6 August


I usually hate August. I mean, I didn't start out having such a strong opinion of it. Way back, almost 15 years ago, when my husband and I got engaged, we chose an August wedding date.

Last year I wrote a post about August that I never published due to the intense lethargy I was experiencing (I seem to do that often in August). I'm going to share most of it below, in italics. 

This August is starting out a little different. A little bit outside of time, with a newborn. And of course, there's no return to work after a summer off for my husband. He's here most of the time right now. I never knew I'd be saying that unemployment was a mixed blessing. 

He's going back to school in a few weeks, to learn new skills and start a new career. It's overwhelming and scary and exciting and sad all at the same time. (This is a man with a doctorate in a field that he can't find work in, afterall.) As I say below, this time will pass, and things will be new. There is always hope: hope that September will come, that new opportunities will present themselves, that there is goodness and kindness in this world. And by hope, I don't mean empty optimism. I mean real hope, confidence that despite bad days and hardship, the end of the story is a good one. 

{Photos in this post are all from this year, not last year.}




swimming lesson


The other day, I saw a comment somewhere that read, simply, "I love August." It was in reference to the garden harvest this time of year. But reading it made me realize something: I hate August. Seeing someone profess their love for the month gave me the permission to admit my hate for it. It was freeing.

It wasn't always the case. It used to just be one of those summer months. Summer not being my favorite season, but special and delightful in many ways. There didn't seem to be anything remarkable about August, one way or another. We chose to have our wedding in August almost as an afterthought. I wanted it to be in June but thought it might be cliche. So we sort of randomly picked another summer date. Now I kind of wish we'd gone with "cliche" June.

August for me now carries all kinds of weird feelings. The heat is sweltering, the landscape dry. School starts too soon. The transition of my husband being suddenly gone for 14 hours a day, usually six days a week, is harsh and callous. To say I make this transition poorly would be a laughable understatement.

Years ago, shortly after I'd begun blogging here, February rolled around and lots of people started complaining about how hard February was, how unjust that the shortest month should feel so long. At first, I tried to play along like I "got" this. But really, I didn't. I don't hate February. I never did. Actually, I love February. 

But, as it turns out, I do hate August. It comes roaring at me, like a crazy locomotive, each year at a faster and more intense pace. I find myself being short with my children, resentful of my poor husband (whose transition to back-to-school is already chaotic enough), grumpy, bitter, and listless. For years, when I used to keep this blog up more than I do now, I'd suddenly take weeks off during August, unannounced. I'd retreat from friends, fight with my sister, hurt my mom's feelings. 

What am I going to do about it? I don't know. It doesn't seem as simple as just coming up with a formula. I think it's something I need to reflect on, and gradually turn over, like soil. 

I will tell you that I've been trying this year. One day when my kids seemed to be possessed, and I seemed to be possessed (fights, scolding, fights, scolding), I decided to break the cycle by taking them to the movies. I have never taken my own children to the movies before. So we went to see "Brave". Another day, I surprised them with little Lego sets. 

I've been trying to keep fresh flowers in the house. I've been going easy on dinners. Salad has been popular, and hot dogs. I've been reading to them a lot. I've been trying to say "yes" whenever I can. 

James starts soccer next week. Elisabeth starts a new year-round swim team soon after. The heat of August will pass, September will come. I know this.

I still hate August. But these little things helped. They reminded me, it's not all bad.