Passing the Torch: From SAHM to Working Mom

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

The Good Life:  A Year of Thoughtful Seasons

Instead of strong coffee and PBS, my new tradition is strong coffee and a quiet car conversation with my 12-year-old son in the front seat…

This past August, when summer camp was over and the library reading program ended, I began to notice how different the morning light had become.  It’s the late summer morning light that always gives me advance notice of school starting, and the way I have long-known that endless summer days will be replaced by front porch lights and wood smoke in the evening.

Normally I would have picked local peaches, and now apples with my children, but this fall heralds another change…

I leave the house with them in the morning and report to school myself as a student teacher.  Our new schedule leaves little time for picking up apples, much less the dirty socks that are accumulating near the burgeoning clothes hampers.  This is a big shift for us, because for the past twelve years I have been home with my kids.  I successfully did consulting work when I could fit it in, and not-so-successfully when I couldn’t get the Gods-of-Work to smile upon me.  Our recent relocation to western Massachusetts brought that and my stay -at-home motherhood, to a close.  I feel satisfied—completely satiated—by the work I’ve completed.  Was it always an Anne Geddes photo?  Not by a long shot.  When my children were little, I remember thinking that staying home was like doing tiny arm circles.  All.  Day.  Long.  But the truth is, I did my very, very best , and time has already started to blur away the isolation and blinding frustration of those early years.  I always wondered why my own mom could only remember my toddlerhood in a remarkably rosy, angelic light.  I still don’t know why.  I only know that it is now happening to me.   Life is beautiful that way.

So now, instead of my decade-long tradition of strong coffee and PBS Kids in the pre-dawn darkness, my middle school son and I get up in the dark together, once again, and get ready to greet the outside world together.  My husband takes our littlest boy to kindergarten, where his big sister is in the fourth grade.  This year instead of picking apples, we will get fitted for pre-pointe shoes and attend football games.  Instead of strong coffee and PBS, my new tradition is strong coffee and a quiet car conversation with my 12-year-old son in the front seat.  I am truly not bereft because like relocating, moving forward is easier when you know you are going to a really good place.

So after all those years of rocking, nursing, crying (them or me), singing (them or me), playgroups, story times, and Mommy and Me classes, I am moving forward to a really good place, and so are they.

Today I am passing the torch to my Mother-Soul-Sisters, knowing that each of you are doing your very, very best.  I am also passing on a poem, given to me long ago by a mother whose name I regretfully no longer remember, although I can still see her face.   It stayed on my refrigerator for a long time.  Maybe now it will stay on yours.

At Home

by Joy Berry-Parks

Eating oranges with you is amazing.
Worth the cessation of the interminable laundry folding,
and infinitely rewarding, in contrast.
Five minutes with you, like this in a parenthetical event
(unplanned but persuasive in its simplicity)
Makes this life, these choices, these three years,
So far with you,
An epiphany.
The brilliance of this moment, in fact,
throws into shadow the tears (yours and mine),
the exhaustion, the endemic clutter,
the condescending smiles at my occupation,
even the heretofore glaringly obvious dearth of spending money
You are oblivious to such miracles, of course
Thoroughly juiced, you sit cross-legged
absorbed in your third orange
“This is sweet!”  You say, overcome.

I know, I know-
I have tasted these years fully.


Sarah Mattison Buhl

As a mother of three, Sarah appreciates the extraordinary beauty of the ordinary. She makes her home with her family in Northampton, MA.

[Photo credit: (ccl) waferboard]

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