September 6, 2008 by Ellen Stimson in Back to School, Mothering, Summertime

They are three words that have never brought me joy. I loved summer as a kid and I love it as a grown-up, or what passes for one in my house anyway, just as much. I know September is a pretty month. Many people think of it as their favorite. Not me. I never wanted to have to start getting up earlier, or go to bed earlier either. I loved staying up long after my mom had gone to bed and reading deep into the night. It was a special pleasure held aside only for June July and August. I loved the empty afternoon hours. They were perfect for decorating a poster board house, or building rock castles in the backyard. These were not worthy projects like the ones saved for winter where you made baskets for the poor kids, or homemade stockings for the old folks at the nursing home. Nope, these were simply fun and a little bit aimless and perfect for the hottest part of the day.

Then I grew up and learned about late night bonfires and unending teenage hours with trashy magazines and shiny purple nail polish. I learned about barefoot walks through piney woods to rivers so cold they make your hair hurt. I found out about ice cream suppers, and long hot days in flimsy nightgowns or boxers and unending hours of Jaws and Jurassic Park shown in the darkest coolest part of the house with big bowls of watermelon and pimento cheese sandwiches. What had happened was that I’d had kids and got even better kid centered summers than I’d had the first time around.

So I am not one of those moms that looks forward to setting the alarm, early breakfasts, soccer practice, and backpacks with lists of things to fill up a perfectly good evening with someone elses idea of ‘good for you’ activity. Maybe I am just bad at transitions, but back to school has never sounded too good to me. And please don’t misunderstand. I loved school. I was good at it and nothing pleased me more than those clean empty notebooks, fresh paper, and piles of pens and pencils promising big new thoughts, and lots of new good books. I mean I can get into the swing of the thing as much as the next girl, it’s just those first few days always make me a little sad. I don’t get the parents who exhale and slide right into the new routines.

It happened again here on Tuesday. We are transitioning this year in several ways. First of course like everyone we are trying to get into a new routine, bed earlier, up the same. Breakfast before you are good and hungry and homework fitted in and around supper, soccer, and a little porch time with each other. But this year Eli is leaving five years of homeschooling behind and going to a smart little independent mountain school with a college prep high school and a sweet little middle school built in. He wanted a bigger social arena and now he has it. Hannah is a sophomore at Mt Holyoke; her daddy moved her in on Wednesday. Classes started Thursday and she’d skipped the moving in festivities earlier in the week. “Daddy will you make some more ice cream?” ” Mommy wanna have a jammy day?” Her big brother Benjamin has just one semester of college to go. He is actually using the word graduation in a sentence. It might really happen. Talk about transitions. He asked me today if I knew what was worse than an old tired jaded teacher one year from retirement. He had that guy last semester. Now he thinks that new,fresh eyed and filled with ideas and important policies and rules is considerably worse. Eli could barely speak tonight. He is tired down to his toes. Yesterday they went on a camping trip, a bonding experience in nature. But first he had soccer practice and a quiz on one of the summer reads. He is in algebra two. There is a quiz on Monday. “What’s algebra again?” We had a quiet supper. Maybe he’ll just have a bath.

Me, I cannot believe it’s September. I want a do over….


  • starrlife

    For me the joy of living in New England is the joy of each season for it’s blessings. Since I work the summer isn’t demarcated as strongly as much of a change except for that I get to go outdoors in the longer evenings and of course, gardening. Congrats on your childrens accomplishments! I just find transitions that are unnatural very jarring and stressful but motherhood is stretching me in ways I never thought possible.

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    Oh I love it! It’s the mark of the beginning of a world that is colorful and crisp and wonderful! It’s school shopping for the new cool fall stuff and it’s starting fall sports! It’s sleeping with the windows open and wearing sweatpants to the store! I’ll take it anyday! 🙂

  • Jennifer

    Ah, I know. I am such a summer girl. I love every bit of summer from the long days to the hazy nights to the heat and the lack of schedule and the lack of sleep from too much travel and too many fun things to do. September always has me feeling a bit down.

    BUT! I save my sniffling feelings for the latter part of September, as my birthday is on the 12th. Pre-12th, I pretend it’s still summer. You can join me in this, if you’d like. *grin*

    BTW, I just put up a new blog post, in response to a comment you made on my last one. I’d wished I could have emailed you for permission before I quoted you, but could not find your email address. I hope it is okay that I quoted you — please know I value and respect your thoughts and ideas and always look forward to what you have to say. Even when I reach a different conclusion from the same facts. 🙂

  • beesknees

    How do you get one of those????
    I know it’s not poitically correct, but wait for Indian Summer. Let the kids take the day off and find a river and pretend

  • Anonymous

    I don’t even have the school demarkation anymore and I hate it too. I hate getting behind the school busses and realizing that I will not have new beginnings at work with crisp new paper and a clean desk. Rather I just have a big pile of the same old problems. Oh and I hate not being able to use my deck and BBQ. And fading tans….and the idea of winter coming around again. Ugh

  • painted maypole

    summers in your home sound lovely.

    we had such a busy (but fun summer) that we didn’t have much “unstructured” time. Being unexpectedly off school all last week gave us some nice unstructured time after we returned from our evacuation. My being sick and nothing really being open gave us lots of time to sit around, work on puzzles, pull out the scrapbooks, look at books, and such. I couldn’t believe it, but I never heard MQ say “I’m bored” It was lovely. Having to get up early today for school was hard!

  • library lady

    Some of my best memories are of Labor Day night. I loved school and I was always so excited to be going back. I couldn’t sleep that night for wanting it to be time to get up and put on my new first-day-of-school outfit and get to the bus stop. It took about a week to get back to normal. I still loved school, but my not-a-morning-person genes would kick back in and life would return to normal. Now as a boring adult, the return to school means more traffic and more of an unnaturally early morning rising.

  • Kate

    I loved my summer. I was wary of it, but I ended up having a lot of fun and freedom. These new seasons (and they are new each year now for some reason) give me pause now and again. When I was pulling on socks and shoes today, I had a flash of fear for the autumn. And I had to remind myself when I was trying on flip flops for the first time last March, that I felt the same way.

  • sabat

    Oh but now we can almost get our sweaters out and put these stupid skimpy swim suits away. And pretty soon we can drink egg nog and eat cookies and not have to think about the swimming thing for months…!

    September 16, 2008 6:28 AM

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