Yesterday, I ushered my two boys to their teachers at the same school—one to kindergarten, the other to 5th grade–an event that will happen only once in their lives, given their age difference. A wonderful convergence in their lives. And for me, too, since it is also my send off.
Six years ago, six months pregnant, I left my life as a freelancer and part time creative writing teacher and began my university job. Everything suddenly sped up: I had a second car, a second child on the way, and a second contracted young adult novel, along with a nonfiction book and adult novel already underway. Thus began the busiest, most crammed, overloaded six years of my life. There were classes to teach, seminars to attend, essays and chapters and reports to write, trips to make, stroller and Leggo in tow, and of course, those nagging flyers to take out of the backpacks, baseball games to watch, birthday parties to shuttle to. So it seems appropriate, at the very exact moment when the almost-six year old is waved off, I can take a breather.
As of this week, I will be on sabbatical for a year, finishing up one manuscript, and starting on a new project. (Under wraps for now) Originally when the possibility of a sabbatical loomed we had considered living overseas. Isn’t that what it’s for—a grand adventure, on another continent? I had everything picked out—even the school for the children.
In the end, I realized I simply wanted to be in my own life more fully. To see my children more, when they both tumble off the bus. To practice piano with the 10-year old and take him to the Met in the afternoons, or for strolls in my favorite spots in the city. To be with the 6 year-old as he heads into the momentous land of reading. To take the train in a few days a week to write, and take a break visiting my old haunts again, checking out readings and exhibits, enjoying leisurely conversations with friends who too easily get squeezed out. In the meantime, my husband, who has been our resident writer-publisher-editor, is fast putting on his tie and crisp shirt, and heading off to teach as a university professor, for his new position at Rutgers.
The house settles. The balmy air rustles. A few more paragraphs need rearranging. The children do streak off the bus, but the six-year old is in tears.
Turns out, he’d gotten on the wrong bus and it was only when his brother, proudly wearing his yellow safety patrol belt, went in search of him, that they found him and brought him to the correct place. He ran into our arms, sobbing, trembling hard. Not a good start.
But the next morning he was off to the bus stop with his brother, backpack jostling on his shoulders. Gone before I even downed my coffee.
This afternoon I entertain ambitions to take the children to Rosh Hashana services–for once we planned enough to have tickets. I suspect, at most, we will dip our slices of apple in honey, chat about Pokeman and new teachers. We’ll see what the next day brings. And for me, what this next year holds.