Every summer ends with a nervous evening full of questions and possibilities, full of hopes for a new school year. I can remember how hard it was to fall asleep the night before the first day, wondering what would be different this time, wondering what would be the same.
Now that I'm the mom, I spend that night before school starts listening to my children as they restlessly settle into bed, chatting about what excites them and what worries them. I nod as I remember how little they were when they came home from the hospital for the first time. I smile as I remember how tiny my son looked going to his first day of preschool.
We love this picture. His hand on his head made us think he felt the weight of the world as he walked into his first preschool class. His lunch bag was heavy for him to carry. And he wanted to go in by himself - no hand-holding or hugging. He was a big boy, even back then.
Fast forward 8 years and here we are again.
First day of middle school this time, but the photo is the same - back of his head, no one standing with him, not even looking back. But the photo is taken from much further away. We weren't even allowed to stand in the driveway! Watching through the window, we saw him glare at us more than once, waving us away.
I laughed with other moms yesterday that I'd be doing the Happy Mommy Dance when my two were on their buses, headed to school. I'd have the house to myself, and I could do whatever I wanted. I could clean without anything getting messed up right away. I could write without any interruptions. I could finally get something accomplished.
But as the second bus pulled away, I didn't do the Happy Mommy Dance. The minutes ticked by and I thought about how much we all need this time apart. I wondered if my daughter was having fun with her friends, if my son would be able to find his locker, if either of them would think about me on this very busy first day. And I smiled as I thought of how much they both have grown since those early school days. I'd be lying if I said this day was like any other; this day is full of sweet memories and sad realizations that they truly are growing up right in front of our eyes. We were told it would happen - we just didn't believe it.
It's also full of questions for me. What will I do with my time? How will I make the most of it? As soon as I post this, I'll go back to my writing, back to my schedule, back to my list of things to do. But the whole time, I'll be checking my watch, wondering how long it will be before the buses will come back and I can hear all of the stories from the first day of school.