In just a little over a week, my summer will be over. Yup. It's that time again. I haven't accomplished everything I set out to do, but that's okay. I am pretty sure the attic will still be there when the motivation to clean it finally strikes.
This time of year always brings with it a strange mixture of emotions: dread of having to get back in to the routine, and the excitement of a new school year. If you count the years I was attending school, this will be about my 37th first day of school. Just a few more years and I've promised myself I will drive down there on the first day simply for the pleasure of watching before driving myself home to bask in retirement.
At our house the beginning of the school year has always signaled a particular ritual. Erin and I would make ourselves wait until about two weeks before school started before we would go school supply shopping! Of all the things she could have inherited from me, I think the love of office supplies is probably the most unique. We could spend hours strolling the school supply aisle at Target, ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over all the cool stuff. Even though I tell myself every year that I'm not going to, I always end up buying a few things for my classroom. I think somewhere deep inside me is an elementary teacher - but just the part that likes cutesy teacher stuff. I have already been by my classroom and dropped off two separate piles of index cards, bookmarks, markers, pens, and all kinds of neat things. It seems whenever a kid at school needs something he knows to come to me and I will probably have it. I'm particularly popular around homecoming. There's probably something a bit wrong about a woman my age having as large a stack of coloring books as I do. But they make great bulletin board patterns! That excuse might work if I actually put up more than three bulletin boards a year. If the urge ever strikes me, though, I'm prepared!
I didn't get to take Erin school supply shopping this year. She's still enrolled but will be taking all of her courses online. Since her move to Wisconsin there have been any number of little things like this that I miss. Even though she hasn't really lived here for two years, I still catch myself listening for her upstairs. Or, I'll think of something funny and want to share it with her. I don't know how mothers who didn't have texting did it! She and I probably actually have more conversations now than we did when she lived here. Hopefully I'll get to visit her in October for a weekend and get to hear her sweet voice in person. I sound as if I haven't seen her in months when that is actually not the case. She came home Fourth of July weekend to be in a friend's wedding. I picked her up in Birmingham so we had the ride home to talk. I have been very good about not pestering her about when she'll get to come home again. With her classes about to start, and with her being deep into wedding planning it may be a while. She and I have already talked about the probability of her missing either Thanksgiving or Christmas with us. It is only fair that T.J.'s family gets to see them on holidays, too. I am determined not to be the kind of mother-in-law that shares but makes sure everyone else is aware of the sacrifice. That's not to say that the first Christmas morning that I wake up and she's not here will not be hard. But it won't be any easier for his mother when it's our turn.
Erin did get to do a little school supply shopping this year. When T.J.'s mother and sisters visited a couple of weeks ago, Erin did a little office supply scouting with them. I talked to her not long after and she was laughing about how strange it was to do that and not to be loading up on cool stuff of her own. She really likes her sisters-in-law-to-be. One is old enough to really be a friend and the other is young enough to spoil. She also really likes T.J.'s mom. It's nice to know that her new family love her as much as we do.
Erin and T.J. have a new addition to their family: a miniature schnauzer named Trixie. I'm going to have to have a serious conversation with T.J. Although I know he loves dogs, too, I think he caved pretty easily on the puppy issue. I'm not sure it would matter what she asked for. If he thought whatever it was would make her happy he would try to provide it. A girl could get used to that!
It's only eight months and two days until Erin's wedding. Her dress is bought, altered, and hanging in the guest room with her veil. Save-the-Dates and invitations have been ordered and delivered. Erin is working on addressing envelopes. The DJ and photographer have been hired and contracts signed. Wedding favors are here and stored with her dress. Hotel reservations have been made for us and her for a couple of nights before as well as the wedding suite for her and T.J. the night of their wedding. Blocks of rooms have been reserved for out-of-town guests. I think all we have left to do that I will need to be in on is flowers and a cake. The wedding planning hasn't been nearly the trouble I anticipated. With her in Wisconsin, me in Alabama, and the wedding in Birmingham I was dreading the logistics of the process. She has really made the process pretty simple. She's still working on a bridesmaids' gift idea but I don't think that's going to be any trouble at all. All in all I'm feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Ask me again the second week of April!
This school year marks yet another beginning. There have been lots of them in my life, many of them incredibly similar. I'm sure there will be many more. On the first day of school that I don't actually go I'll probably even feel a little left out - as if someone is having a party and didn't invite me! I'll just have to make sure that when that day comes I have a different kind of beginning to look forward to. What will it be? Who knows? It's good to have a little mystery in your life.