Summer is finally over. The beach towels are washed and folded and put away. Bathing suits are tucked in the back of drawers and the bathroom no longer smells of chlorine. Long, lazy days of sleeping in and staying up late are gone, and the alarm is set for an alarmingly early morning wake-up call. Lunch boxes are packed. Back packs are stuffed with sharpened pencils and bright, new erasers.
Tomorrow a new year starts. I will send my baby off to her first year in public education. It will be the first time in ten years that I don't have at least one child at home. It is a new world for her, and a new one for me as well.
Every fall the schedules in our family change, and we adjust. Another child in school. Another activity to carpool to. A different Bible study on a different day. I love routine. I thrive on it. This yearly shaking up of our lives unnerves me a bit. I spend a few very unsettled weeks trying to find my niche again and figure out how to fit it all in.
I get a bit annoyed when well-meaning people ask me, "What will you do with all your free time this year?" I admit, much to my own shame, I secretly thought this about other stay-at-home mothers years ago; I am pleased that I never actually voiced the words out loud, maybe somehow knowing deep down that they would come back to haunt me.
Part of my annoyance is because I don't consider myself suddenly "unemployed." I could easily spend the rest of this year, six hours a day, trying to recover our home from the chaos that ensued when three children came into our lives and brought with them more clothes and toys and games and art supplies and books than I could have possibly imagined three young children could accumulate in such a short time. Besides this, cooking, dishes, laundry, vacuuming... the mundane tasks of keeping a home running would be enough.
But above this, I consider myself a writer, and I consider writing a job, and now, hopefully, my hours have shifted from the late night hours to the more traditional (and probably productive) daytime. I'm not planning on watching TV talk shows and eating bon bons. I'm planning on working from home. In a very real sense, I feel like I am going back to work.
Tonight the kids laid out their clothes for tomorrow, double-checked their supply lists and summer reading logs. I am laying out my plan for editing the novel I finished this summer. I am planning rewrites, and query letters, and agents. I am writing a new schedule for my day, so that I don't neglect writing in exchange for child-free grocery shopping trips or neglect cleaning bathrooms for writing. Finding the balance is always the hardest part for me.
Tomorrow is a new day. A new year, with bright possibilities and full of big dreams. It is the first day of the rest of the year, and I am more ready than I have every been.
Nervous as I am, anxious about change, I am also excited. Let's bring it on!