I thought my eyes would be misty, writing this post. I had planned to write something about September, about the fading of one beautiful summer, about the chill in the air, about two of my three little boys growing up too fast, starting their own journeys into school. As happens with these sort of reflections, they almost always turn out not to be as expected.
For I am not sad. The air is not chilly, not yet, but just simply softer. There are snatches of sunlight slanting first thing in the morning, then again in the afternoon. I notice it filtering through the as yet ungilded leaves on to the flat pavements and it reminds me that we are lingering, still, between seasons but also ready for time to move along. Cardigans and jumpers have been washed, buttons sewn back onto heavy coats, wellies cleaned of caked-on mud, probably leftover from some romp through the woods. We don't need them yet though. We are waiting.
And I am not sad. When the time came to send my older team of two into school and nursery for the very first time, their backpacks as big as snail shells, it was not heartbreaking. I was surprised at this. I thought I'd be (whisper it - thought I was supposed to be) more upset. I thought I might cry. I didn't.
We sent them off with big smiles and cheery hugs; they came running out the same way hours later in the afternoon. My heart is full, but not overly wistful. I will admit I felt a leap of hesitation and a long ache for what may have been my hands-down favourite summer with my children yet, especially as our last days of the holidays slipped away, but mostly, I feel excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead. Because every year only gets better with them. This isn't rose-tinted. This is not to say we don't have our fair share of meltdowns and not being listened to. But the best bits - the chats, the walks, the way they are becoming their own people, with their own take on the world and their own big ideas - those bits, just get better and better.
Now, I am excited for my bigger boys. For the adventures they will have as they learn to escape into stories, learning to read and write. For the new friendships they will make. For their triumphs, big and small. For picking themselves up along the way when they stumble and trip and find things hard. For starting to grow up, just a tiny bit. I'm not wishing it happens too soon. I'm wishing them to get their moment, that's all.
With them being at school and nursery now, Autumn also means more time for me to delight in the company of my smallest baby who has both shared me and been shared with his siblings for all of his first year. And it also means more time for me to do just this, what I am doing right this moment, sitting quietly with tea at my desk, writing, while he sleeps.
And so, Autumn begins. We are ready now. The season of new starts, less frantic and more measured than the New Year. A time to tidy, to organise, to take stock (again). In Autumn, things come together. Fruits mellow. Leaves turn. It was in Autumn that we married, seven years ago now, starting our new life and setting up our own little home. In Autumn, we shake off the lethargy of a long hot summer. We make plans. We break in new shoes. How lucky are we, then, that we have another chance to start again?