What is it about change that we human beings deplore? Why does an altered course of direction leave us unsettled until it becomes routine? As parents, we should know that change is all we have. That little newborn turns into an infant. Smiles cross their faces as their eyes begin to focus. They crawl, clap their hands, take their first steps, and learn to use the word "No!" We can't wait for them to talk (and then later learn to regret that it went so fast). They attend preschool, then school, and then they are suddenly off on their own. Why do tears fill our eyes as we watch our little ones, burdened with oversized backpacks and a new pack of crayons, go off to school? Change.
I am most affected by the change of seasons. The first week of September should be a joyous one as we celebrate another school year beginning or Labor Day picnics with friends. Instead, I mope around until mid-month with a bleakness that my husband has begun to recognize as fall-phobia.
A recent event is evidence for the inevitable sadness I feel when fall strikes. It was the first week in August with record temperatures in the 100's. For Central Europe, it was a relentless summer without air conditioning or fans to cool the air. So when I saw that first fallen leaf resting on my windshield in the library parking lot, I felt a deep sense of loss despite the sweat on my brow.
It's the drought that is making the leaves turn brown, I reasoned as I strapped my children into their car seats and carefully backed out of the parking space. I tried to ignore the pumpkins and witches being displayed in a store window that we passed. It's only August, I whispered. We still have time.
Then came that wind, more like a puff of cool air that Mother Nature sends to Earth as a harbinger of fall. I was standing in the kitchen with my four-year-old daughter. She was trying to convince me that she could still wear her tank top even though the temperature had dropped thirty degrees since yesterday. I stopped in mid-sentence and listened. There was a distant hum wheedling its way through the kitchen window. The sound was coming from the fields. The corn harvest had begun in earnest. There were only a few reliable dry days left. My pulse quickened as I saw the farmers on their oversized farm equipment, hustling to and from the land behind our house.
Apples suddenly became the cheapest item in the farmer's market. Cider was the drink of choice at parties to which we were invited. We saw plump, orange pumpkins glistening in the slant of light. I held my children's hands a little more tightly and tried to hold this moment in time. To no use. The leaves changed anyway. The grapes ripened on the vine. A new series of wine was bottled and sent to collect dust on liquor store shelves.
We recently celebrated my son's second birthday. He looked so cute in his birthday hat despite the savage look on his face. He was not pleased with the elastic band, but he humored us for a few snapshots anyway. As I looked into the eyes of my beloved husband, I still saw the glimmer that caught my attention many years ago. Perhaps some things truly do not change, I pondered as I sliced into my son's chocolate cake. Perhaps. Perhaps.
Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, is an American living near Munich, Germany with her husband and two children. Visit her web site at: http://mypages.iparenting.com/webs/diaryofamother/diaryofamother.html
Copyright© 2003 Christine Louise Hohlbaum. All Rights Reserved