Well, here it is.
The last day of October. Officially fall.
I look out the window, see the orange and auburn leaves piling up on the ground, remember the condensation my warm breath cut through the frosty air on my way out the door this morning.
I feel myself let go of any hope I’d held onto for our “second summer.” (Living in Washington state, we often have rain through late June; but every once in a while, we enjoy a stretch of glorious warm and sunny weather into late September and early October—a second summer).
October is a month of transition. Warm to cool. Green to orange and then brown. Outdoor activity gives way to indoor gathering.
Today is Halloween. A transition in itself—human to fantasy—if only for a day.
For me, at least this year, Halloween feels anticlimactic. Kids in school, a 12-hour work day ahead. This morning, I woke to a new gray hair on the crest of my head, right near its natural part. It was a few inches long and standing straight up, like a lightning rod intent on reaching the sky. I’m always amazed how these things sprout, apparently out of nowhere, overnight. Thanks, Halloween. I’d prefer free candy.
I pad downstairs, in this quiet house—kids at school, husband asleep. I start the water boiling for coffee and open my phone to run through the “checks.” Check email, check the news, check social media. My attention is caught by today’s Facebook “memory.”
“Your most liked photo from 2010,” the heading announces. Two tiny faces stare back at me, my daughters—nearly a decade ago—on Halloween. A five-year-old dressed as a southern belle, complete with tiara and white gloves. A not quite three-year-old in a full-body, hooded Dalmatian costume. If their eyes could speak, they’d tell you how overjoyed they were to be slipping from normal life into fantasy—so pleased to be, instead of two suburban preschoolers, a princess and dog for a day.
It strikes me that just as summer transitions into fall, which will eventually give way to winter, so am I transitioning.
My babies are gone. I would say they don’t need me, because on the lonely days I feel that.
I know it’s not true. Their needs have shifted. Now they need me because I drive them places, feed them, finance their social and athletic activities, wash their sports bras and dirty socks.
I think again of that photo. I press my memory to go back. If I get quiet enough, I can still feel the way the padded Dalmatian costume squished in my arms as I lifted my small girl while trick-or-treating. I remember how I carried her from house to house because her older sister preferred to run and was frustrated by the slow pace she kept. I remember the innocence and thrill of that age, the delight to discover you could knock on a neighbor’s door and be offered candy!
Tonight will be different. Each daughter made independent plans to dress up and trick-or-treat with friends. I will be at work all evening, won’t even see them in their costumes or get to steal “tax” from their candy stash. The memory I will take away this year is my eldest, Jazmyn, smiling so confidently at me this morning. Her bright eyes filled my heart and sliced through it all at once, “Mom, I’m almost an adult.” She feels the transition too.
Ten years can pass by when you’re not even looking. I venture to wonder who we’ll be, where we’ll be 10 years from now. So long as fate smiles on me, I will be 50 (with substantially more unruly gray hairs). My daughters will be 24 and 21—adult women, with their own dreams and lives set in motion. I stop there, before I get too far down that road. I don’t want to know.
Deep breath. Sip of coffee. This moment is all we have—and it’s perfect.