The alarm rings and it’s still dark. We’re in that season already, and it came faster than we had anticipated. The night falls early, the night lingers long, the night envelops you in questions and darkness and wonder.

When the morning dawns, especially in my new house, there is pink and yellow on the horizon. Possibility behind the clouds. A sky lightening with hope and innocence, with inspiration.

But in the house, when I am the only one awake, it is reverently quiet. I make the kids’ lunches – what to put in them today that they will eat, what will they be happy to find when they unzip at the noisy lunch table, hungry and tired from shuffling through the morning’s subjects.

A cut-up apple, a plastic bag of olives or cucumber slices, sandwiches or bagels, a bag of chips. Shoot, I forgot to bake cookies last night, but you can’t do everything, every day. I ran through curriculum night, the only one of three parents available to meet the teachers and hear about what my children will be learning this year. Arrived home sweating and exhausted, but triumphant with a sheath of papers from each teacher and a face to go with a name and a subject.

After making the lunches, I meditated on the rug with a single candle flickering in the still-dark dawn. Then I showered and dressed before waking the kids, all of whom would have preferred to snuggle deeper into the blankets and stay there for the day. We are one week into school and my children would rather stay home.

Even the little one. They have fun enough in school, and friends, but they would prefer to not be on the treadmill of our lives, leaving early, doing homework late, baseball games under the electric lights because the sun sets so early now.

It’s too much. It’s too fast. Where is the time to just sit and talk and notice how wonderful my family is, how poetic the moments?

We were running late of course and so I left without one child, to teach a lesson, and instantly regretted it. She was taking too long. But still. And so when I returned and picked her up and took her to school, the tears came in front of the building. I took her home. We snuggled on the couch for an hour plus, just to be there, just to be together. And I believe it was the most important part of my day and hers.

I am not the mean mom. I am supposed to be teaching them routine and lessons and responsibility but all I want to do is savor the moments and look in their eyes and be with them until they necessarily leave.

Do you know what a gift this life is? What treasures these children? Society tells us we have the kids to send them off, but I refuse to buy it. I don’t want vacations here and weekends there. I want a life. Capital L.

It doesn’t have to be the way it is. We can buck the trends, change the system. Or simply change our own paths to match what our hearts are screaming for.

If we didn’t have industry, we wouldn’t have schools. If we didn’t have schools, we wouldn’t have bullying. If we didn’t have competition, we wouldn’t need to spend more than we have and end up in debt, taking it out on everyone around us.

We could live simply. Quietly. With just what we need. With the people we love. With friends who actually care and matter and share our beliefs and visions. It could be different.

I’ve digressed onto a soapbox when all I intended to do was wax poetic about my Thursday morning. Yesterday, I drove white-knuckled along a water-logged highway to get home in the storm. Some schools let out early in fear of another drowning city. It was just rain. We got wet. We survived it.

The day was, in fact, incredible. Despite the humidity and the slick roads, I spent hours with my publisher talking about the possibilities in my words. The ways I can inspire more people with story, in the books I will be producing in the coming year or two. Just wait. You’ll see. A good story can change your life.

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