Vision

October 08,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

L.'s fall break is winding down. On Monday he heads back to school, and we take our deep breaths and cross our fingers, and hope for the best. It's been a great two weeks--not just because we've been able to snatch some extra sleep (T.'s school starts at 9:10, L.'s at 8:20) in the mornings, and I've been able to free myself from the tyrrany of the daily doughnut, and from the homework battles, and the daily reading logs that feel literally like extracting water from a stone, but because we've enjoyed the chance to reconnect with L. again. There are too many days when L. seems so far from us, too stressed out and overwhelmed to reconnect after the long day. Just how difficult his re-entry into his family life is for him after a school day has been brought home to us in startling ways by T.'s experience in kindergarten. She glides back seamlessly into her family life as soon as the door is opened at car pool, picking up just where she left off--no meltdowns, no drama, no stress. So this is what it's supposed to be like, I tell myself. Yesterday I finished work in the afternoon and drove over to my husband's campus to pick up L. As I crossed the brick, acorn-strewn pathways leading to Scott's building, I thought about how often L. and I had played along the paths together on windy days much like that day, when we had first moved to town--back in the days when we had one car and I was Scott's ride to, and from work. Those were difficult days, too, but in hindsight they seem so ideal, so perfect and unmarred; all the bumps in the road that seemed so taxing at the time (a day without naps, for instance, was enough to shift me into crisis mode), seem like nothing now. And while my wistful visions of toddler T. are just those: wistful and nostalgia-filled visions of powdery-smelling diapers and night-nursing sessions, my visions of L., with his rounded toddler legs, his earnest purpose about everything he did, his pooched out cheeks, wispy hair--those visions on a bad day can make me ache. But yesterday, surrounded by all those memories swirling around me with the gusty wind, I saw Scott and L. heading towards me from the top of the path. My son seems so tall to me these days, all arms and legs and floppy, over-sized crocs on his feet. He was licking a lollipop and carrying a box, and rushed towards me, bursting to tell me something. At that moment all the images I have of L.--past, present, and imagined future ones, blurred together into one--the good, happy one that was the here and now at that very moment, the one that contains the rose-tinted glimpses of the past, and the one that will take us all by leaps into tomorrow, whatever it may bring. ************* This year the stars and the planets are aligned just right and Scott and I both ended up with the same long weekend for Fall Break--the same weekend that falls at the end of L.'s two-week break. To celebrate, we're taking the kids to Colonial Williamsburg tomorrow. We've been spending quite a bit of time on this site (go to the Kids link on the right-hand side for lots of fun and educational games and activities). Since we're traveling with our pooch, too, we had to do some research on dog-friendly hotels, etc., and found this site, with a feature on Colonial Williamsburg--a dog-friendly place, luckily. I'm really excited. The kids are really excited. Back on Monday with the low-down. Until then, Happy Weekend!