Facing The Tidal Wave Of A New School Year


I feel as though I’m standing on a beach looking out at the Atlantic Ocean. The sun is actively burning above but the crisp sea breeze is keeping my skin cool. My feet are turning pink, and tingling as the cold tide washes over them, lodging pebbles and small stones in between my toes as the water is pulled back in preparation for the next rush of water.

Yet I can see it in the distance. That giant wave. With my name on it. And it’s heavily loaded down and seems ready to knock me down, wash over me like the deceivingly gentle tide waters are doing to my feet.

Even from where I’m standing in relative safety, I can see what the oversized wave is carrying along with it and will soon be dumping on top of my head:

  • E-mails about youth hockey practices starting this week and the news that the first game of the season starts at 6 a.m. on, of all days, September 11.


  • Reminders from my 10-year-old hockey player about gear that’s worn out or that he’s outgrown.


  • As yet unsent e-mails from my children’s soccer coaches about practices for my twin seventh graders (who’ll be on different teams) and subsequent game schedules that’ll likely take my husband and me all over eastern Massachusetts during the weekends, through November.


  • Early morning/before school band practices for both of my sons – is the youngest really going to keep playing in the percussion section like his big brother? He seems to have more fun when he noodles around on the piano…


  • The accelerated evening math classes that my eldest son has been taking . . . should he keep taking them? How will the class schedule mesh with everything else?


  • How many church services that will we have to miss as a family because of hockey games, and will I be able to schedule my Sunday school teaching slots (I’m slated to help out and teach my youngest son’s class) around all the absences?


  • My daughter wants to start reffing soccer games (it pays decently enough) and she’s signed up for an eight-hour referee course, but how soon will we learn her schedule, and will my husband or I be able to get her to those games?


I look at that wave, cognizant of the fact that it’s not quite as jam-packed as the ones bearing down on some other families in my town whose children each play multiple sports or on multiple teams per season. But coupled with my writing work, my husband’s work and my desire – intense craving really – for the downtime to afford me the ability to take in and fully appreciate the New England fall foliage, to bake an apple crisp just for fun from apples my family picks at a local orchard and to read the dead tree Sunday newspapers that I get delivered to my home, perhaps even a book, and that far off wave seems ominous, like it could easily consume me, no matter how many calendars I create in an attempt to be somewhat organized and how many life vests I strap onto my back.

But for now, in the waning days of summer, when the kids and I still visit the pool for no reason other than for recreation’s sake, when we watch stupid movies together, take our dog Max for a walk around our neighborhood and sit around and read books on our backyard deck in a spot of shade, I’m going to pretend as though I don’t notice that wave (even though the first hockey practice is tonight). Instead, I’m going to admire the shells, take in the clean air and breathe deeply. I’m gonna need all the breath I can get later.



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