It is beautiful up here by the allotments. This place is something of a gift for the nervous mum and the curious toddler and the growing little girl. If you were going to start your day anywhere, it might as well be here. There are worse places to do drop-offs, worse places to stall your car manoeuvring, worse places to grab your friend Samuel’s hand and run off into nursery in your little purple sweatshirt.
Not that she needs her purple sweatshirt this week. This week’s weather has been something of a gift, too, for those of us whose adrenaline sky-rockets in September. It’s easier to adjust with this unexpected sunshine. It feels like a slow start to September – the last days of summer and the first days of Autumn all in one. I like slow starts and so does my growing little girl. It suits us that she can go to nursery school here by the allotments, here where she and her sister also go to daycare, here where they know her name. All there is to get used to is a uniform and a few extra days and so she savours them both, insisting on that sweatshirt despite the weather and asking please, double please, can she not go on Saturday too?
It is beautiful up here by the allotments, here on the gravel paths and on the stretches of grass, here among the flowers and the vegetable patches, the sheds and the rickety wire fences. It is beautiful in the sunshine and under the shade of the big trees. I want to wander and explore with my toddler once we have dropped Olivia in, but she turns on her heels every time and runs back towards nursery, towards daycare – slamming herself up against the door, crying bitterly that she can not go in today. Imogen does not need slow starts. She wants to be where the action is. Adrenaline is her thing.
I love the seasons, the actual physical, turning seasons and I feel ready for them, every time. I feel ready for leaves to bud or fall, ready for the warmth then the cold, for more light and long days and then always for the darkness closing in again. I love it when it’s time to open windows and I love it when it’s time to fill hot-water bottles and eat porridge for lunch.
But the seasons of life…the changing of routine and the turning of the calendar…I don’t ever feel ready for that. Like Levi (in Mel’s letter to him on his first day of school), fear and excitement run close and fast around my body with anything new, with any change or turn, even with any return.
I have learnt to be more accepting about this trait in myself, maybe even value it. I don’t despair of it in my oldest daughter do I? I see it linked to all of the good stuff that comes with being a sensitive person. And haven’t I learnt ways to make transitions easier for her, ways that keep her chilled and content? And aren’t I learning ways for myself? There are equivalents to opening a window or filling a hot water bottle that can help welcome a new phase, or bring a little comfort.
I have been feeling guilty that while all the mums on Facebook have been breaking their hearts about their children starting nursery, my main concern has been manoeuvring in the car-park and the lost possibility of pyjama-days. I have hated the thought of 2 more adrenaline filled mornings, rushing out the door.
Imogen and I drive away from the allotments and the scene of her disappointment. We go for sticky ginger cake at Browns. I realise that 9am-11am is now the opposite of 7am-9am. The day starts a little crazy, but here’s a gift in the middle, a few hours with just one child. I get nostalgic going to Browns, it reminds me of maternity leave with a baby, sitting out on that patio, reading my book. Of course today ‘The Rosie Project’ sits unopened on the table. Imogen is no longer a baby, she demands all my attention and scoffs half my cake. This in itself is a reminder that every single time and season passes. The bits we love, and the bits we are glad to see go.
I have started a gentle war in myself against the bit of me that can ruin a time or a phase or a season. It is a war against nervous anticipation, against catastrophising, against comparison. I read that old saying this week: the grass is greener where you water it. I’m going to water September, water Sunday nights, water 7am. Shauna Niequist says that ‘daily life is still the best thing going’ and I don’t want to ruin it.
I finally get back to my book at bedtime and continue to laugh my way through it. I have been cheering Don on from the first chapter as his perfectly organised, categorized life is disrupted by falling in love. But as he sets up a spreadsheet to analyse the situation, I realise there is a bit of Don in me, too. He cannot determine the value of time spent with Rosie because “I was dealing with an equation which contained large negative values – most seriously the disruption to my schedule – and large positive values – the consequential enjoyable experiences”. Don’s scientific, controlled mind struggles to make room for the idea that disruption could be positive. Sometimes my mind does too.
My mum sent me a text saying: “It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. There is a subtle change in the light and the air… Am liking September”.
It’s beautiful up here by the allotments and I’m a bit surprised to realise that I, too, am liking September.
Here’s to subtle changes and mellow fruitfulness, and maybe even a little disruption.