The heat from the summer sun is diminishing in strength. It’s a little chillier, a little earlier in the day. I apply sun cream in the morning, and light the fire in the evening. Autumn is tapping it’s feet in impatience and the air, promising to bluster the dying blossoms away, is also, as Nora Ephron beautifully wrote, scented by the ” bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.”
Change is chomping at the bit as we prepare to swap summer for school, and the feeling of newness is as crisp as the white blouses I bought in three different sizes yesterday.
You see, it’s not just the season that is changing. My whole life is. As the school bells ring out on Tuesday morning, they ring in a new phase of my life. For ten years I have had a baby or small child at home. But today I laid out a uniform for my last baby, and for the first time I labelled three schoolbags as they excitedly packed their pencil cases. All my babies are now schoolgirls.
I will have no childminder now, and can hopefully just work when they are in school, and sit at the table with them as they all do homework, no longer trying to entertain one, while trying to encourage the others to finish their sums. It is a nostalgic time, but then my baby has been shredding her baby ways for a while. A couple of days ago, I pushed her off as she wibbled and wobbled and wavered and (after crashing into a couple of trees) pedalled off for the first time without stabilisers on her bike. She can wipe her own bum now too. A whole new phase of life.
All my life I have wished to be a writer. Words are my wisdom and my comfort. And slowly a dream began to become a little reality as I strived to build writing into my every day as a hobby and a job. Tomorrow I submit my manuscript for a book that will be published early next year. I met with my publisher recently and we talked about publicity and interviews and book covers and launches, and the little girl dreamer in me shimmied a skip of shock (the big girl author in me had a bit more decorum). My wish has come true. I have another book idea already bubbling into a bundle of thoughts that are already looking like a contents page. A whole new phase of life.
Even this blog has changed. Seven months after my marriage ended, I have finally amended the Sandwich Years banner head to now better represent my situation (still to size it and put it up). It took a long time and a deep breath to ask my illustrator to take out my husband from the banner that represented my blog but also my life. It looked so brutal when I first saw it, and it hurt so much it took that deep breath away completely. But it has to be done, like so many parts of separating, eventually each bit just has to be done. In a week or so we sign the separation agreement and both move on to lives without each other. But I like it too. It’s a privelege to be sandwiched by those wonderful people and creatures. A whole new phase of life.
But the biggest change is in me. I am changing my passport and my driving licence, but it more than reclaiming my name. I am back to me but have gathered three glorious gifts on the way, and a lot of lessons. I am back to me, but a better me: less selfish and a more self-focussed; scarred but strengthened; battered but not beaten; stripped and stretched but more layered and filled out; poorer but richer; alone but alive; uncertain but aware; hurt but happier.
For many years – sandwiched in a storm of responsibility caring for my husband’s needs, my parent’s needs, my children’s needs, house and home and work needs – I lost track of who I was. But I feel I am closing a door on all that confusion. I’ll take a rucksack filled with the goodness of that time, and leave the debris of destruction on the floor. As the yellow summer sun does a dazzling dance with the golden Autumn glow before drifting away for another year, I am stepping through another door into a whole new phase of my life.
I like the look of the one I am opening. I am a daughter still, a mother always, a friend to amazing people, a business woman, a creative consultant, an author. But rising above all of those I am me.
It is all change. Parts of that change are painful, but necessary. Parts of that change are frightening but worth it. Parts of that change are exciting, and bursting with opportunity. Part of it is about letting go, and a part of it is about grasping new things. It’s a bittersweet mix but I’m ready… A whole new phase of life.