June 7, 2019
Apparently it was a record breaking grey and rainy May in Montreal. I didn't even notice.
I can't recall most of the month, though certain highlights I remember.
I remember that period of three to five days when the trees looked fuzzy with tiny chartreuse leaves. I said to myself, "Renee, pay attention here. Remember this."
And I do. I can still see those leaves in my memory. Memory is all I've got. I didn't even a get a photo this year.
It seems to me that those handful of days when the leaves are newly born are the most fleeting change in all the seasons. I can't think of anything else, in my latitude and city context, as ephemeral as those baby leaves.
I noticed the leaves.
my mom's shirt is the color of those fresh leaves
My mom came to visit for a few days. It was unexpected. A trip conceived last minute with the cancellation of other plans. It was wonderful to be with her, as it always is.
She was able to join Celine's 20th birthday celebration and to participate in the buzz of activity that is our home in the weeks leading up to the co-op theatre production.
It was a whirlwind. Her visit, the production, the month.
Damien and I got out of the city twice, so says my monthly calendar in my journal. A spring hike at Mt. Tremblant National Park, snow still thick in the woods and on the trails. And a Mother's Day drive through the piedmont region of Quebec, discovering an historical waterfall and experiencing a new area of the province from the seats of our car instead of on foot, by choice. A Sunday drive. How old-fashioned of us.
We went to End Game, but only after I had got caught up on Infinity War. We finished our taxes. We spent a lot of time at co-op and driving there and back. I met a friend for coffee one evening. We bought an Instant Pot and replaced our broken toaster oven.
Mont Tremblant park in early May
I feel weary. It's that time of year. It's that time of life. All the school year-end fuss and effort, deadlines and parties, the drama production. A long string of hard-working days, interspersed with "special" days (read: days with more work), punctuated by some bad news days. Ugh.
I don't want to complain about a good life. But I am so, so tired. Looking back in blog archives I can see I've felt this way every spring since moving to Montreal, joining the co-op and aligning ourselves more closely with a traditional school year calendar and activities.
In the marathon race of raising teens, or rather marathon after marathon after marathon, the peak intensity of "everything", including my parental angst seems to happen this time of year. As the busyness of the season increases, so does my stress and overall vulnerability to anxiety, fear, mommy guilt, regret, and overall negativity.
I am trying to practice gratitude, truly I am. But what I really want is something different for my life. I want more time in the woods. I want to travel. I want to have more say in my schedule.
I want summer.
I feel like I have been grinding through life since last fall. This school year thing is a rhythm I am still not used to, never wanted to get used to, and will hopefully say "goodbye and good riddance" to within the next 18 months, rough projection for when Brienne will be done homeschooling and co-op involvement and I will retire as a homeschooler.
I hate feeling captive to systems that, although they meet particular needs in our lives, also introduce a wearying level of complexity and compromise.
And it's been a whopper of a school year dealing with systems, complexity, and compromise.
That's exactly what life is, at each and every stage, complexity and compromise. But some seasons are more intense and this has been one of them.
One of the cool kids now
Raising teens and young adults feels like launching projectiles out of a safe and steady orbit, full of calculations, guidance systems, and lots of risk.
I'm not sure if the following scenario is mathematically possible, but it's how I imagine the situation.
When they are little our children orbit us, like small satellites around the earth. We are in constant contact, we keep things as smooth and predictable as possible.
But as they grow, children leave this predictable and close orbit. The co-ordinates change as children orient themselves in relation to friends and the outside world. With any change of co-ordinates, the orbit changes. That I know is mathematical true.
And now there are objects, teenagers and young adults, on differing orbits around the earth (us). Eventually the coordinates have to change enough for a launch out of orbit. At this point the metaphor breaks down because we don't want to launch them on a trajectory far out into space (ok, sometimes we do) but into their own "system" close by with regular contact with our "system".
But this movement from orbiting us, to establishing their own identity, is wobbly, stressful, and busy. There are three of them on different orbits and we parents are supposed to be the steady center of it all, holding down the fort and working through our own "stuff" - mid-life, financial and physical stresses, keeping a 23 year marriage on track so we still have a marriage when the kids launch, working and careers. Some days it just feels like so much.
I fantasize about another life in another place, living off the land in some isolated corner of North America or traveling the continent in an RV. I romanticize when the kids were little. I idealize the social media veneer of other people's lives. None of it helpful.
rarely do I hang laundry but when I do it makes for a nice photo
In times of stress I feel I lack something that everyone else, or maybe it's just the lucky few, seem to have. Insight, fortitude, joy, gratitude, opportunity; the right tools, the right perspective, the right location. You name it. Someone else has got more and seems better equipped to handle everything.
Are we all walking around feeling this way?! Overwhelmed, tired, too busy, feeling ill-suited and ill-equipped for modern life? And if we are, wow, we are amazing because, by and large, we keep going. We keep showing up to the hard work of loving people, putting food on the table and a roof over our heads. We keep investing in our families and communities even when we're tired. And we're so tired.
We're wired to survive, so there's that. But there's the spirit's desire to thrive.
I'd like more of that in my life. Maybe I am thriving but I don't feel like it. I'm managing, hanging on for a crazy ride. Juggling many hats and tasks each day.
Probably I just need a vacation.
I won't be taking "official" time-off-work vacation till September. But the kids are working at camp for seven weeks and with their absence goes a lot of my busyness.
Celine is home all summer, but at 20 is independent and has a circle of friends, church, and a social life that doesn't depend on my involvement. I don't need to drive, organize, or supervise any of it. Glory be. She's gainfully self-employed, saving money for her September start at university. I guess you could say she's kind of launched, at least partly. Hallelujah!
What I want this summer is time to notice, time to stop and savor. Time in the woods. Time for travel and adventures. Time to rediscover my sense of wonder. I want to feel like I've stepped off the busy-train, that I have some agency in my life to make that choice.
These years will be gone before I know it. I'm trying to enjoy them, really I am. But I do need a break and I'm hoping summer will be that for me.
Part of the reason I take photos is to remember all that is good in my life. I tend to see things negatively, and stress amplifies that. Photography is a spiritual discipline of sorts that helps me stop and see the true, good, beautiful and lovely things in my life.
I don't have as much time for photography as I once did and the quality of the photos in blog posts from the last year forward are not as great, as I rely on my old iPhone more often than not. It's just easier when you have less time.
supper out after hiking
After writing this post I went through May's photos to find images to add. And there it was, staring me right in the face; the truth of a good, beautiful, and lovely life.
My angst is also true. But it's not the whole story, it never is.
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