[This really should have been four separate posts. Bear with me.]
It is the season of self doubt.
By the time the heat has gone, and the pumpkins have been carved, and the days have shortened enough to have candles at dinner, things will bet settled. I will have reached an even keel, a rhythm to this hurry-up, task-filled life. And I will be okay.
But between now and then, it is the season of self-doubt. Where every decision I make, and every decision I have ever made, must be hashed, and rehashed, questioned, and requestioned, cried about, and yes, recried about. I worry that I'm not doing enough and, simultaneously, that I'm doing too much. I wonder if my kids are in the right place, if I'm in the right place, if there is a right place. I fret over our time--the time apart, the limited time together, the time I can't get back. And on and on. It's a whole thing.
Last week, after a particularly hard day, Ethan started sobbing halfway through his piano lesson. His teacher looked over at me, alarmed, looking for reassurance or answers, only to find that I was crying too.
Things are truly desperate.
Last night I came home from a Relief Society meeting to find David just starting on the dishes. I said, "How did things go?"
"Fine," he said, completely unconvincingly.
"What do you mean?"
And then he told me. There were kids to pick up. There was dinner to put on. There were three people who needed help with their math. And in the middle of it, four calls from the hospital. "It was crazy," he concluded.
I smiled. "Welcome to my world," I didn't say.
But later, in bed, he told me how Caleb had asked a girl on a date. For the first time. And how he had overheard the whole thing. I asked for every detail, the play-by-play, which David is so good at. (I would have married him just for his conversation play-by-plays. They are that good.) I laughed and curled my toes and sighed in all the right parts. And then we sat there marveling about how our boy had grown up and was now living his own life. Just like that.
And that is the thing about the season of self-doubt. You feel a little like Charles Dickens is writing your life story. It is the best of times and the worst of times, all at once. Right in the middle of all the hustling horror, there are these glimmers of glory that remind you that this is the way it has to be in order for your kids to grow up and grow out and live their own lives. And that, really, there is no other way.
Because last week amid the hustle and the tears, there was also a birthday party for Savannah. Somehow she turned thirteen. All by herself. And we sang and I even figured out how to bake a cake and she made a wish and blew out all the candles. And as much as a part of me sat there wishing she was still a chubby little four-year-old standing in front of me as I curl her bob and tie her pigtails, I wouldn't have taken a single candle off that cake. She is beautiful and strong and smart and good. She gave the lesson in her young women's class on Sunday and absolutely refused our help. I asked for the highlights afterwards and was nothing but amazed at her testimony and her ability to create connections between the principles she taught and the experiences of her own life. I just sat there at the dinner table stunned and a little awed.
Also last week, I took Caleb to the DMV and after about four hours and four thousand fervent prayers (on my part), he emerged with his license and a new sense of independence. On Friday, when I was throwing a part for Savannah, he picked up his friend and drove to another friend's house and didn't even say goodbye. I was, again, a little stunned.
It is a strange place here in the season of self-doubt. Horrible. Painful. Exhausting. And yet. Sweet in ways I cannot say. Thrilling. Stunning. And a little awe inspiring. And I am getting through one day at a time.
And now, for the black eye. Last week, amid everything else, we also participated in our ward's variety show. It's not a great recording, heavy on the piano, but proof anyway, that we know how to have a good time even in the worst of times. Here is Black-Eyed Beethoven: