You are the closest adage I can think of for a Chinese saying that translates to "reel your heart back" (收心). I grew up hearing those words whenever it was time to stop having fun. Needless to say, I was not very fond of the saying, but what better time to contemplate your meaning than with the start of back-to-school?
"How was your summer?" was how everyone greeted each other at Meet the Teacher Day at school. How was my summer? I always stuttered answering because there aren't enough ways to explain how glorious it was...
It was filled with frozen desserts: ice cream, frozen yogurt, soft serve, frozen custard, paired with a crunchy but light waffle cone. It was spent under beautiful skies and a gentle sun. It was visiting old traditions and making new ones: blueberry pie, made; a few adventurous rides, check. It was ten weeks of guilt-free laze complete with sleeping in and carefree meals. It was sibling playtime around the clock. It was swimming and baking and farming and sandcastle-building. It was binge reading and margarita nights and spur-of-the-moment trips and Candy Crushing. It was spent listening to the chirps of cicadas wondering how much more summer we will have, and if I would notice when they stopped singing.
They're still singing. But summer is over, in a way. Within the last week, I've had a district-wide substitute teacher meeting and a Chinese School teachers meeting. I've had glimpses of the madness that will become of us. For the first time ever, there will be after school activities every day of the week, and my chauffeuring skills are about to get even more polished. Most significantly, the kiddos are back-to-school as of today.
Strangely, I've been very ambivalent about the start of school. For the first time in ten years, the house will be empty all day because both kiddos are in school full day now. I feel like I should be jumping for joy, but that lonesome buzz has also been tugging at me for the last few days. I had lunch with the kiddos yesterday at a pizza joint. Dear Son sat next to me at a booth with the side of his body completely flushed against mine. I wondered if he did that because the owner and I chatted about it being the last time I have lunch with them before school starts. So I held my tongue and didn't ask him to scooch over. Dear Daughter sat across from me, eating like a tween. Our feet brushed against each other's under the table from time to time, which invariably reminded me that her ten-year-old feet measured the exact same size as mine at the back-to-school shoe-shopping trip last week.
The days are slow, but the years fly.
And as my mind continues to ponder this conundrum, the Voices inside my head perpetuate:
I cannot believe I have to turn the morning alarm back on again!
But look at the house! There is more dust, mold, and soap scum than ever because of your almost non-existent cleaning schedule over the summer! Those toilets are filthy!
Yeah, yeah, I'll get to them, as soon as this post goes live. I have priorities, you know?! But I'm still not ready for summer to end...
When was the last time you had a decent, sane, and complete trip to the grocery store? Remember shopping and actually getting all the things you needed? Remember going out the door without having to lug water bottles, snacks, and kiddos?
Oh, yeah. I guess I can actually now bake in peace and have uninterrupted time to write/think/eat. I almost forgot what that feels like! But I'm still not ready for the cooler temps; our summers are so short!
Um, look on the bright side. Haven't you had enough mosquito bites?
Oh, right. I'm totally ready for winter.
Atta girl! Don't forget, if you're not subbing, you can even have coffee and lunch dates with your friends, kids-free!
Oh, that's right! Hit me up, friends!
So you're okay with this now? This end-of-summer, back-to-routine thing?
Seems like you've reeled in my heart pretty well there. I must face the facts. There's no turning back now, cuz this just happened:
So, Dear Reeling-It-In, there's no doubt that I'm sad all the fun is over, and that we must accept your mandatory pull. I'll try to be as compliant as possible and traipse back with the least amount of resistance. Now that there's no maaaa-maaaahhhhh every other minute of the day, I can actually just worry about me.
I won't even know what to do with myself with 7.5 hours of me-time to fill, said no one ever!