Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Onward and Upward into a New School Year

I can tell I'm a little out of sorts. Second-guessing decisions, feeling pressure when I'm asked to give more of my energies or time to something, and at times on the edge with my family. The words that exit my mouth involuntarily show evidence of my insecurities, which seem more profound these past couple of weeks or month than normal.

Could it be from entering a new season, a new school year?
Several friends have teased me in the past couple of weeks because of my typical back-to-school nocturnal wrestlings ~ lying awake at night worrying about my children, their activities and schools and church and whether or not we're making the best choices along the way...

This is our second year with all four kiddos in school. Yesterday morning, after dropping kids off for their first day, I took a walk alone. And just like the first day of school last year, I walked past the playground behind our house where a few young moms visited while their pre-schoolers squealed and ran and played. I can't help but see my children in those toddlers, Bran's then-curly golden locks and Hud's then-squatty legs racing around the slide. And I see myself in those women, a season where even interrupted sleep - any sleep - is a valued commodity, spills and messes remain a constant companion, and giggles, squeals, screeches and cries greet your every turn.

Corbin and I celebrated our 16th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. We are still scratching our heads that we're no longer a "young family" with toddlers and preschoolers, but instead all our children are  "between the Ds." Diapers and driving, that is.

On the way to an anniversary dinner, Corbin surprised me by stopping by our old home. Just a few blocks from where we now live, we pass this house all the time. It's on our way to and from virtually everywhere. But it's been a decade since we tearfully put the For Sale sign in the yard and moved our two baby boys and Yukon about a mile down the road to a little larger home on a little less crowded street.

That sweet little Bellaire house is for sale again. And as per Corbin's arrangements, that evening as we pulled up, the vacant home was unlocked.
A zillion memories born here

Ten years of TCU students living on these premises had taken its toll, but it was more in tact than I imagined. We walked up the curved stone path hand-in-hand, reminded of the curb appeal of this quaint colonial home with the wide porch and widow's railing that stole our hearts sixteen years ago. The house is still painted our gray-green with white trim. The porch seemed a bit smaller, with an empty space where our swing once hung from the beadboard ceiling. Corbin's shutters still adorn the windows, the ones he crafted on a saw horse with a circular saw in the front yard one Saturday afternoon. The Ichthus plaque remains by the doorbell, practically molded into the brick. Installed by residents before us, we loved that little plaque and its simplicity. A new front door opens easily, replacing its heavy, cracked predecessor. And the "new" porch lights we installed, which were hardly ever turned to the off switch, served as our "come on in" (or not) signal to college students.

Walking into the cozy living room, it was all I could manage to choke back sobs. The rush of memories from what felt like a lifetime ago engulfed me. The wooden spiral staircase stood a little less grand without Grandad's gilded mirror. Velvet curtains Mom and I made, still draped from the inexpensive but pretty curtain rods. The little kitchen remodeled with our dark green granite and white-washed floor and corbels. Our master bedroom devoid of the antique headboard and Corbin's parents' furniture. The guest room which became Bran's playroom and then eventually morphed into his first big-boy room. The spot where the leather sofa sat, usually filled to the brim with college students. Corbin's crown molding still flanks the bathroom mirror, the space where we got ready for work together every morning until we moved our master into a remodeled upstairs (and I quit working!). The sunroom filled with built-in bookshelves overlooking the tiny backyard that still needs a lot of TLC. And the second floor with it's hardy carpet, french doors into our bedroom, and a sweet little nursery for Bran and then Hud with built-ins and dormer windows.


I heard voices in the echoes of those empty rooms and hallways, voices of college students and visiting friends and two precious little boys born into our family during our years there. One of the things that struck me most was walking into the back yard, and the tiny, spindly crepe myrtles that Corbin planted all those years ago have grown into legitimate trees that tower over the entire yard and fence line. The difference just a few years make.

I see that in our family, in our children, in myself. The difference a few years makes. The boys are growing into young men. Bran is nearly 6 feet tall, and just yesterday we bought a pair of size 12 cleats. Hud isn't too far behind, and watching his mind work reminds me that he's growing and maturing, as his logic at times surpasses mine. Our girls are maturing as well, both well past the pre-school years and surprising me with their ability to think and reason and communicate. And cartwheel.

As everyone says, it's going fast. In the changing of seasons, and the speed of which they fly by (!),  I continue wrestling with our choices in raising these precious, amazing kiddos. I continue to hope and strive for a deeper, richer marriage, one where we're not simply passing information and working to get everything done and get everyone where they need to get, but taking each day as a gift to be together as a couple, as a family.

One day these rooms here in our home on Ranier Court will be empty. At some point, the Wilson family will move on from this place. For the time being, I remain grateful and overwhelmed and touched by God's gifts and goodness to me, to our family. With gratitude and expectant anticipation of another year, and all the beauty and mystery it holds...
The view, these days, from our front porch