For years the month of May has had it’s hold on me like no other month. In fact, it’s frantic pace has earned it the “busiest month” superlative for a good part of our family life. Field days and field trips, talent shows, concerts and end-of-the-year school parties turned into confirmations and proms, commencements, and graduation parties. The college years brought the shuffling of stuff. Who was moving where and when? Dorm rooms were emptied, bedrooms were filled up again. And always, the garage out back was filled with the overflow of their lives. Summer study abroad trips were planned, college summer jobs were found and started. Family birthdays, Mother’s Day, flowers and vegetables to plant, spring cleaning and all those tasks of opening up a life to the summer months were squeezed into the already full days of May and somehow accomplished year after year. Even so, I never felt as if I had the upper hand with May. May….it called the shots every year.
Until this year when all of a sudden May gave me back the control. And of course, because this is the way life goes….I miss the old kind of May. I miss the tearful goodbyes, the sighs of relief and the excitement about moving up a grade, the shopping for prom dresses and ordering of corsages, the celebrations on the lawn outside the commencement venue and in the backyards of the graduates. I miss the excitement and trepidation of a child moving home for the summer, the school friends re-united around the firepit, the too-full house, the filled-to-the-brim days.
Time has a way of softening the edges and helps us forget the stress of those years when children are doing the business of growing up. I only have to look back in my journals to know that while I was living it, I often felt totally in over my head in the month of May. The nonstop blur of activity and feeding of hungry people, the constant comings and goings, the worry over young drivers taking the wheel, the push and pull of older teenagers becoming young adults, the call from overseas that started with “Mom, I’m ok but….” Truth be told, May often beat me up. But sitting here on the other side of those chaos-filled years, during an unusually cold and wet May, I look at a calendar that is more empty than it is full, and I feel nostalgic about all that May used to throw at me.
If I had the choice though, I probably wouldn’t go back. There are things about this life I’m living now that I wouldn’t want to trade away. The mornings that often start with a cup of tea and the time to write, evenings that aren’t held hostage by chauffeuring children here, there and everywhere, the satisfying view from here as I watch all three of my children create their own life stories, the promise and absolute delight of an infant grandson figuring out his world bit by bit.
My favorite saying as they were all growing up and moving through the childhood years was “This too shall pass.” It helped me through the days that were just too much and gave me the gentle reminder to pause and take in the beautiful yet fleeting moments of family life. But this, THIS too shall pass: these days of being older but not too old, of feeling perhaps a bit achy but not yet broken. In another twenty years I will most likely look back on this kind of May with nostalgia and longing. And so I remind myself that this May, with it’s sometimes too quiet days and slower pace is a season to savor and lean in to before it is simply another season that has come and gone.