We walk up the hill as the sun begins to set. This takes my breath away not because of its beauty, but because I can’t help but think Already?
School is definitely under way. Our days are starting to take shape, filling with homework and schedules and lunches, practice and forms and library books.
Tonight, Jason took Kayli to volleyball and I took the other two to the park. They ran down the big grassy hill, arms spread, head tilted to the sky that was already painted in rainbow shades of sunset.
They ran as if their goal was to cover every inch of the wide-open space with their tiny sneakered feet (and the extra loud voices they’ve been gifted with). And the sun set as if its job was to remind me that the night is actually short and we should head home.
Last night, these two had soccer. Jason and I high-5ed on the way out the door as he rushed into one car with a child or two and I ushered the other into my van. I set up my lawn chair with my friends and cheered for our kids’ team and commented on the weather in the very best Minnesotan way while Jason coached a few blocks away. Afterward, we met at home and went through the motions of our evening routine – snacks and showers and laying out clothes for tomorrow.Yes, you may read. No, you may not get out of bed.
Sometimes, on nights like these, I worry that we’re somehow doing this wrong. That our kids need more time to run through open fields than we need cheering them on from the sidelines. That Jason and I need to sit side by side on an old wooden bench watching them play rather than driving separate cars to separate fields. That tired eyes and rushed nights aren’t worth the benefits of team and skills and exercise.
I don’t actually believe this, I think there’s a balance in everything and one activity on one weeknight is as good for the soul and the body and the mind as free play is. But when a sunset feels like a reminder to move it along rather than an invitation to breathe, I doubt myself.
Later that night, after I tucked and reminded and ignored that beautiful setting sun, I sat with a dear friend, sipping a drink, sharing how the school year was going for all of us. Because although the school year and soccer practice and bedtime belong to our children, the work to get to all of these things is ours.
“I want, so desperately, for this to be the year that I can handle homework and activities.” I confided. And we laughed, how could we not? Because that’s how it feels as the mom. We always wonder if we’re capable of smoothing the edges of a rough schedule to make it fit.
And the truth of the matter is this. We’ll never quite know if we’re doing it right. We’ll continue to take one step in front of the other and some nights will be about driving and ushering and cheering. And those nights might have a Move it alongreminder slipped here and there.
And I actually think that that’s okay.
Because there’s a different kind of fun and together and childhood painted on those kinds of nights. And puzzle pieced to them, will be those wooden benches and big hills I always imagined we’d fill our nights with.
And as for that sunset, I’ll take it for exactly what it is – a beautiful reminder that as one season, moment, and day sets, another one begins.