It was nearly a year ago that I sat on a porch in Ithaca, NY, listening to the evening and not needing to be doing anything. Those non-busy moments are really rare, but I’m having another one tonight. I’m again traveling, visiting my best friend from forever, my first solo vacation in years. At the moment she’s working out at the gym, and I am sitting on her lovely deck, surrounded by flowers and trees taller than you’ll ever see in Minnesota, listening to a constant chorus of insects and birds.
It’s bittersweet, though. It’s partially solo because Mari has finally reached the time of teenagerdom when she would rather Thom and I were somewhere else, all the time – rather like the Peanuts parents, completely invisible. Despite that, I think she had some homesickness, being at her first away-from-home camp this week, and the joy of seeing my friend is compounded by the relief that I am completely distracted from worry most of the time (save 3A.M.).
I haven’t done much writing at all for several months. I thought the summer break would give me time to contemplate and peruse and think, but here it is 60% over and there’s been only a handful of thoughtful moments. There’s been visits to my family, to Thom’s family, a little sightseeing that included several waterfalls and some beautiful hiking, a much-anticipated musical, lots of driving to and fro, gardening, walking, and all the usual responsibilities. There was some pizza on the grill, reading with my unofficial therapy cat, and a little kayaking. Time speeds by. I knew of all those plans and summer routines, but to be honest the main thing that kept me from prioritizing thinking time was mostly useless: Worry.
I worried a fair amount when Mari was younger. Toddlers often seem bent on killing themselves in one way or another, and then there are all the various illnesses, and as they grow there are different things to worry about. But for us, the tween and early teen years were about as close to carefree as I think we’ve been. And now they’re gone, and replaced with worries that I should have anticipated but did not. So many things to worry about with teens, and so difficult to find the right amount of rules, guidance, assistance.
This transition has been so strong in our household that it feels like the healthy and mindful habits that I worked to build over the years have evaporated for all of us. We have lost equilibrium.
My priority for the remainder of my break is to regain my own balance, and to be patient as Mari continues to whirl out of balance. The most difficult part of my job is to trust that she will find it, that the support, love, ideals, and principles we have lived will stay with her, and that she will be safe until the spinning stops.