As school starts for my own kids and I welcome clients home from summer vacations in my psychotherapy practice in Washington DC, I am completely surprised to find myself feeling a bit blue. You have to understand, that I love Fall and all of the activities that surround getting ready for kids to go back to school—the shopping, the backpacks, the school supplies, the haircuts, the school pictures, and even the daily routine of school days. I have always loved going back to school, even as a child. Now as a parent, I usually enjoy it. And, as a family therapist, I happily arrange my work life around the school calendar as well.
So I ask myself, why am I so blue as I send my kids off on the first day of school? We’ve had a great Summer with many wonderful trips to the mountains, to the beach, to new places and beloved retreats. My kids had so many firsts–first dive off of the diving board, first time riding on two wheels, first time seeing Lake Michigan! As a family, we had a lot of fun going to an amusement park, roasting marshmallows on a camping trip, and surfing waves at the beach. I had some really positive events in my life happen both for work and personally; I got to see friends and to sleep in more (okay, only until 7 or 7:30, but still much appreciated).
So again, why am I down about starting what I know will be a great year? I think the blues lies in the fact that we were so incredibly busy over the summer! We didn’t take complicated vacations, and we didn’t schedule every minute. Yet, we didn’t have very much time to get truly bored with the pace of our lives and wish for something new, or even something familiar to happen. It dawned on me that perhaps we didn’t take enough time to slow down to the point of truly stopping. We paused on quick weekend getaways. But work and camp life kept us busy enough, that our pace only slowed rather than stopped. For me, I’m someone who really loves to keep on moving in life. I don’t like to slow down much and I rarely completely stop. And, I find that the best way for me to refresh is by being active outside someplace that doesn’t feel like being at home around my work life or family duties. While I did get some of that time this Summer, I think that the busy pace probably overshadowed those attempts to unplug. The point is that even when good things are happening in life, they still take up emotional energy and require us to reboot and reset. We also need time to get bored and want to return to school (or work and home life). We have to feel and experience what it is like to be bored before we start craving routine and the rhythms of Fall.
So the moral of the story for me is that next Summer, we can find a time to do less and just to be. If there is one big event dominating the Summer, then perhaps we can honor that and make room for it rather than trying to pack everything in.