Make sure not to ‘fall’

By Helena Rodriguez

I know why they call it fall. Right about this time of year, everything starts falling into your lap like a tree that comes crashing from nowhere.
Every year — just before the leaves turn to rusty orange, lemon yellow or dirt brown — those lazy days of summer transform into a crazy fall rush.
School. Sports. Band. Homework. Church activities. Night meetings.
Time to fasten your seatbelt! Things always speed up after Labor Day, especially if you have children. Children feel it, too. That’s when most teachers’ warnings turn into the “real thing” and they start dishing out the homework — if they haven’t already.
The fall rush always catches me off guard. Although I know what to expect, it seems like I, just like my daughter, am never ready for back-to-school. Fall rush was a welcoming change of pace last summer because I took an extended leave from my previous newspaper job to have surgery. This fall is a different story, though, especially since I am a student again for the first time in 13 years. I keep saying to myself, “if only I can make it through this week I’ll be OK.”
Despite the faster pace of life that comes with autumn, however, there are a few perks to this crispy, cooler time of year. Although fall doesn’t officially began until Sept. 23, according to my desktop calendar, I’m ready for long-sleeve weather now, especially after this dry summer, and I’m ready for some Dallas Cowboys Sundays. How about you?
By the way, when do we turn our clocks back? Daylight Savings Time or “Fall Back,” as they call it, should really start at the beginning of the school year, not in October, after we’ve slipped into a routine. I could use the extra Zs right now.
I expect this to be a busy fall. A lot of people — editors, homework-happy professors and an active teenager involved in sports, band, dance and church this semester, want my time. Instead of whining about it though, I’m happy to say I’ve learned through trial and error, and have taken some precautions this year so I don’t get overwhelmed and overcommitted like I’ve done before. I recommend you do the same, too, if you can.
After this week, my fulltime job with Freedom Newspapers will go to part-time so I can concentrate more on my studies and be at home in the evenings with my daughter, Laura. I also plan to go back to substitute teaching a few days a week. It is a sacrifice. Money will be tight, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. After all, why should any of us put more stress on ourselves than we need? I’ve been there and done that and it does nobody any good.
I will be doing some car pulling, shuttling my daughter and probably my nieces (if my sisters say please), around town, too. There will be sports events, band concerts, Wednesday night catechism and, get this, hip-hop dance class for Laura. I will be the official driver and cheerleader.
I will give the pep talks and wear the hat of a tutor at home when necessary. I will be the shoulder to lean on through book reports and term papers, wins and losses, setbacks and accomplishments — and possibly first loves and heartbreaks.
Amidst all this, there will still be dishes to wash and dinner to cook. Funny thing is, I’m sure I’ll look back at this all someday and wonder where all the time went.
As you head into the fall rush, remember, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, although it may feel like it at times. By the same token, you must also know your limitations as you rejoin your civic groups and other fall activities. Don’t commit to more than you can handle. Volunteering is great, but not when it adversely affects your family life.
So remember, just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you have to let everything “fall” on you.

Helena Rodriguez is lifestyles coordinator for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at helena_rodriguez@link.freedom.com