A week or so ago, on one of the last, precious, nights of summer, my son and I re-watched the movie Toy Story while the girls slept upstairs and Mark was back in the city. Knowing that another summer was behind us, Luca was entering 5th grade, coupled with the inevitable chill in the air and overt recognition of time passing too quickly, I practically wept while watching and sensing the ache and rejection in Woody’s heart while he, inevitably, was being replaced by Buzz Lightyear as Andy’s favorite toy.
Maybe because turning 50 is really only a year and change away, or that Luca wanted to pick out all his own school clothes this year, and even my girls are revealing tidbits of maturation, this year’s back to school season hit harder. I can’t help but wonder if I’m entering the Autumn years of my life.
While the days can seem long, the years are short. And, watching kids grow up is like some sort of clock, forcing you to take stock as to where you fit in with all of their movement; questioning whether I am quietly slowing down. With the chaos that the twins bring, Luca’s homework, soccer and social schedule, I barely have a minute to think straight. But when I, finally, do get a quiet moment, it can be haunting.
There’s always something wistful about watching the days shorten and feeling the air become crisper. It’s a beautiful time of year on the East coast, but I’d gladly relish more time to breathe in the salty ocean air, soak up the warm sun and sand, and feel that unforgiving heat penetrate my skin, chasing the girls around the playground. The innocence and ease of long summer days, late dinners outside, fireflies and fireworks are abruptly replaced by brisk mornings at the bus stop, parent teacher meet and greets, and a never-ending string of frantic texts about homework, school projects, and soccer transportation.
As with every transition there comes reflection and lately I’ve been preoccupied with an assessment of my own “value” outside the home. Having just turned down a freelance opportunity that would pay me for my writing, I can’t help but feel slightly unsettled. I started freelance work when Luca was in school but since Laurel and Maxine came along, just don’t have the time. Being home with them is tremendously rewarding. But knowing I could earn a paycheck for writing, again, did provide a brief, if not fleeting, moment of pride too. Hopefully, when the time is right, something else will come along.
As the series progresses, Woody eventually makes his way back into Andy’s heart, only to get accidentally donated to daycare in the 3rd movie; instead of the intended destination of attic storage. When Woody and the gang manage to escape and find their way back, he does get chosen by Andy to go off to college; but we have no sense of what his future holds. Sequel or not, I guess that’s usually the case.