the autumn of my discontent

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I’ve been looking forward to this for at least a month. But now that it’s here, I feel rudderless, directionless, bored and alone.

I’m talking about the beginning of the school year, a Nirvana that mothers around the globe anticipate with a longing that grows exponentially with each passing week as their patience, tempers and sense of humor verge on being permanently lost.

After more and more frequent — and sometimes (but not always!) regrettable — episodes of losing it (“Will you PLEASE, for the thousandth time, PUHLEEEZE, hang your dang wet towel on the rack, do your chores — I don’t care whose turn it is – stop FIGHTING — and GET OFF THE COMPUTER!!!!!!!!!!!!), I was decidedly ready for “those people” (as my friend Lynn likes to call them) to GO BACK TO SCHOOL.

And two weeks ago, they went. Hallelujah, praise the Lord!! In what can only be termed “a frenzy” that first week I rearranged my house, picked out new paint color for the living and dining rooms, built a rocket ship, had lunch with my friends, put together new furniture, played tennis, finally went to the chiropractor and thought about looking for more freelance work for the first time in weeks.  Okay, so I didn’t rearrange the whole house — or build a rocket ship — but I felt like I coulda’.

But last week and this week were…different.  Rather than bursting with energy and purpose, I’ve felt strangely empty. I even thought about looking for a “real” job, which happens to me periodically when I lack the creative juices to figure out how to use my creative juices.

What is this malaise, then? Is it the let-down after an amazing summer — Paris for three weeks, the beach in Virginia to cap it off? Is it a lack of motivation to scrounge for piecemeal, peanut work in this lousy economy (can you blame me?)? Is it the change of seasons, the snap in the air that seemed to hit on the first day of September?

Or…could it be…do I actually miss my children?

It is…possible.  Despite my cynical ravings above, my daughters and I had lots of fun this summer – not just on the amazing trips, but in the wonderful  day-to-day of an easy summer rhythm that hummed along — sometimes  lazily like the cicadas, sometimes more fervently — and seemed like it would last forever, but simply didn’t: waking up late; staying up late; going to the pool; going to camp; running through the sprinkler; eating grilled food, fresh vegetables and ice cream; riding bikes and wearing shorts,  telling ghost stories  and playing ”RIP” into the night or until the mosquitoes chased everyone in.

Maybe it’s that with each passing, mixed-bag summer, the transition to school becomes more and more bittersweet, more sharply focused and frankly, while I look forward to it heartily, a little heart-breaking.

Could be because each summer I have with my children, every summer that they are still young enough to enjoy all those things we enjoyed, is a poignant and beautiful gift. Soon enough – and it already started a little this year with my 13-year-old — they will no longer want me around. And then, as quickly and abruptly as they entered my life, my sweet little girls will no longer be here.  I imagine it will feel much, much emptier around here when they’re gone.  And their wonderful innocence, their unburdened childhoods and, frankly (and selfishly), my chance to be a kid again with them will be gone, too.

And if I listen carefully, a tiny, whiny, pathetic voice whispering in the back of my mind wonders, “Without them, who am I? Without them, what will I do?”


I guess it’s about time I figured that out.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lynn Steele
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 04:46:20

    You could always encourage your girls to get pregnant and you could raise the grandkids as your own Molly.


  2. Kelly
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 05:01:30

    Thanks for the cry, mole…


  3. Rachel Greenhouse
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 06:36:46

    Molly, this is the cry of so many women.

    It’s definitely a good idea to start working on knowing who you are now rather than when they leave the house. If nothing else, it will make the next years with them even richer. They will see their mother as an active creator of her own life.

    Blessings to you…

    p.s. If you haven’t already, start upping that Vitamin D3 right away. Take it from me…since last Thursday I have been feeling rudderless too and for me, much of it is because of the season and its accompanying change in the rhythm of life.


    • mollykelash
      Sep 16, 2010 @ 07:16:02

      It feels like I’ve been through this already, is the sad thing. Like I had it figured out, but then another layer peels away to reveal that actually, I really don’t. Existential angst…how I LOVE it.


  4. Anne-Marie Wagener
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 06:53:52

    Very touching and well written posting, Molly. I know what you mean but I have to say that I see my daughter’s departure from home as her journey just beginning and that excites me. You need to start cultivating sometime that is just yours without them at all and now. I have no doubt that I’ll be just as devastated when Carmen leaves, but I think I’ll still feel curious and expectant about her life taking off. What I do with mine, is up to me.


  5. Rachel Greenhouse
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 07:28:42

    AMW: Lovely and brilliant as always.


  6. Mary B
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 16:26:13

    Molly: shhhh, I’ll share a secret: you can still be a kid, anytime you want!! (shhhhh, don’t tell anyone!!) Miss my kiddles this year, too, which makes me more patient with them when I have them around, as I realize how quickly our their childhood flies by.

    Another great entry, you know you still have me thinking about a trip to Minneapolis, snow or no snow! Bisous!

    ~Mary B.


  7. Becky
    Sep 27, 2010 @ 14:17:11

    Hello Molly
    Bit late getting to your blog this month, sorry. Now I don’t have kids so I don’t know anything about any of that. But I do know that you can have grilled food and fresh vegetables all year round. In fact, I believe I’ve done it myself.
    I also have a bone to pick with you: the way you’re saying it, the following decade is going to be over in a matter of minutes. Please don’t write our lives away so speedily. I for one anticipate that the next five years of my life are going to pass by in slightly less than an aeon. So goodness only knows how long ten will take.
    Oh, and I’ve just thought of something. Don’t you have that system in America whereby if you’re really stupid you have to keep doing the same school year again and again? Can you not see the solution right in front of your face, Molly? Take your girls for a gentle lobotomy or some such brain-reducing surgery- then they’ll have to stay at school forever and you’ll be buying them gym knickers and pencil sharpeners when they’re 57.
    Smile emoticon back at you. You know I’m lovely really.
    Lots of love from Becky x x x
    PS. autumn is my favourite time of year – enjoy it for me x x x


  8. Marly
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 06:45:58

    Lovely post. I feel so much the same way as you. My daughter is 14 and it seems like just yesterday she was only 9. That means it will feel just like *that* and she’ll be gone – on to college and to start her own life. And I have appreciated the moments we’ve had. And I do feel excited for her own life blossoming in front of her. I just feel sad for me. Selfish, I know, but I just adore this girl. I feel like she’s one of my soul mates in life. I had a friend tell me, reassuringly, that she’s in touch with her daughter every day through text messages, cell phones, and even skype. That made me feel a little better.

    We moms have to stick together and help out through these tough days. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.


    • mollykelash
      Oct 28, 2010 @ 18:55:50

      Hi Marly — sorry I’m so late responding to you. Thanks so very much for reading and I am glad you can relate. Life never gets really all that easy, does it? sigh……


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