my last first day of school
Today is the first day of school. My son is starting his senior year of high school so essentially it’s my last first day. While he will hopefully have many more firsts (college, work) I am coming to grips with the recognition they will never be shared by me in the same way. So I am in my office sobbing after watching him drive off this morning. I have come full circle from that morning 13 years ago when I cried after leaving him at kindergarten. That year I held his hand as we walked into the classroom then I nervously hung around with other parents until the teacher told us that we really did need to leave now. The next year it was a bit easier, I walked him to the door, gave him a kiss and just lingered for a few moments with my face pressed to the classroom window. By 2nd grade I was dropping and waving from the car and then somehow… here we are…
I meet so many young parents struggling to figure out how to give their best at work and also be the kind of mom or dad they want to be. I don't have all the answers, but I do have a vantage point from where I can see things that I think I did well and those that I wish I had done better. So for all you still dropping off your kids, here are a few thoughts.
Things I Did Right
Made Being Around the First Day a Priority – My jobs have typically involved lots of travel and long hours. I don't think I ever made it to a school field trip. But for back to school I’d try hard to be in town, take the morning off and be home in time for an early dinner. Did I do it every year? Probably not, but enough that I have lots of sweet memories of conversations about first impressions of teachers, which friends (and not friends!) were in the same class and what happened that first day at lunch or on the playground.
Scheduled Coffee with Girlfriends – For many years I had a standing date with friends to meet at Starbucks after first day drop off. Moms need girlfriends. Not the ones who make you feel inadequate by talking about their kids summer accomplishments – can you really write your first symphony and win the Jr. Nationals Tennis title in the same summer? My girlfriends are the kind who make you laugh and don't care that you bring store bought cookies to the school bake sale.
Bought School Supplies for Other Kids – A tradition in our house was to buy the extra back pack and fill it with supplies for a needy kid through one of our local charities. There are lots of organizations that do this and it made the hectic trip to Target a lot more meaningful.
Things I Wish I Could Do Over
Taken More Photos – Somewhere along the way – probably in the eye rolling middle school years, I gave up on capturing the first day back to school photo. There are only so many battles you can fight. Now I wish I had all thirteen years standing in the same spot by the front door. Moms stand your ground on this one. (By the way I found it helps if I promise not to post it on Facebook.)
Written First Day Letters- I wish I had taken a few moments each year to write a letter to my son with my hopes and dreams, my fears and prayers for the year. I could have put them all away and let him have them on graduation.
Did Less Back to School More End of Summer–My son was never one to worry too much about what he wore on the first day or whether he had a new lunch box. But somehow I still ran around like crazy trying to take care of all those chores. I wish I’d just let some of that go (they don’t really use all crayons and folders in the first week anyway!) I’d spend the time eating ice cream or jumping in the pool together.
I can’t and honestly wouldn’t want to do it all over. I mostly just hope to do what lies ahead of me well. So if you see me this year taking way too many photos and crying at the silliest of things remind me to just relax and enjoy the ride.
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