I would love to say it’s been a busy summer, and in some ways that’s true. Mostly, it’s been a summer when I didn’t feel much like talking. Or writing, although I did it anyway because I like being gainfully employed.
My eldest moved out in June, and my youngest is starting 8th grade today. I’m feeling melancholy that by the time I was able to work from home, both my kids were too old for it to really impact them. By the time we got the house remodeled, one of them was on his way out the door.
It feels like I am too late, running behind, trying to make deadlines that already expired.
I did accomplish a lot of work on my creative projects this summer. Not as much as I hoped, but I was also trying to spend time with my kids when I could. My most recent novel is sitting at 16,000 words, which is probably more writing than I did in an entire year for a while there.
Come to think of it, this past year has been a productive one for writing. I finished an epic fantasy novella, as well as the third Belle Starr novella. I finally completed my steampunk Beauty & the Beast retelling. I also got started on a video game project on Twine.
Some of this creative activity has been me trying to fill the space my kids are vacating without creating personal drama, which was my go-to “space filler” in the past. It’s definitely a more healthy way to deal with loss.
Or maybe it’s a healthier way to avoid dealing with loss.
Not coincidentally, I’ve also spent some time this summer just crying. Which actually is dealing with loss. This is also productive. In the past, whenever I let myself grieve, bad things happened. So it takes a certain amount of faith for me to express sadness. I am very good at deflecting it and hiding behind humor. While the ability to defer grief until you’re better able to deal with it can be useful, you can’t just keep reflexively putting it off forever. It’s a habit I’m trying to break.
Habits can be powerful tools. They’re like the Instant-Pot of time management – Just set it and forget it! This summer, change interrupted most of my habits. It left me kind of disoriented and disorganized for a while. But – it also opened things up. Without those habits and routines to rely on, I floundered a bit, but I also explored and experimented.
Now the new school year has started, and along with my kids, I’m learning new things. I’m playing with new forms of expression. I’m building new habits I think may pay off big in the future.
But it doesn’t mean I don’t miss the past – or parts of it – from time to time.