:

    Thank you for reminding me to slow down and experience life — and my life. To breathe deeply and notice more. This is a beautiful piece!

  2. growingmygirls says:

    Thank you! It seems more and more important as we get older, doesn’t it?

  3. First Gen American says:

    A lovely post. My own way of slowing down is doing something that is time consuming that I enjoy like making jam. Just that mental act of committing a big chunk of time to a singular thing is enough to change my state of mind. We all like to jump and say “I am too busy, I don’t have time for that”. Well you can fast forward your way through life while missing out on all the little joys of it. It’s great that you lived deliberately for the sake of your children but it is a keen observation that you must also do it for your own sake.

    • growingmygirls says:

      I love the idea of jam! I know just what you mean and doing something involved for a long time and how soothing it is. I don’t always get enough of that and am now realizing I’ve got to squeeze that into the schedule too because the driving around is ramping up. But this fall I got some gardening and sewing in, so the tide is turning! Thanks for idea.

  4. Michelle says:

    Grandchildren

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