I’ve been a parent for eight years now. I’ve been a parent of three for almost four. Do you know what this means, don’t you? Forget wisdom, and potty training expertise (HA). Forget lessons in sleep training and breastfeeding survival stories (you’ll never eat cabbage again, let me tell you). I’ve now journeyed through eight years of parenthood, and the only thing I have to show for it is that I now know every pumpkin patch, apple orchard and farm market within a 10-mile radius of my house inside and out.If you live in the suburbs, and you have young children, you know exactly what I mean. Every fall weekend. Every preschool field trip. If it’s September or October, you have been in the trenches, staring out over the top at the rows and rows of apple trees ready to threaten your patience and checkbook, right along with all of your sisters and brothers in parenthood, armed only with the regulation ammunition of an iPhone, tall boots and a single coffee cup. You have carted home more dirty gourds and grimy baby-sized pumpkins than you ever even knew existed in the world. It’s no big deal to you to find straw in your upstairs hallway. Your child takes off his shoes when he walks in from the garage, and you realize that you could make a decent-sized bowl of popcorn with all the dried kernels that just fell all over the floor. By mid-October, you’ve stopped making eye contact with the parents you see in the fields, among the trees, on the bale of hay. You’re through posting Instagrams of a single red maple leaf lying poetically on the sidewalk. You are convinced that if you make one more apple crisp you will slowly die of a butter-and-cinnamon-induced coma (not a thing, I know. But you see how much spiced mulled apple cider you can drink without getting a little rammy). You smile and nod when you pass by another house with a front porch filled with tiny, slowly rotting pumpkins piled up alongside the mums. There’s another one, you think. There’s another Autumn Trooper. And then you have a mild panic attack because you just realized that you never responded to the other homeroom moms about about the school Halloween party and can’t remember if you’re supposed to be shopping right now for the pine cone craft project or food for the Frankenstein veggie tray and oh my gosh will winter ever get here?
I’m just kidding. I love this stuff. I love the color in the trees and the smell of cinnamon in the oven and the apples the kids are eating like crazy because “I picked this one myself, Mom!” I love, love, the warm coffee and the children laughing on the hay bale slides. I even love the pumpkins (well, not the mud-covered one I just found in Cian’s room. We’re not going to talk about that). I’m not so good with the small talk with other parents at a preschool field trip at 8:45 in the morning, but I’ll even take that if I get to see my son holding his teacher’s hand and playing with his new friends. It’s fall. Time slows down a bit in the fall. It’s cool in the morning and hot in the afternoon and you never, ever know how to dress you kids, but even that’s okay: nothing is permanent. You have to go with the flow during this time of year, because fall is change and it’s taking you with it, whether you like wearing season-appropriate down vests or not.
I wonder a little how many more years we’ll have before the children are over these family fall festival tours. When do they get too old for the slides, and fresh apple cider doughnuts (BLASPHEMY)? When will they tire of me taking their pictures in the glaring afternoon sunlight of an apple orchard (eh. I think we’re at that point already)? What will I do in the autumn months then? Relax? Ugh.Fall is change, yes, but between you and me and the grumbling I’ll do when it’s 85 degrees this afternoon but we’re all still wearing the morning’s sweatshirts and pants? I’m not sure how quickly the change is coming, so I’m going to hold onto these slow days for as long as I can.Or until Thanksgiving brings pie season, at the very least. We’re going to have to do something with all of these pumpkins.