Wake Me Up When September Ends

It seems to me that September has often brought change and transition into my life. Obviously, there’s the years of navigating those first days of school, first as a student and later as a teacher. There was the year in high school when September brought me an unlooked-for breakup, and another year when it saw the same boyfriend (now ex, again) move away, which ended any chance of us ending up together. Which was, in hindsight, all part of God’s good and perfect plan for my life.

September always brought the settling back into routine from the joyful chaos and frivolity of summer, but it often brought pain with that transition. The aforementioned rocky high school romance, sure, but it also brought tension back to our home as my step-sisters returned from summering with their mom, and we had to learn how to function as a family again. It brought the realization that the next time I would see my dad was likely to be months away, because a 6 hour drive was just a little too long for Thanksgiving break.

September makes me nostalgic for high school and college football games, Homecoming parades, and melancholy songs. And while there’s nearly always been joy in September, the melancholy of Fall hits me hard more often than not.

This September has been much the same as before. The transition from summer to fall, the return of routine, the saying goodbye to one season as we welcome another. There are joyful things: soup on Sundays, finally ripening tomatoes, the return of college football. (I love my Montana Grizzlies).

But there is also melancholy. This is the first year since my youngest was in kindergarten that I haven’t shared a first day of school with any of my children. Not quite two weeks ago, we put her on a plane to London, where she will spend the next year interning at one of our sister churches, working with low-income families, and helping with youth and worship. I’m so proud of what she’s doing, this path that she’s on, but I miss her so.

We all agree that last year was just messed up, but even though Fall sports didn’t happen, I still had a kiddo going to practices and the promise of a cross country season later in the year. This fall is the first since we moved to Spokane that won’t find me anticipating cheering on one of my kids at an XC meet. We are no longer parents of high school students, but neither are we empty nesters. Finding myself on the outside of an identity is disconcerting at times.

Change, for me, is hard. I am a creature of habit, I crave predictability and routines. (If you read my blog, you already know this). And while there’s a big part of me that would just like to wake up in October with the changes already done, I’ve learned over the years that the only way out is through, and that there are new opportunities as seasons end and others begin.

Now that we are “non-student” parents, we find ourselves with more evenings and weekends free than ever before. Gone are the days of an overwhelmed calendar to support every child in their various pursuits. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those days. But now? Dinner with friends on a whim instead of weeks or months of coordinating schedules. Regular writing time that’s not taken up with dentist or doctor’s appointments. More availability, for me particularly, to be involved with our church family. Opportunities that didn’t exist when our schedules were too full.

I’m confident that there are good things ahead, even in the change. September days often still feel like summer, so there are picnics and Fall walks and changing leaves to look forward to. There might even still be paddle boarding this year. And then, as the weather changes, there is banana bread and apple pie and chocolate chip cookies (all very Fall desserts).

Transition, for me, can be hard, but there is joy to be found as well. So while September may always be a month of change, here’s to finding the joy and opportunities along the way.

This post started out as an update, and turned into something quite different. It’s one of the things I love about writing. That said, I have an announcement about some upcoming posts on the blog. Read on:

I’m so excited to announce a guest blog series, starting next week, September 17th. I have three guests lined up to take us into October. These ladies are part of a writers group that I belong to: hope*writers. They will help us explore our legacy and our traditions as we move fully into Fall. I hope you’ll join us!!

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