Just a brief post to say: today the girls had their Halloween parade / assembly / party at their preschool. Alastair and I got the girls into their costumes this morning, together. Elsa is being a dragon. She’s waaay into dragons, these days, Puff the Magic and otherwise. I got her this comfy, pajama-y dragon costume with a big ole funny dragon head as a hood.
Clio chose cowgirl. We’re not sure where this came from, but when I was showing the girls a bunch of costumes online (yeah, yeah, I’m the lame, over-busy mom who doesn’t make her kids costumes. Sue me) she immediately gravitated toward the “girlier” costumes: fairy, witch (cute, not sexy), and cowgirl. Cowgirl won.
Last year, Clio refused to wear her costume to the preschool Halloween thing. She spent the entire assembly in her teacher’s arms, tearful, while the rest of the class went up on stage to sing. This year, she was completely psyched. Hootin’ and a hollerin’ happy. She sang, she did the gestures, the whole nine yards. Elsa did, too. They were beautiful.
Last year I wasn’t there. I had to be at work, so I only heard about the whole thing secondhand. I saw the pictures. This year, I was the one who brought the girls to school, who sat there in the auditorium grinning at them and all the other costumed kiddos — the superheros and dinosaurs and princesses and witches — as they fidgeted and sang and shuffled around.
Last year at this time, I was deeply depressed. I was dragging myself out of bed in the mornings, considering taking medical leave from work, wondering when or how I would ever feel better. I hated that I wasn’t the one taking the girls to their preschool Halloween party. I hated how awful I felt. I hated what my life looked like. I felt so damned stuck, so lost. It was like Groundhog Day (the movie, not the dumb holiday).
A year later, and I am unabashedly content. I’ve found the right medication cocktail to keep my depression in check, and have been stable for almost a year. My new work life as a freelancer affords me the flexibility to be a bigger part of my girls’ daily lives, to do my work on my own terms, and make time for my creative writing. It’s not always easy. In fact, there are times when I am practically overwhelmed by everything I’ve got on my plate. But I’ll take it.
This morning, as I was driving the girls to school, I found myself reflecting on all of this. We were stopped at a light, with a view of a park on our left. There was a flock of Canada Geese nosing (beaking?) around on the grass, and the trees were orange and golden. The girls were chattering away in the back seat while a couple of folksy kids’ musicians sang “Going on a Bear Hunt” on the stereo. I was suddenly, keenly aware of how painful it was back then, and how blessedly pain-free it was now. How good it felt not have a pit permanently carved into the middle of my chest or be constantly on the verge of tears. How glad I was for the changes I’d made in my life — I was taking the girls to preschool! — and how good it was to feel like myself.
I am not a religious person. I’m not even sure I believe in God. But the word that occurred to me, for some reason, as I was looking out at this scene — geese, leaves, etc. — and feeling all these things was ‘grace.’ What does grace mean, exactly? Good fortune? Mercy? Thanks? The thing Jackie O. had, that Elaine Benes didn’t? Just something generally amazing? I’ve never been quite sure. But that’s my word for today — for this whole Fall, maybe — and I’m sticking with it.
* * *