Thursday, September 3, 2009

Great Expectations

Fall is coming. Much to my dismay, it is now September and our already short summer (particularly weather-wise) is coming to an end. I'm a bit bummed that I've already seen leaves changing and the days are getting noticeably shorter. Still, we accomplished a lot this summer. We went to the beach, the playground, and Pittsburgh. We took many walks and played outside. We went to the drive-in and spent a lot of time with family. We went to a few baseball games and a soccer game. We really crammed in quite a bit considering our schedules, but you can always think of more fun things to do when the weather is nice and you have the time to fill. Fall is great, but it's just not the same. The weather is even sketchier than during a rainy, cool summer like this, and bundling up is an extra step I'm not looking forward to. And I always know in the back of my mind that after fall comes winter, and winter can be torture.

Despite my reluctance to get into fall, there are great things about it. For many years, I entered this time of year with mixed emotions, and I guess I still do. My birthday was always the first step, and when it hit I knew that other things weren't far behind. When I was younger, school was right around the corner. When I was older and working in sports, it signaled the official start of the busy season. While both school and hockey season brought with them a lot of stress, there was still a fun newness to it all that piqued my curiosity and got me at least a little excited about what was to come--new classes, new clothes, new dorm room, new friends, new challenges, new hockey season, etc. Nowadays I don't have any significant shifts, but fall still provides some fun activities. I enjoy decorating for fall because the colors look nice in my red and gold living room. I like the feeling of putting on a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt, and re-exploring the other half of my wardrobe (though the novelty here wears off fast!). I like the thought of pumpkin-hunting and going to fall craft shows and bazaars. I like fall foliage and fall foods. There's just a nice aura that surrounds the season, as long as I can keep the looming winter out of my head. I think I just try to draw out as many positives as possible so I don't miss summer as much.

Anyway, the point to all of this is what this fall will be like with Jacob. Last year I knew not to expect much--just finding him a little pumpkin and dressing him up for Halloween. I hoped to get a picture of him sitting in fall leaves, but thanks to the weather and other things, that never happened. But really, I didn't have a lot I felt we should accomplish. This year I think we can do a lot of those same things, but hopefully do them a little better now that Jacob is a little more aware of his surroundings. For example, last year we just got our pumpkins at a farmer's market, but this year it may be worth taking Jacob to a pumpkin patch that offers a lot of other activities - live animals, hayrides, etc. We can dress him up and hopefully even take him out trick or treating a bit. Still, I don't want to get my hopes up too much. Early in the summer when we were planning our activities, I figured Jacob would be walking and maybe even talking by, say, our trip to Pittsburgh in August. Maybe not great in either case, but enough that he might be an easier traveler than he was in, say, May. From eating to packing, I really had no idea where he'd be with any of it, but imagined that by then things would be getting easier on all counts. In reality, by early August he was saying a few words, but walking wasn't even remotely close. Eating was still a bit of a challenge. My expectations of a 13 month old (or our 13 month old, at least) were a bit off. Bummer.

Long story short, whenever I try to plan ahead I often wonder how Jacob will have changed by then. What new talents will he have? How much more self-sufficient will he be? Will he have exited this phase and entered another one? I've been learning that I shouldn't assume anything or take anything for granted because you just never know. Based on how early Jacob liked standing up, I figured he'd be an early walker...but not so much. We're here at 14-1/2 months and Jacob is hesitant to even stand, let alone walk. So who am I to assume that he'll be walking by trick-or-treating time? Heck, I was assuming he'd be walking by the beginning of hockey season (he's too heavy to carry around the arena in the Baby Bjorn anymore, so it's either walking/carrying or the stroller...ugh), but now I'm not so sure.

The point to all of this is that each season brings with it new opportunities and adventures. We should be excited about every single season for so many reasons for years to come, as we watch Jacob and any future children discover all that life has to offer. In our excitement it's easy to think that we'll be able to enjoy it in a certain way, but kids always have something up their sleeves to change things up, and we need to be prepared for that. Fall is coming and we're looking forward to it, but I'm trying not to plan it all now because Jacob has a mind of his own and things may not go as planned. Hopefully I can keep the expectations to a minimum and just enjoy life as it happens...because there's so much there to enjoy regardless.

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