Summer is half way over, and I’m just now getting into the groove. Staying up a little later, waking up later, too. Letting things go slack, allowing everyone a little more space, more time, more freedom.
It’s like I’ve exhaled, finally, from the school-year before. And I realize how much stress I carry with me during those days. I know I spend much time thinking of my children, praying for them, hoping the best for them… obsessing maybe? Just a bit? “Well, if you keep THAT up (grades, behavior, practice schedules, grooming habits) you’re going to have a rough go of it.” At the time, it seems like the ‘right thing’ to do. I’m caring, involved, proactive. And stressed out.
Why do I now feel lighter, happier, like a huge weight has been lifted?
It’s not that I’m less busy! I’m driving and and cleaning and coordinating and working just as much. Am I that much less consumed by thoughts of my children’s achievements and future?
Do I really hold such a grip – the white knuckled kind – on everything when school is upon us? So much so that when I let it go, I’m almost different person?
Is that why we have summer vacation? Is it really for the moms?
I’ve been reading Anna Karenina this summer. It’s long, it’s intriguing, and it makes you both wince in distress and bounce with joy over various characters. And, if you know how it ends, which most people do, a part of you is just waiting to see how it all falls into place, and hoping that your book might contain the secret alternative ending that Tolstoy really intended.
As with others of Tolstoy’s writings, I am completely intrigued with his knowledge of the human heart. Where does he get this stuff? How does he KNOW? And it is his secondary characters who have won me over utterly.
I read this passage the other day, and… well… :
(The character Darya Alexandrovna, Anna’s sister-in-law, has taken a summer vacation to the countryside with her children; they are swimming at the river.)
“With six children Darya Alexandrovna could not be calm. One got sick, another might get sick, a third lacked something, a fourth showed signs of bad character, and so on, and so on. Rarely, rarely would there be short periods of calm…. But besides that, however painful the mother’s fear of illnesses, the illnesses themselves, and the distress at seeing signs of bad inclinations in her children, the children themselves repaid her griefs with small joys. These joys were so small that they could not be seen, like gold in the sand, and in her bad moments she saw only griefs, only sand; but there were also good moments, when she saw only joys, only gold.
Now, in her country solitude, she was more aware of these joys. Often, looking at them, she made every possible effort to convince herself that she was mistaken, that as a mother she was partial to her children; all the same, she could not but tell herself that she had lovely children, all six of them, each in a different way, but such as rarely happens – and she was happy in them and proud of them.” – Anna Karenina
Gold in the sand.
Is that why God has given me summer? For me to take the time to see that there IS gold in the sand? To stop analyzing – report cards, handwriting, study skills, music practice, sports, chores – and to just let be?
I was at the beach a few weeks ago, at sunset. Myself and the kids, walking on the sand toward the water, after a 5-hour drive. Still in their travel clothes, they begged to go see the water. They ran toward the foamy waves, rustling up bits of shells and more bits of seaweed, laughing and kicking water up onto each other, dresses and denim shorts getting soaked.
They are so beautiful, I thought.
Just as they are.
Shrugging my expectations off their shoulders like an old robe.
And I thought of dear Darya, looking for the gold in the sand, like she was walking just beside me.
And I realized,
There’s as much gold as we choose to see, Darya.
It could be all gold, if we let it.
“To touch all those plump little legs, pulling stockings on them, to take in her arms and dip those naked little bodies and hear joyful or frightened shrieks; to see the breathless faces of those splashing little cherubs, with their wild, frightened and merry eyes, was a great pleasure for her.”
Darya in the river with her children, Anna Karenina