tran·si·tion

Dearest Friends,

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, at this point written weeks ago, this fall has been a time of transition for our family.  When we moved to New Hampshire six years ago, we fell in love with a small Waldorf School on top of a hill and knew it was the safe, warm, healing place we’d been seeking for our children.  On top of another nearby hill, we found a 200-year-old house with fireplace hearths and apple trees and stone walls that whispered, “You’re home,” when we walked through the front door.  Others spoke to us of high schools and local school districts, but we loved the Waldorf School and the old house, and besides, high school was forever away.

And then six years passed…

and Tucker was graduating from 8th grade, his last year at Waldorf.  And suddenly the issue of high school and school districts was upon us.  And Tuck fell in love with a school 45 minutes away from our old home on top of the hill.  And I wondered how I’d get him to that new school, and Andie to her 7th grade class in the Waldorf School.

And thus began even more transition.

And we soon discovered that our dear Andie is a child resistant to change, a child who needs an enormous amount of time to process decisions.  Ultimately, she chose to move to the school where her brother had enrolled, but it was a spring and summer full of tears and great angst.  And as much as Lee and I knew that new school was a wonderful fit for her, the frequent nights she cried herself to sleep left us lying in bed, wide-eyed, questioning our decision.

And now here we are, a month into the new school year, with all those questions behind us, knowing that both children are exactly where they’re meant to be, broadening and thriving in their new school.

And I finally let out an enormous exhale, only to find that I’m absolutely wrung dry.

And all I want is for all of this change to be over and behind us.

“I think we’re passed the transition phase,” I said to Lee last week.  “That we’ve got this all figured out.”  Because that’s what I do – jump in with both feet, give it everything I’ve got and aim for the finish line.  Only once again, I’ve come to find out that the finish line doesn’t exist.

That transition is perpetual.

transitionthe process or period of changing from one state or condition to another.

And isn’t that just what we’re constantly doing “changing from one state or condition to another” in each and every moment of everyday?

Walking through the woods this past weekend, thinking about transition and where I am in my life right now, the same question kept running through my mind… What’s next?…  What’s next?… What’s next?  I walked in rhythm to that chant until I hardly recognized it was there. I walked on until I emerged from the woods and saw a friend out in her garden.  I sat down on her stonewall and found my chant spilling out into formed words.  “I don’t know what’s next,” I told her, explaining how straight out of college I’d started teaching in Boston.  How just months after Tucker’s birth I’d started after-school creative writing workshops, and how upon moving to New Hampshire, I’d thrown myself into the process of writing, publishing and promoting a book.  And now, I had no idea what was next.

Picking up a few of the hydrangea she’d just cut, my friend paused.  “I guess I’m using this time in my life to refill my well,” she said.  Her words seemed to float in the air, enveloping me in their simplicity.

“You’re allowed to do that?” I asked, both of us laughing and sighing simultaneously.

The rest of my walk home brought a new theme song; the What’s Next song, replaced by the Refilling My Well song.  And that new music washed over me like a joyous symphony.

I’m just discovering what refilling my well looks like, but I’m pretty sure that in between making breakfasts, packing lunches, washing soccer uniforms, gluing letters on poster board projects and driving back and forth to school and soccer games, it involves lots more long walks, yoga classes, hand-written letters to old friends, wandering through garden and vintage shops, meditating on my yoga mat, diving into the stack of books piled on my bedside table and filling the pages of my black and white composition notebooks with new thoughts, stories and observations.  What I also see in that “Refilling My Well Picture” is a more present, centered me, ready to meet and welcome my children back into our home, the place that waits for them as they move further and further out into the world.

This blog has been a place I’ve so loved meeting you every week for the past couple of years, but I feel it’s now time to close my computer for a while and allow those fresh story and writing ideas to emerge as I begin this well-filling process.  I will so miss our connection, but as heavy as my heart feels, I know for now, that this is the right decision.

I’d love to stay in touch and hope we do through my Facebook pages – Kasey Mathews & Preeemie: Love, Life and Motherhood, and there’s also Twitter or you can email me at prematurejourney@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for being a part of this journey and allowing me to share in yours.  I am deeply grateful.

With blessings and much love,

Kasey

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Trust

I gave my 10 year-old-daughter permission to ride her bike to the library.  Alone.

She’s old enough and it’s only a quarter of a mile away.  Right?

She’s been gone eight minutes.  I’m sure she’s fine, but what if the tote bag I gave her is too long?  What if it gets caught in the bike spokes?  It won’t.  But it could.  And she could go right over the handlebars.  Oh my. What if right this moment she’s sprawled on the sidewalk bleeding and terrified, hoping someone will come along to help her?

She’s not.  But she could be.

14 minutes!

Actually… I just remembered I need a book from the library.  Should I?

Or do I just sit and wait and trust and know that she’s protected?

Do I recognize that this is just a little step in all the big steps she’ll eventually take toward independence?

I know this swirling, flip-floppy feeling in my gut.  It’s the same feeling I get every year when Andie goes back to school.  All those post-NICU fears come flooding back, reminding me that I can’t always be there to protect her.  (I’ve never experienced quite the same level of anxiety over Tucker who was born on his due date at a hearty 8 pounds.  Yet sometimes my mind decides my vigilance is misplaced and begins fretting over him as well.) Usually the first day is the worst.  I imagine her falling from the slide or a sick kid sneezing on her. I want to send her to school wrapped in bubble wrap with a dust mask covering her mouth and nose.

But I don’t.

Instead I breathe.

And I trust.

And I try to focus on something to keep my busy, worrying mind, calm and at ease.  Writing often works.  So does a walk in the woods, or stretching, or a good book, or classical music or a new recipe.  Sometimes just saying I’m scared out loud helps, or repeating a prayer or mantra…Please bless and keep my children safe and protected…

And sometimes nothing works at all.  She’s been gone twenty-two minutes and you’re sitting here writing!  My edgy mind just screamed at me.

I’m going to the library.

But, wait.  Who is this rounding the corner?  It’s my little bird returning to the nest!  Look at her pedaling along with a sack full of books and that proud smile!

I knew she was fine.

She always is.

I, on the other hand, have some work to do!

What about you?  How do you manage your child’s return to school?

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Vacation

Every year we take the kids to Florida for spring break.  We stay with my parents and lounge on the beach, swim at the pool, hit tennis balls and bike to the nearby café.  The kids love it, I love it, Lee loves it (even though he can only come for a few days) and of course my parents love it, too.

I started looking at dates and airfares in early March while the snow was still falling and we were packing up every weekend for another ski race.   A couple of times I came close to pressing the “reserve tickets” button but for some reason I didn’t.  Something was holding me back.  My dad kept asking if I’d booked the tickets, and by the end of March, I still hadn’t.  As the price of oil went up, so did those tickets, and I still hadn’t made any reservations.

And then I decided that this was the year we just wouldn’t go.

Everyone was disappointed.  I tried to explain how the winter had been so long and exhausting, seeming as if it would never end.  We even had an inch of snow on the ground the day before Easter!  But warm southern weather is exactly what you need everyone argued.  And I agreed, but try as I might, I couldn’t muster up the energy to even think about the trip.

So we stayed home.  A “staycation,” my neighbor called it.

Staying home is really a whole new concept for us. We usually don’t have time to unpack our bags from one weekend driving here, there and everywhere before we start packing for another.  But as vacation week arrived, and we had no suitcases to pack, no time schedules to adhere to, I felt my tense shoulders start to relax.

As the days have passed, we’ve turned off alarm clocks and become reacquainted with our pillows.  The kids have rediscovered their love of Lego building, modeling clay and drawing comics.  We’ve replaced the wordsneed tohave to or must with the words feel likewant to or maybe. We’ve eaten lots of thick slices of French toast with strawberries and syrup and the cold sore on Tucker’s lip has finally cleared up.  We’ve played wiffle ball and taken lots of slow walks in the woods and watched the first Harry Potter movie during a big, loud thunderstorm.

I planned to take the kids to the coast or into Boston to the science museum, but even traveling just over an hour from home somehow seems too far.

Our big outing yesterday was to the local diner in the next town over.  After the kids devoured their chocolate chip pancakes, we wandered around town and discovered a park tucked behind the main street. We followed the path that wanders along the river and dropped in leaves to watch them float down stream.  We even caught a glimpse of a beaver running along the opposite shore.

We walked to the town green, and I snapped pictures of the kids sitting on benches next to the bronzed statues of children that we’d never even noticed before.  I wondered if the statues were new, but realized we usually cross the green to the chant of Let’s goCome on or Hurry as we run in to pick up take out or cross some other errand of our list.

As the kids posed for the photos, Andie said, “Mom, we’re like those people who travel somewhere and take lots of pictures.”

“Tourists?” I asked.

“Yeah, tourists,” she said.

And I realized she was right.  We are tourists, finally discovering this whole new world that’s been hidden right in front of us, waiting for us to slow down enough to see it.

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