Friday, June 17, 2011 • 6:58 AM Comments (5)


posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

If misery loves company, we were a companionable crew yesterday. Take one papa with an ear infection, one mama with a sty that will not budge, and one just-turned teenager with an aversion to transitions (school year ending) then toss in a less-than-sleeping-easily three year-old—and two more not terribly miserable young people. What have you got? Our house on a Thursday in June, that’s what.

We are, no doubt, as any family with people in school is, in a time of flux. The school year’s close does that. For the seventh grader, this is always tough. Like Nate the Great, he decided that hard times warranted pancakes (blueberry). And promised to clean up. And didn’t. Thus pitching 1) a fit, 2) a series of unfortunate encounters with parents and siblings. Things got marginally better when I named the end-of-year issue.

Kitchen cleaning seems a ways into his future. Cooking projects are on hold for a week, declares the mama. She predicts a long week ahead with loads of grumbling.

The now rising third grader remains unhappy about the impending new school. He’s drinking in almost every moment of the three-week camp-at-school experience his school offers to bridge the gap between its early close and other schools finishing up. His mood, though, is pretty cheering. He even asked a question about his new school and didn’t immediately follow it up with, “are you sure I can’t get you to change your mind and let me go back to my old school?”

For once subscribing to the less-is-more camp successfully, I have not been bringing the school change issue up. The new school year, after all, is kind of far away.

And not to be outdone, Saskia just spent her last morning in the Younger Group yesterday. Next week, she’ll be a Middle Group gal. She’s spent nearly two years in the Younger Group (since she was the tiniest one in the class) and so this transition across the hall, it’s a thing. She sounds ready, though. She knows she’s going with friends—she made an across the hall gesture—“over there.”


In the midst of this, I thought to myself about how as a culture we don’t factor in moods all that much. You can have a blue day—and it can just be that.

It’s taken me a lot of years not to be terrified by blue days. Melancholy—I felt it fleetingly, just taking in some warm late day sun and breeze driving along yesterday evening, a kind of nostalgic sensory memory of a much harder summer a long, long, long time ago, but I knew that’s what I recalled—it’s part of life, like everything else.

In my quest for some sleep and a little less much-ness in our household this summer, I’m going to try to remember that things like melancholy (not one but two teenagers, remember?) and boredom have their place in life. Rather than fear these things or fight them, I’m going to try to let them in.


Sleep, you wonder? It seemed impossible that in the midst of one refusing to sleep and another melting down I might get to sleep, but I simply forged my way toward bed and climbed in. By then, the eight year-old was asleep on the floor, the three year-old in her room (thanks, in the end to her papa’s patient assistance) and so the moody young teen climbed into bed with me and we both conked out. The ninth grader went to bed at ten! The papa nodded off after the rest of us.

Comments (5)
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How can we even think about being blue without thinking of Joni?

Posted by Molly Monet on 6.17.11 at 11:05

We cannot. Just cannot be done. SHe made it what it is, to us.

Posted by Sarah B on 6.17.11 at 11:07

Sarah, this piece is, just, so good.

I may not always agree with you, but dam, your writing just gets sweeter with each post.

"Melancholy—I felt it fleetingly, just taking in some warm late day sun and breeze driving along yesterday evening, a kind of nostalgic sensory memory of a much harder summer a long, long, long time ago, but I knew that’s what I recalled—it’s part of life, like everything else."

I can picture you behind the wheel of your car, as I have been, feeling the same emotions, mostly as the sun is setting. It SO used to scare me. Now, I nearly relish in it, knowing, or more so trusting, just how fleeting it is.

It usually comes to me in the springtime, leading me to believe that it is a body memory of sorts, as you said, from a much harder spring, a not so long time ago.

We deal with moods in my household. Sometimes it's me, other times it's the husband, kids, or even the pets. I finally get the reason the mood ring was invented!

Feeling lots of love, having read this...

Posted by Michele Z. on 6.17.11 at 20:00

Accepting the entirety of our experience--including the blue moods, the sleeplessness, and harder times--will always, as you describe so well, allows us (and teaches our kids) to accept ourselves in all of our authentic variability--our be less rocked by it is a testament to our experience after so many years on the perk of getting older!

Posted by randiek on 6.20.11 at 8:01

I love this for so many reasons. I have pretty big struggles with sleep-- they're mine, not anyone else's fault here, but it does make some nights, when I could and just need to sleep sooo badly-- a little tense when others are melting down, way too busy, uninterested in sleep or any number of other things... I had a friend when my daughter was very young-- her son a couple years older. We were discussing our children and sleep. I said no, my daughter didn't sleep through the night, did her son? She said, no, of course not-- she said "Ive concluded that anyone who says their child sleeps through the night, and always does so, is either ignoring their child or just plain lying." The latter had never, ever occurred to me, but was enormously reassuring. As are many of the descriptions of your family. xo

Posted by laurawrites1 on 7.2.11 at 15:16



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