The end of the summer.

I’m sitting in a sun drenched living room, son2 fully absorbed in the ponderous world of ‘Tractor Ted’. I’ve been storing up thoughts for this blog post for a while, time to sit and reflect has been in short supply here over these last few weeks.

Today is the last day of the summer ‘holiday’. Son1 made it back to school yesterday and tomorrow son2 has his first taste of nursery again before the weekend hits. It’s an odd week but good to have a slow gentle ease into some kind of routine.

We’ve done it. Our first long summer holiday without the lovely husbandface off with us.

As I begin to write about our summer I’m aware that in telling my story I run the risk of comparisons, some might be thinking they would love such time with the kids all summer. Some might be thinking, finally she knows what it’s like. Some might be thinking, this is what it’s like all the time. But the truth is that all our stories are different, the loads we bear, our capacity for what life throws at us is different. Comparisons don’t really achieve much. Some of our stories echo in each other’s hearts and we are glad and some grate and we feel pain.

The challenge seems to be to tell our stories authentically and then to listen to others stories without envy or pride in comparing ourselves less favourably or more favourably. Which sounds good when I write it down, but is much harder to achieve in reality. It’s hard to not compare because we tell our stories, in part, to know we are not alone. Maybe we feel more alone if a story doesn’t create resonance within us. Maybe. Anyway. I worry about these things. How can we truly hear each other’s stories without the negative comparison voices? Any clues?

Anyway… back to the story…

We have survived the summer. The boys struggled for the first two weeks, we managed to have fun in the van for the middle two weeks and found some kind of happy groove in the last two weeks. We’ve bumbled around on seashores, at parks, in libraries and seeing friends at pretty National Trust places. I’ve been frustrated by my shouting, the boys fighting and the lack of head space. I’ve lived a head down get on with it all existence. I’ve enjoyed the wonder of my boys and their unconditional love for their messed up Mummy. We’ve read books, we’ve camped with family, we’ve all learnt all the words to the Greatest Showman soundtrack and we’ve lived out of normal routine for so long that we got into another routine.

I’ve read several books, which one day I’ll actually sum up in a blog post, that have given me much joy in the times the boys are staring at the tv. I’ve had thoughts but been unable to express them anywhere and I’ve struggled with the longing for space and the constant call to make the most of this space right now with the ones who one day won’t want to fold themselves into my lap for huggles.

Husbandface has been pretty sick still. We bumble on through the long days and nights. We try and hope for healing. We try and live well in the dark not knowing if change will come.

It’s been an odd few weeks. Full of brilliant moments and full of great pain and sorrow. Full of wanting to enjoy and embrace and wanting to run and hide. Full of not wanting to complain and full of finding it hard and long. Full of finding the end of myself and then experiencing that the morning always comes, the sun never stops rising and the darkness is followed by a new day. Coffee always comes in the morning. (That’s in the Bible right? Mourning may last for a night but coffee comes in the morning? Er..)

Today the sun is shining bright and hope feels accessible. I’ve enjoyed a stomp on the downs with an excellent friend, her dog and my smallest. He only needed a couple of encouragement hugs to get around the walk and once more I can feel us stepping into new phases of life. My smallest doesn’t feel so small this side of the summer. He is unbelievably proud that he’s worked out pants are better than nappies. (I kind of knew he’d figure it out one day…). He is taller and more articulate than ever. The preschool years are slowly coming to an end. One more year and our landscape will be different again.

Yesterday Son1 walked his friend confidently into their year one classroom and when I picked him up 6 hours later actually told me some stuff about his day before collapsing in his room with a story cd. I know the storms will come but I’m glad he had a good start. My heart aches at another new place and person to trust with my boy. I know there are good reasons to trust and excellent ways to build that trust but the transition from knowing his teacher ‘got’ him last year to an unknown is hard. I guess this leaving will always be strange in some ways. I have to fight my instinct to put him in a cupboard and work hard on providing his safe place he can always return to in the storms of this life. He flourished so much last year and I ache for more of the same this year. But I can not control his world. I cannot make everyone adore and appreciate him. He will face hard stuff and I cannot stop it. I can, however, help him through it, chop vegetables with him for our dinner and listen to his meandering thoughts. I can huggle and huggle and huggle again. I can drink deep from the wells of grace our Maker has so I can pour it out on him. I can desperately trust that he is known and loved by The One who knit him deep in me 6 years ago. That the One who held us then, holds us now and will never ever let go.

And so on those waters of hope we set sail into the term ahead. I have work to do, I have rest to take, I have small people to love when they return from their ventures into this crazy world and pour out the crazy into the safety of home. I have One I want to pour out my crazy on as we journey on.

The skies are blue. The grass is green. The sun shines high. It’s a good day for sailing on. See you out there…

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