Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Farewell to the Dog Days of Summer

“August…. Die she must…”  These are lyrics from a Simon and Garfunkel song that have long been embedded in my brain…

August has always been a bittersweet month for me.  Growing up,  August meant that although there were a few weeks of freedom left, the specter of school had returned.  Summer was when I could roam the woods and explore the streams, swim and fish at will… school represented a loss of that freedom.  Even as a parent of young children myself, I never understood the moms who were glad when school started up again.  I know my experience as a working mom was different than my stay at home friends, and I respected without judgment those differences.  For me, when my kids were school age, summer was an escape from so very structured schedules.  Sure, they had their day camps to go to while I worked, but when we came home, there was no homework, no backpacks full of school notices to clean out and go through.  Sure, there were wet bathing suits and sandy towels, but what’s a deck for anyways?  Happy, sun kissed kids.  And did I say, no homework?

August brought on the prospect of another dirty word:  “back to school shopping”.  Yuck.  That has been something that didn’t end with high school.  Shopping to send a kid to a dorm?  Ouch.  And then the textbooks….

We created the expectation with our kids that while we would pay for tuition and board, they needed to pay for books and other expenses.  My son was very successful at this; his younger sister, halfway through, does her best but needs an occasional “bailout”.  Both kids moved off campus after their sophomore year, which we welcomed as an expense reduction for us….  And this was the summer that my daughter did not come home.  She had the opportunity to join a couple of friends on a rental in June; the location was ideal and the rent was good. So.   Except for a few fun family gatherings, it’s been a childless summer.

The rhythm of this summer, this month of August in particular, has been very different.  My human kids are in good places in their lives; I don’t worry about them.  I am glad to hear from them; they both are doing well, but, I’m not exactly pining for them.  Does that sound awful?

I have my relatively new position, which is going well, but represents full days.  And when I come home from work, after exercising the pups, my husband and I have been enjoying sitting out on our backyard deck.  The pups play in their fenced area, I pick a few veggies, he smokes a cigar and barbeques supper….. Life has peacefully flowed like that lazy river we boated on in July.

And there were my doggie enjoyments as well.  Two nights a week, we had the opportunity to attend agility run throughs at our trainer’s backyard.  Other evenings, we opted for a romp on the beach.  We have to observe the local ordinances for going to the beach with the dogs, and we pretty much forget it during June and July.  But in August, the crowds thin out considerably during the after work hours.  The pups so love to run, run, run on the beach!  So August represented our return to the beach, during the allotted hours.

It’s been a peaceful month, even if it’s not been totally sunshine.  We still struggle from recovering from my husband’s layoff in 2009.  He’s one of the lucky ones – he found a new job – but we’re still in the process of repairing the damage.  It’s a miracle that we were able to keep our daughter in school.  It took me working two jobs for awhile, and freelancing at a number of things.  I’m down to 1 ¼ job now, have no regrets about what I had to do.  But this summer we’ve had to take on additional financial responsibility for my mother in law.  Basically, she’s out of money.  So we pay her rent too.  Initially, another family member had pledged to equally share this responsibility with us, but they have now reneged.  So.  We have chosen, to date, not to make a family feud about this.  Which means, we get to deal with this on top of everything else.

MIL is  eligible for several assistance programs, and she’s successfully filled out that paperwork for those programs by herself in the past.  This year, things are overwhelming her a bit.  So I took on that paperwork for her.  Once I did, it was like, no wonder she was confused!  It was complicated paperwork, and took me some time to figure out.  But figure it out I did.

So it’s been a different August this year.  With everything I’ve been doing with my pups, helping my MIL, enjoying some down time with my hubby, and oh yeah, working!  I struggled with finding time for a daily spiritual practice.  But I created a new altar this summer – in one of the kids vacated rooms – and if I do nothing else, I light a candle there after work, with a brief reflection on the day, thanksgiving, or request for help.  It’s a tall votive candle, safe to leave burning till I go to bed.

This August, I have felt – blessed.  It has been a calm and peaceful month.  I have some big financial obligations – but – the resources have been there.  I know this might be a trite saying, but “the universe has provided”.   My husband’s sales skyrocketed just when we needed the extra resources.  We were able to provide for everyone in our family without a stressful scramble.

But it’s more than that.  I have this feeling of being cared for.  Despite my lack of time for meditation or formal observances,  I have this sense that there are forces looking out for me, working on my behalf.  There is a reason everything has worked out so well.  Thank you to all the deities in my personal pantheon.  I am grateful for your positive energies and influences.

I got the wakeup call today that summer is officially over.  My daughter had paid her utility bills, bought her books for the fall semester, but now her bank account was dangerously low, could I tide her over?   Of course I can, especially since she’ll need to come home to collect!  I’ll gladly pay the love forward.

Even though September nears, thank you August, for a peaceful month.

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