I know it’s unusual for me to write on a Sunday but I think I had to write down my trepidation about the school year… which begins tomorrow. This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, what with my kids all being in my office and the various things we had to do: doc appointments, getting passports (for November trip), orientation for the younger two at a new school, and orientation for an incoming 6th grader. SO, first time real school for my youngest, middle school for my oldest, and new schools all around since we moved. So yes, it has been crazy.
And I FEEL good about the schools and teachers and I KNOW in my heart of hearts it will all be ok. I may have written about the situation before but they are all riding the bus for the first time. I was not happy about it before but then I managed to work myself through it all and came to a place where I felt good about it. I felt confident in their ability and had faith that it’s something we can make happen, we as working parents. Then, oh THEN.
My mother had other plans. Yes, the meddling mother strikes again. And I know she means well. She cares and wants to help. But I am also of the mind that what we do and decide in our family of five is OURS. We have to make up our minds about what we feel is right for us, for the kids. Now, not to say I don’t value my mom’s opinion but I will go to her if I need it. I do not need to have stress put upon me at all times.
This weekend, I finally had to drop it down on her: do not come in my home and make comments about things not being clean, or about things I need to buy, or about the way I send my children home. Though I know she wants to help, these comments can also be construed as insulting. I had to tell her as much. YES she is family. But YES she is still a guest in my home and that’s just rude. Luckily – and it’s crazy to say this given the history with my father – my dad talked to her. He basically reminded her that the one amazing thing about my mother’s parents is that they never judged the two of them and their choices. And I can see it. My grandfather is an amazing, caring, giving person. But would never dare to tell me what to do.
So yes, my father having a chat with my mom was invaluable. Especially because when I spoke to her, in as nice a way as I could, she acted really childish about it. This isn’t the first time either and it’s funny how you get older and see the people close to you in a different light. It was like, really mom?? And this was right before Dakota’s 5th birthday party began so the tension was palpable and it was just plain awful.
It’s so interesting how much she worries. Especially in regards to things I do with my kids. Half the time, it’s the same stuff I did. My children aren’t necessarily neighborhood roamers. In the old place, Elliot would ride his scooter a mere block and a half on interior roads to Matthew’s house and he had to text me when he got there. When I was 8, I rode my bike 5 blocks and crossed a heavily traveled road at a stop sign to get to a friend’s house. And I don’t once remember calling home to let her know I arrived. I have a pretty good memory of my friend Heather’s house but absolutely no recollection of where the phone was.
We all have this idea that the world is more unsafe now but I don’t know if that is actually true. I grew up five minutes from a mall where a boy was taken. And still, from 3rd grade on, I walked about 3 blocks to and from school. I came home alone, ate a snack, did homework. And I also don’t remember calling my mom then either. It was a time before cell phones. Now we have gps tracking on devices attached to our children. All last year I let my two boys walk a mile to school (google maps tells me my elementary school walk was half a mile). When they got to the busy road with the crossing guard, Ell texted me. And he did it again when they got to the front of the school. Do we need these reassurances simply because we know we can get them? And are we more worried because news is thrown in our faces now more than ever?
For a woman who taught me to have faith in God, my mom has very little faith in the world. And to me, though I realize that the world can be scary, I feel that if you really truly had that much faith in your God, then you would rest assured he’d take care of you. I feel like this will renew a little of my faith as well. Sure, everything is a risk. Going outside your home is a risk. What is it they say in The Hobbit? “It’s a dangerous business, walking out one’s front door.” Yup. But you do it or you aren’t living. I know we all want to keep our kids safe but I also think you have to NOT live your life like everything is a threat. You have to be aware and make smart moves but you can’t keep them in a bubble forever.
That all being said, I am, of course, still a little wary of this first week. But as time goes on and we get accustomed to the new way of life – as we have in this new house and part of town – it will become our normal. We will grow together as a family, forge new memories and friendships in these different schools. We will each grow stronger with our different responsibilities and our lives will change in great ways. Sure, it’s scary. I have always been worried about change. But to take from the Hobbit once more,
Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
Bilbo: I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them …
Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back
Bilbo: You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same
No, we will not be the same and that’s good. A static life is no good. We like stability, sure, but know too that being thrown into something crazy and exciting and even scary or challenging can lead to wisdom, excitement, illumination.