It's funny how knowledge and acceptance can be so at odds. I'm certain that were I to go back through this blog's archives, unearthing and rereading posts from the two-three weeks prior to the start of each school year, I'd find evidence of a vast malaise, not remotely unlike the one I'm feeling now.
I know and expect this end-of-summer state of blue but never do I grow closer to feeling any sort of peace with it.
There are the voices from my family, waxing rhapsodic about blissful summers. There are the voices of friends who truly love weeks on end of downtime with their children. There are the perky voices in parenting blogs and magazines and glossy social media feeds giving thanks for one last weekend of togetherness.
I do not find myself in any of those voices. I find myself deep in struggle and overwhelm. I feel flat and dull and a touch pissed. I'm not sure I'll ever find acceptance in that.
I am grateful for the collegiate whispers of parents who feel as enervated as I do but I continue to wish that on occasion those whispers were roars.
I continue to wish modern parenting might tilt backward a bit (or very much?) to a more hands-off time. I continue to wish I could right my own wrongs in any dynamics I inadvertently established when my kids were small. Out of the most intense love I sat and played and adored and tended and did and did and did. Who and what wouldn't get used to such attention and devotion? If only I'd remembered to give myself some of that, for clawing it back is much harder than keeping it from the get-go.
I know there are those nodding their heads with kindly smiles and thinking "oh, but the years are short." I am aware that the years are short. (And yes, I am equally aware that my boys went to sleepaway camp this summer. Camp and the fatigue from more than a decade of parenting don't cancel each other, friends.)
But also, and with equal validity, the days and weeks can feel long. They are long. They are mind-numbing and thankless not infrequently, and pretty much all the time, the ledger draws down not from the children but from their primary caregivers. Even the most willing and wanting of us are not infinitely refilling vessels. At least not most of us. Not me. And my kids aren't quiet lumps. I'm exceedingly thankful for that, but parenting them is neither easy nor relaxing. Ever.
I could not stop crying this morning, and I feel zero sadness that tomorrow is, mercifully, the last day of another summer. I don't know what we'll eat tomorrow (every person in my family has asked me that) nor what we'll do (every member has asked me that too). I wish I could read quietly without interruption and exercise and simply feel my body seek to find some sort of stasis. I doubt any of that will come to pass. And I don't feel too much in the way of acceptance about that.
If you're whispering along with me, nodding your tired head in understanding, I send you a salute and a hug.