Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On Caterpillars And Not Taking Over The World

Day One.  New beginnings.  Two kids in school full time.

I shuffle my newly minted 4th and 1st graders onto the bus, come inside and wipe a few tears away.  I don't know what the tears are about, exactly.  Nervous anticipation of what comes next?  Gratitude that I'm back, from cancer, that I get to be the one to put them on the bus and meet them at the end of the day?  Fear of the booming silence in my house?  Relief?



Probably all of the above.

As they were waiting for the bus, Greta turned to me and said, "Mom, I have the caterpillars".

Usually they are described as butterflies in the stomach, but Greta calls them caterpillars in her
throat. Much better description, I think.



"I have them, too," I told her.  "And I had them every first day of school, ever."

She gave me a tentative grin.  "They're wiggling.  A LOT," she said, and giggled.

"I'm not nervous at all," Finn chimed in. "At least I don't think I am.  What's my teachah's name again? What's my room numbah?  Oh.  I think I have the catahpillahs, too."

Greta put her arm around him, glad for a little brother to comfort.  "Stick with your friend Tim*", she said. "He's on your bus and in your class. If you stick together you'll be fine."



I watched from my perch on the porch, sipped my coffee, my heart swollen with gratitude as Greta wrapped her arms around Finn.

Of course, as the bus approached, she gently pushed him away and whispered, "Now, don't talk to me."

I always seem to see milestones as endings.  No kid at home to take care of, lots of empty silence where before there was constant noise.  My identity isn't totally wrapped around my kids, I'm grateful for that, and I have jewelry orders to make and the gym to go to and phone calls and emails to return.  I can focus on my other life for a while.

I'm trying to see this as a beginning, not an ending.  But, truthfully, it's both.

And today? I feel their absence in a semi-scary, semi-grateful way.  I'm learning that opposite emotions can co-habitate in my mind.  Scared and grateful.  Nervous and excited. Empty and full.  Closing and opening.



Today begins my regimen of self-care. My promise to myself that I won't try to take over the world in these first few months of two kids at school. That I'll take small bites - do something healthy for myself every morning - write, exercise, meditate, do yoga, read - before I start my day. That I won't go nuts cleaning the house, or spend hours messing about on the computer trying to create a new website for my business (something I have no business trying to do but it would get me out of my head for hours), or exercise like a fiend.

It's my time to spend some time with me. Maybe that's why I have the caterpillars. Spending time with myself can be scary for me, because I get all crazy nutso about what it all means, who I am supposed to be, have existential crises.

I'm dialing back, not up, and that's different for me.  I'm giving my body and mind time to heal from the last year.

I'm all talking smack today - here on Day One.  So call me on it, friends.  Let's see how I'm doing on Day 15, or 21 of my non-world-domination campaign.

Right now, though, I'm off to sip coffee, stare out at the rain and listen to the booming silence.



*not his real name

12 comments:

  1. Excellent goals! I wish you joy of them. In addition to looking for work, I've set myself the challenge of trying to get at least one sentence out of my first-grader every afternoon about what he did all day at school. So far, it's going slowly. :)

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    1. I like that goal of getting at least one sentence out of them. I've never had much luck with that, either. :)

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  2. I could see where it would be very tempting to tackle everything at once RIGHT NOW as soon as you have a quiet house. Every year I have the caterpillars for my boy, but since he's in a year around school district, we don't have much time in the summer to get out of the routine. Every year, though, I have a bittersweet moment when I wish his biological father could have seen the day.

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    1. I can imagine that is always bittersweet. All these milestone moments are, I guess?

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  3. Ellie, I am enjoying the most beautiful sound today. "silence". I know someday I will long for the sounds of my children's fighting and pushing to be the first at grabbing the cereal and changing tv station and, and, and... But today I am basking in the beautiful silence of home. Now, back to bed I go!!!

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  4. I forgot to add, I had a few catapillars today too, when I heard the diesel engine roar into the neighborhood this morning. But once it drove off with my children I was giddy!! Awh the sweet sound of silence!!!

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    1. Anne -

      It's actually kind of nice that it's rainy today. The pitter patter of rain on the roof is soothing, making me want to curl up and read instead of run out and take over the world. :) But I DID go to the gym! :) Yes, I think I'm already getting used to the silence....

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  5. I love this post!! (And...needed a little cry.) Even though my kids are in (and beyond) college, I was suddenly right back with a 1st and 4th grader. You captured it all so beautifully. Thank you for reminding me of the only things that really matter-- and forcing me out of action-mode into feeling something for once. Can't wait to meet you.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Anne. I guess where I'm at today is the first tentative step towards a true empty nest - where you are now. And I see all the amazing things you're doing with your time and your talents, and it inspires me. I can't wait to meet you, either!!

      -xo

      -Ellie

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  6. I can relate to the feeling of caterpillars. They don't leave; they just grow fangs and claws (or it least it feels like that) if I let them. My youngest is 20 going on 12 ... and right now, letting her go where I can't protect her is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

    Good thing I don't have to do it all at once. Just one day at a time. :)

    You'll take today as it comes. And when the next day comes, you'll take that one, live in the day and enjoy their expanding worlds as long and as fully as you can. It passes by before you know it. Truly.

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    1. You are so right. And it's true those caterpillars will grow fangs and claws if I let them. Your words are always so wise. You have a 20 year old going on 12, and I have a 10 year old going on 20. Wanna switch? :) Thanks, as always, for your comment.

      -xo

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  7. Lovely post. Reminds me of me too, all in school hubby at work and me with some time to myself doing stuffs that I like and most important a little time to myself. Happy parenting and health recovery. Glad to hear that you don't have to worry about cancer anymore. Happy blogging to you too and hope you have a great week ahead.

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