Tomorrow is the first day of school. For the past week, we parents have been scrambling to buy school supplies, schedule check-ups, haircuts, teeth cleanings and whatever else we need to do to get through the next few months with our sanity relatively intact. We are feeling the pain in our wallets, paying for all these things as well as school fees, wondering how the start of school got so expensive.
For some parents, tomorrow will be the first of firsts, watching that preschooler or kindergartner walk through their classroom door, sad that they aren’t just a little bit upset about leaving, you, but proud they are ready for this day. For others, tomorrow will be the first of lasts, the last time their teenager has a first day of high school or the last time their college freshman sleeps at home before heading out into the world.
Some parents are secretly (or not so secretly) happy that the endless summer of bickering, an empty refrigerator, a messy house, and constant taxi service to fill the hours of the day has come to an end. Others will wonder where the summer has gone, sad that the lazy days, spontaneous field trips, and campouts are over.
Many of us, feel all of these things: the firsts, the lasts, and the stuff in between. It sounds trite, but the stuff in between happens so quickly. I remember those first days of preschool and kindergarten – there was no looking back, not a tear shed – my girls were ready. And at the time, I was too. Ready for them to start the next chapter, to learn, to grow, and to become individuals. I was also ready for some time of my own, to work and to get all those things done that had been worked in around their schedules.
Fast forward to tomorrow and I have a sixth-grader and a freshman in high school. What happened to the stuff in between? How we got this far is mind blowing to me. How did they get this old? How did I get this old?! Yes, just like kindergarten, they are ready. Ready to start the next chapter, to learn, to grow, and to become individuals. These words are even truer now than they were almost ten years ago. For the first time, they will attend separate schools, have teachers who never met their sibling, and forge new friendships – that if they’re like me – could carry into their adult lives.
This is big stuff. For them and for me. We have entered unchartered waters – the years of the push-pull. Pushing for independence and crying for help, sometimes daily, sometimes hourly. In many ways, this time in our life feels as demanding as when they were toddlers. It is definitely exhausting, mentally and physically. But as we begin this roller coaster ride together, I hope I do not lose sight of the stuff in between. Because the last of firsts will be here before I know it.
So as we all get ready for tomorrow, let’s make the most of it. The firsts, the lasts and most importantly, the stuff in between.