School starts today. Maybe in your neck of the woods, you have a few precious days to squeeze out of summer vacation. Ours ends now. And it comes just in time because we’re all losing our minds. Camp is long over, and we’ve returned from a lovely week at the beach. The girls have been climbing the walls for days, claiming they’re bored or tired, and to be honest, we have run out of things to do for them.
We’re all ready.
For the first time in our family, the first day of school is just another Wednesday. In the past, we’ve treated the first day like a national holiday. The earliest years were too precious to ignore. I have written about clinging to the end of summer and lamented over the end of summer. I poured my soul into letters to my oldest and my youngest on the eve of kindergarten, yet here I sit, the morning of the first day of first and third grade at a complete loss for words.
How did we get here? What happens next?
It feels like preschool was eons ago. I remember looking at parents of elementary school age kids and wondering what their lives were like. Older kids were full of life and opinions and ideas. And somehow, inexplicably, we’re those parents now. We’re closer to their Bat Mitzvahs than their births. We are halfway through elementary school with our oldest and our youngest waltzed assuredly into the school sneak peek with a huge smile on her face like she owned the place.
We have arrived.
Except the point of arrival is like floating in space. We’re far from diapers but staring down some of the hardest years of parenting. Despite our best efforts, the frustration and the sleep deprivation, they can walk, talk, eat, and sleep. Now we have to redouble our efforts because we are their guides as they learn to think, reason, argue, fight, and serve. The hard is work is done and more hard work remains.
I look at those little girls and I shake my head because I feel simultaneously grateful and stunned that I get to be their mom. And being their mom is both a joy and a responsibility I still don’t fully understand.
Summer is over. It was an incredible blur. The girls are exponentially more independent with every passing day. And they are also evolving into a strong (and periodically adversarial) team.
So it’s times to keep moving. I have such huge hopes for this year but I know better than to make any grand plans. Instead it’s one foot in front of the other.
Onward to (gulp) first and third grade!