My favorite season is fall. Fall is football, hayrides, and War Eagle. It’s candles in pumpkins, a yellow harvest moon. Crisp mornings and cool nights. It’s Harper’s birthday, deer jerky, and Thanksgiving. It is waking up to scenes like this picture, to mountainsides ablaze with vibrant color.  But it’s also darkness by 6:00. A prelude to winter, to bitter cold, to the death of many beautiful things.

This fall has presented an unusual array of chances for me to ponder the transience of life. I see it in Adelaide’s long legs, feel it in Stella’s first loose tooth, hear it in the deep voice of my son. Perhaps it is nowhere more apparent than in the mailbox, however, where my high school junior receives daily requests to visit far-flung colleges and universities.

And visit we have. Each time there’s excitement mixed with trepidation. I find myself in a love-hate relationship with these places that promise so much opportunity, fun, and growth for my child. So much opportunity, fun, and growth that will happen away from home. Away from me. She gets stars in her eyes perusing brochures from Princeton while I extol the virtues of Arkansas Tech, just an hour away. It’s a great school. I teach there. My brilliant friends teach there. Plus, they’ll pay her a stipend. (Plus, Whattaburger!)

I never planned for this season of life. I planned for “happy golden years” like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’m the girl who made lists of her kids’s names in the fifth grade. Who had trouble figuring out what I wanted to do do as a career because all I knew for sure I wanted to be, ever, was a mom. I like to think I hold my kids loosely, give them wings to fly, teach them to be independent. But I’m finding that’s all easier in the context of the cozy nest. Just when it’s becoming clear Grace is ready to launch, it’s becoming painfully obvious I’m not ready to launch her. I doubt I ever will be. But I’d never hold her back, even if I could.

 

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

 

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