Monday, September 15, 2014

When they hatch, count them

I don’t count my chickens until they hatch, a habit that’s gotten me into trouble, as it did when my figurative chicken hatched three weeks early and I almost delivered her in an elevator. But it’s also saved me heartache, with several, “I never thought it would happen anyway” predictions I’d rather have been wrong about.

Still, I’ve always known, for a fact, that the calendar would eventually arrive at the second of September 2014. And for several months, I’ve known that on that day, despite my superstitious doubts, both kids would finally attend the same school. No more preschool: they’d be in together in elementary school.

One school. One drive. One calendar. One parents’ association. One place to focus our commitment to their learning.

Did I say one drive?

For the past three years, I’ve been doing what folks around here call the Bermuda Triangle. The towns aren’t that far away: twenty minutes here, twenty minutes there, a bit of traffic at the expected times.  Everyone knows the drill. It’s a triangle, but you feel that you’re just driving in circles. And it’s added an extra hour and a half each day for what on paper seems to be only a few miles.

I don’t think most parents look for sympathy when they admit to hating a part of their routine that is of their own making. But can I share an unexpected moment of happiness?

It snuck up on me like a jolt of giddiness at 4pm the day before school started: an honest smile that wouldn’t leave. My husband said I was glowing. It wasn’t a compliment. He was reading a book and looked up because of the glare.

How we’d gotten into the Bermuda Triangle rut, as with most things in life, was due to a haphazard collection of choices. We found jobs, a home, an elementary school, a preschool, and bam—we were in the Bermuda Triangle.

The time-sucking danger zone wasn’t just on the literal road, it was in other things: school schedules that didn’t overlap which was a real shuffle when I was teaching full time and we had three schedules to remember. And friendships, not for my children, but for me. In some ways, I could say I doubled my connections. But to be honest, I was pulled. I was always in a rush to get to the other school and not able to commit to the things that build relationships beyond a pleasant “hello”.

These woes were all small beans in the context of larger problems, but over time, minor burdens take their toll, ones you may not appreciate fully until they’re lifted.

And that’s what happened.

While my girls took one last jump in the town pool they’ve played in all summer, my husband and I sat in the late afternoon sun, and I realized, that at long last, I could finally count my chickens.

Thank you for reading Lunch Box Mom. I invite you to hop over to my blog focused on education and parenting, The Educated Mom, to see my new post on the JoltSensor, a concussion tracking device invented by a recent MIT grad. It may change the way you watch from the sidelines.