August 30, 2008

Grounds for Sculpture...and Gratitude

Oh, let me get the cliche out first.

Well, summer is coming to a close. There is fall in the air, a certain crispness - sometimes this August is downright chilly! The kids are itching to go back to school. (That should read I'm itching for the kids to go back to school, but my former homeschool ways forbid me to say a thing like that, so I'll think it quietly to myself.) Soccer practice is in full swing. There are various piles of new school clothes sitting around the house, groovy t-shirts, wild sneakers, skinny jeans - lots of skinny jeans. And lots of cool sneakers that are supposed to have been saved for school, but are dirty already - hey, that's life with boys and I love it. I'm learning to love it. I'm supposed to say I love it. Naw, I'm kidding, I do I do I do. Who wouldn't?

Luke went to 6th grade orientation and got his schedule and learned to open his locker. As a matter of fact, he actually fits in his locker and since his friend Mike's is even bigger he fits better in that. Good to know. The nurse told us parents at our orientation the night before, "Your kids come in sweet in 6th grade and leave not so sweet in 8th - and it's not our fault." Also interesting. By the end of that "informative" hour I was longing for next summer. I was the third one out the front doors, behind Joanne and Brenda who, having housefuls of older children, were pretty well versed in issues like changing for gym and color-coding notebooks and texts.

Seth, entering his junior year, was asked to be a guide for freshman orientation and a mentor to two freshman boys. His guidance counselor told me when I called to change him from Honors Spanish to "regular," (at Seth's request) "Aw, but he's such a great kid..." Yeah, but that doesn't mean he speaks much Spanish, I wanted to say. Seth was honored to be asked to guide, and then something even better happened that afternoon. His team voted him to be one of the varsity team captains. The only junior with three seniors. He got in the car and beamed from ear to ear, saying that he couldn't believe that many people voted for him. I could believe it, naturally, being his mother and all. Plus, I'd seen him turn around on the dirt road to the back soccer field and walk back to take the other side of the water cooler when he noticed the small freshman boy trying his best to lug it down the road by himself. My heart swelled. I remember when Seth was that freshman always lugging the water and now I see he remembers it too.

I am looking forward to the school year even after all that complaining last spring: Stop the school year, I want to get off! Well, it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind and while I wouldn't mind having a few extra weeks of summer to enjoy: Start the school year, I vant to be alone! I want to straighten the house and have it remain so for a good handful of hours. That will be my first delight. I want to sit down to write on the computer without hearing SpongeBob in the background. I want to call my friend and say "Let's do lunch!" I am even keeping my eyes open for a job. I do have a soon-to-be-college age son so this may soon be on the agenda.

I've had it all. I've had kids home and close for years upon years and kids at school while others were home and starting next week I'll be home alone. I've been super blessed in the homeschooling & stay-at-home-mothering department, I'm looking forward to the next stage too whatever that turns out to be. I've been feeling bursting gratitude to the Lord for these things and for the relief we've been feeling from this long bout with depression and anxiety. Both of us, Seth and me. He's doing so well and it is so wonderful to have him back with us. These years are tough enough without having to battle a dark disease confused and alone.

This has really got me thinking about medication for well, the brain. I had no experience with this or with diagnosed conditions such as this so I feared it and thought it was a cop out. One day of Seth and myself being on an antidepressant showed me that there was an imbalance, a chemical, cellular, whatever imbalance and I shouldn't look at that any different that a thyroid imbalance or an insulin imbalance or a potassium imbalance. Another one of those slap your forehead moments, especially when I looked at my family history through new eyes. Someone said to me that God is the healer of depression. Yes, God is the healer of everything. Depression, cancer, muscular dystrophy, grief, war, sin, the earth. Yes.

A few days ago I took the kids to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey. (Please click the link and explore the collection - it is an awesome place.) I forgot my camera. I was bummed when I realized that because it would have made an awesome blog post! Absolutely beautiful gardens chock full of sculptures at every turn, hiding in a stand of bamboo, snuggled in next to a waterfall, layed out on the beach of a lake, under a Japanese Horsechestnut tree. We had a lovely afternoon exploring. Sean stayed 90 steps ahead of us, calling us onward through trellises and tunnels, around bends and over grassy hills. I regret not being able to show you, maybe next time, but I realized that without my camera I was so much more present with my boys. I watched them bang on one sculpture made for musical banging of big plates of metal and small bells not through a lens, but with my whole heart. Three boys with rubber mallets dancing around a giant instrument playing the artful tunes of their selves. Sean doing somersaults on a grass stage while Luke and I sat on chunky benches of granite clapping. Seth looking through a naked pregnant woman's belly into the garden behind her. Luke calling me into a stand of bamboo, pointing with wonder at the zigzaging growth of the rough green stems.

Instead of being the capturer, I was captured. And so grateful.

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