School is back in session and it is as if we are all poised at the top of a roller coaster ride. I have no idea what’s in store, but I am already keenly aware of how much things have changed. Where once there were two, there is now one and two where just one had been. The tugging of age and new abilities tests the sweet braids of friendship that have been woven over summer days. The cruel truth about three is that often the 2 + 1 dynamic can’t be quieted. We take it slow, trying to be gentle as clashes come.

My own rhythm is broken by a new landscape, as we tilt in new directions as our priorities change. We are tighter as a family than ever, but the demand to rearrange the orientation is palpable.

Avery wants to ride her bike, Briar wants to get her hair done, Finley wants to cuddle.

Avery wakes before dawn, Briar can’t sleep before 11pm and Finley can’t decide.

This doesn’t touch it really, it’s deeper, it is the raw hunger for identity, for a relationship within a relationship—1 sister with 1 parent, 1 girl with 1 adult, 2 big girls with no tag-a-longs, 2 adults as a couple, one person alone. Even now, I’m not articulating it, because it is more than a single event, it is a new way of living, a balance requiring algebraic equations. It is literally leaving things behind to nurture new life and I can say that it is nothing short of unnatural in the beginning.

I have guilt as I travel so less encumbered, one person to keep safe, one conversation to maintain, easier and heartbreaking at once. More heartbreaking still when I return to find that I was not missed.

I’ve been here before, and no doubt I’ll be here again. This time around I am realizing how precious my strength for carrying extra cargo is and that I cannot afford certain preconceptions. I am unapologetically inside of what Jess called my season of motherhood. As the days grow shorter and cooler, I am committed to living in this time, equipping myself and my family with what we need to weather, revel and grow in this season. This morning the girls showed their own intentions as they worked together to be safe, have fun and wave a connected hello. I couldn’t ask for anything more than this beautiful choreography of family.