Frederick’s Advice for September Blues

Frederick-sunSeptember is like being shot out of a cannon.

Or maybe it’s like being born, shot out of the womb, from cozy, watery comfort to the bright, noisy light of back-to-school, chilly mornings.

Or maybe it’s like somebody dumping ice water down your back, or lifting you out of bed and placing you on a cold toilet seat, which is how Aviva started her first day of school.

I’ve written about it before – the inexplicable depression that can settle over me despite some of the season’s most spectacular weather.

It’s the season of kavanah, a word that comes from the Hebrew root meaning” to direct, intend, focus.”

Today, Aviva did not want to go to school, her second day of first grade. Her throat hurt. Her tummy hurt. She was tired. There was no getting her off the couch, out from under the worn white comforter.

I determined to be “firm and kind,” in Parenting on Track speak. Stay available to her. Not go down the slippery slope. And also totally prepared for her to go to school in her pj’s.

Sweet girl, who pushes me away. Sweet girl, who climbs in my lap at the baseball game, wolfing down her second hot dog, on top of the world. Sweet girl, who misses her kindergarten teacher but couldn’t possible express that in words. Sweet girl, who either fiercely needs me or fiercely rejects me.

It is all too tempting to get snarky. So easy to give in to impatience. Nearly impossible not to have waves of  melancholy this time of year with its shifting rhythms. Loss is in the air this time of year. The anniversary of my Aunt Nancy’s death. Windows closing. Digging for winter gear. That annual sense of going inward, preparing.

You know the Leo Lionni book about Frederick the mouse? While all of the other mice are industriously getting ready for winter, collecting food and wood, the poet Frederick is collecting colors and words and dreams to sustain his friends through the long, cold, dark winter.

Sometimes I feel like Frederick. Like everyone else is busy working while I am collecting words, or dreaming, or puttering. Yesterday I felt positively homesick, like all I wanted to do was hang out with my sisters, sit in my mom’s kitchen on the heater. Go back, back, back home. Back to being taken care of. Back into the womb, thank you very much.

It is beautiful out. Weird to say this, but it’s like 9/11 weather – remember how gorgeous a morning that was? Crisp and clear.

September. It’s like PMS. Every month, it happens. And every month, I forget it happens and am blindsided by it.

I spent the last couple of weeks bellyaching about the lack of structure. WHEN DOES AVIVA GO BACK TO SCHOOL??? I bellowed on Facebook to anyone who would listen. And here we are, there she is.  Once again, I am reminded to let each day be what it is, filled with ocean waves enough to rock anyone’s boat.

And then, if I’m very still, I hear Frederick the poet-mouse whispering this advice: Go outside. Do it now, while the sun is shining and strong. Collect it in tincans and buckets, on slate and stone. Let it soak into your skin, carry it deep in your bones. It will sustain you.

5 thoughts on “Frederick’s Advice for September Blues

  1. Lisa Madden says:

    Very VERY good description of the September blues. And I like Freddie’s advice too; it reminds me of a book I read as a child where the children put all of the snowballs that they could into the freezer so that they could capture winter.

    When I was school-aged, when I saw the first leaves start to change, I would feel utter panic. Our idyllic lives of summer were ending. NO! And I still feel this way, even though I am always very anxious for the kids to get back to school so I can reclaim some precious alone time!

    Many who live in the Northeast claim that they love the change of seasons. I too felt that way until they started changing too fast and molding themselves into a new reality: barely existent springs followed by brutally short summers then skipping quickly through fall into the 11 months of winter.

    Seriously!

    Like

  2. larissa says:

    Wake Me Up When September Ends, Green Day

    summer has come and passed
    The innocent can never last
    wake me up when September ends

    like my father’s come to pass
    seven years has gone so fast
    wake me up when September ends

    here comes the rain again
    falling from the stars
    drenched in my pain again
    becoming who we are

    as my memory rests
    but never forgets what I lost
    wake me up when September ends

    summer has come and passed
    the innocent can never last
    wake me up when September ends

    ring out the bells again
    like we did when spring began
    wake me up when September ends

    here comes the rain again
    falling from the stars
    drenched in my pain again
    becoming who we are

    as my memory rests
    but never forgets what I lost
    wake me up when September ends

    Summer has come and passed
    The innocent can never last
    wake me up when September ends

    like my father’s come to pass
    twenty years has gone so fast
    wake me up when September ends
    wake me up when September ends
    wake me up when September ends

    Like

  3. Laurie says:

    I love to read your words, Jena!
    Yes, the movement of the Sun from Leo (the Lion) into Virgo is a difficult transition for many of us.
    The insistent structure comes on while we are not quite done playing!
    Thank you, again.

    Like

  4. Jenna/The Word Cellar says:

    I know well that feeling of wanting to go back to being taken care of. Sometimes I imagine being small enough to curl up in my mom’s lap again. Sometimes I imagine lying in the palm of God, but I don’t even know exactly what that means, so my mom’s old lap is usually easier to imagine. Sometimes I think I need more girl friends here around me, in my physical space, ones who will stroke my hair and hold my hand. Husbands are good for that too, but it’s different somehow. If you were here, I’d make you tea and your favorite baked good and tell you not to worry about a thing.

    Like

  5. Lucille says:

    Oh dear, my little boy started first grade this year too. I didn’t expect him to resist it so much. I thought after this full wonderful summer, he’d be anxious to see his friends and to start something new…and he WAS…and yet, every night he mantra’s “I don’t want to go to school, I don’t like first grade, I wish I didn’t have to go to school, I wish I was 4 again”. But when he comes out of school, he is happy and has a smile on his face and tells me stories. I guess these little people are just like us, with the pull and tug, the vascillation…but can’t communicate it better than wanting to stay in bed a little longer, or whine about having to get dressed, etc…

    And about September melancholy? Yikes. In my 20’s and 30’s, I used to get this way in January. Now I feel this way all the time!!

    Like

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