School started this Tuesday… yup, it’s finally here.
On one hand, after being home with six kids all summer, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited about the prospect of less mess, less noise, and a break from constant snack requests.
This feeling was tempered with the necessary evils that accompany any school year. Gone were the slow, mellow mornings of lingering over bowls of cereal in our pajamas… which once in awhile evolved into lunch in our pajamas as well. The beach trips, the late-night movies, the picnics, it’s over, baby!
I set my alarm the night before with dread… as a night owl, I’d been going to bed WAY too late each night. And it finally hit me just how early I’d have to start getting up each morning…
The “back to school” theme is one that begins gaining momentum on social media by mid-August. We parents joke about our countdowns until THE day. We swap battle stories about jockeying for school supplies in the mob of Target’s school supply section.
We laugh at the memes of the moms singing victory songs as they depart from the school parking lot, & joke with one another about how “it’s finally here!”
Most moms can relate to experiencing emotions on both ends of the spectrum: we sometimes love the idea of someone else handling our kids for a few hours… and any parent that has endured a litany of “I’m borrrredddd” complaints knows this.
Then there are the parents that feel the heart tug, maybe even the tears, as they drop their child off to school & walk away, alone.
Despite my relief at navigating a successful first-day drop-off, I was caught off-guard by the unexpected emotions.
It was the kindergartner.
Now with six kids, I’ve done the kindergarten routine before, & adapting to a full day of school can be daunting. But no matter how many times I’ve done it… it doesn’t get easier.
I initially wasn’t sure why it blindsided me today. My daughter was thrilled to go; there were no qualms or hesitations on her part. I felt fine as I waved to her & walked away.
I was still fine when I loaded her younger brother into the car & drove off.
It was when we arrived back at the house, & my son began to play quietly, that the tears came.
It was a very brief shower, but the tears were there.
Logically, you know it’s a bit silly. Kids go to school. Everywhere, all the time. They’ll get used to it, you’ll get used to it, & what seems so foreign merely becomes routine after a time.
You know that your child is in good hands. Your mind knows that your child will soon be coming home with all sorts of colored artwork & fun stories to tell.
But your heart tells you that all of those wonderful things are happening…. without you.
But when they enter full-time school, for the first time ever, the reality hits that they are now part of something bigger than just your own home & family. They are now influenced by adults other than their family or chosen caretakers.
Not that it’s a bad thing; in fact, it’s a healthy process for them. But every step forward is a step away from the tiny, dependent baby they once were, and one step closer to growing up.
There is less of a sting as they return to school each year to other grades, but the poignancy re-emerges when they transition from elementary school to junior high, and so on. Each step forward, while healthy & appropriate, give us that tiny twinge.
What is the twinge, you ask?
It’s the second that reality hits you that it’s all gone by so fast.
It’s those mental images of holding your tiny bundled baby & wondering how it’s even possible that he/she is now the second grader happily skipping off into a new classroom. It’s feeling like it seemed like yesterday that you were snuggling with your firstborn on the couch with a book, & now they’re heading off to high school.
As a former teacher, I love(d) school, and still do. Despite the early mornings & the drudgery of math homework, I genuinely enjoy watching my kids begin to blossom & thrive. I enjoy seeing my older children form deep friendships, succeed academically, & dream big about their futures.
But I’ll always feel the pang of time -slowing down for no one- as I cheer on my kids heading into their first day of school. I give myself pause to mourn the preciously dependent relationship we’re losing, while eagerly embracing what’s still to come.
And then, I drink my coffee… which is actually hot. Because without the kids home all day, I finally have time to drink it!© Copyright 2016 Six Pack Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: Six Pack Mom