The Shift

I’ve been away. Away from my keyboard, away from writing and blogging, away from my online writing community and my in-person writing community. I’ve missed it.

I thought I’d be back a month ago, on the day my kids started back to school, that magic day—at least for those of us who work at home—when the house quiets and the hours open up. I sat here that day, fingers poised above keys, as ready for my fresh start as my kids were. Or at least I thought I was.

I did no writing that day that I can remember. I felt empty of words, empty of energy, empty of ideas, empty of purpose because my kids were gone and there was no chatter and laughter filling the rooms. I sat in front of a blank screen and stared.

I sat here that day. I sat here the next day, too, and the day after that. I had nothing to say.

I threw myself into someone else’s words, spending far more hours on a freelance editing job than I’d bid for. It was interesting work and I enjoyed it, but my own creative work was calling. It was calling to me from the other end of a long, dark tunnel. I couldn’t make out what it was saying, but I could hear it.

So I gave up, for now.

I made my kids breakfast.

“What is this?” they asked when they came downstairs. “Breakfast?! Thanks mom!”

I baked cookies.

“This is even more shocking than breakfast,” they said.

I grocery shopped for more than one meal at a time, I cleaned out a closet, I organized. In mid-September, a neighbor launched a 10,000-step-a-day challenge and I threw myself into that. I walked, my kids settled into the new routine of schedules and homework and waking early even though the sun is waking later.

And at September’s end, it dawned on me what happened. I prepared and supported my kids for big transition, the first day of school — the day they would move from the slower rhythms of summer and its smaller to-do lists, to the busier fall season with big to-do lists. I didn’t, however, do the same for myself.

In August, as my kids were cleaning out their backpacks, refreshing their school supplies and going to bed later, I did nothing of the sort for myself. I did not  prepare myself for the impending separation from my family, to the time I’d have on my own. After so many years of parenting, you’d think I’d know that September can be unsettling.

My kids transitioned well.

I took a bit longer, and that’s OK. It’s OK to take time.


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