The smell of new sneakers. Sharpened pencils. Empty tablets of lined paper waiting to be filled. Unused crayons and bright colored scissors in clean pencil boxes. Fresh beginnings.
And a brand new start.
As a kid I loved back to school. I was always sad that summer was over but I looked forward to being with my friends and learning new things. I loved back to school shopping and picking out my first day of school outfit, laying it out on the floor beside my bed. I loved organizing my back pack, putting everything just so, my anticipation mounting for all the new things ahead.
As a mom I am now watching my kids take part in these very things. Today was the first day of school for four of my children. Moses started 6th grade, Sarah 4th, Silas 2nd and Hope afternoon kindergarten. Four kids at the same school. Four excited, nervous, happy kids ready for a new adventure.
My emotions however felt all over the place. Every start to the school year means my children are getting one year older and each year it seems I am adding one more kid to the flock that is leaving the nest. Sure last week I was pulling out my hair calling Mark in utter frustration that the children were fighting, yelling, making messes, hurting each other, back talking (fill in the blank) but now I am a mess that they are gone and the house is quiet. Did we make the most of the summer? Did I seize the opportunities to connect with them?
The kids were all smiles and I was too as we took their first day of school photos in their brand new sneakers and filled backpacks. But as we waved good bye at the bus stop I broke down into tears. I felt guilty, sad, and relieved all at once. I was looking forward to having space to think my own thoughts again, to connect with the two little girls and excited for the three oldest to go off and experience new things. But I also felt guilty and plagued with doubts. As I unraveled my mess of emotions (with the help of my sister-in-law, mom and husband) I came to the conclusion that I am normal. Every mom goes through this range of emotions that sometimes feels like a roller coaster.
It is a journey of letting go.
I am recognizing how much pressure I put on myself to get it perfect but this mothering thing, it's a journey. There were days, hours, moments this summer that I loved being a mom and having my kids home. There were days, hours, moments where I screamed and shouted and wondered why in the world I have five kids.
There were days we got to each others hearts in real connection and days we got on each other's nerves.
There were hours of quiet peaceful play and times I was counting down the hours to bedtime.
There were moments of laughter and moments of tears.
This is normal. This is motherhood.
But I pray as we say good bye to summer and welcome a new season they will remember the fun memories of summer, the imperfect moments that make us family.
I pray they will know they are loved.
And maybe I don't get a new backpack and sneakers and sharpened pencils but it is a fresh start for me too. And beneath the tears is anticipation for this new season. I am looking forward to quiet afternoons to write, think, and breathe. I am excited to spend time with the two little girls especially Hope as this is her last year of being home in the mornings. I also look forward to getting back to the gym. And I am hoping that some space apart for everyone will bring the kids closer together.
I feel anticipation for the new beginnings that come with the change of season.
Here's to fresh starts...
So long summer. Hello school year!