Today was the first day of school for my girls. First and third grades. Kind of a big deal.
I find the first day of school each year to be very bittersweet. Sweet because I am filled with mama pride as they walk into the big world of school. Happy, smiles, maybe a few hidden nerves and ready to take it on. Bitter because it means the end of our lazy summer days together. It's like working really hard at a job and suddenly getting a demotion and someone else gets your job for hours each day. Kinda unfair. Don't get me wrong...I could never do what teachers do for my children...they just get them for so many hours. This year I decided I must be getting better at this because there were no tears on my part as I walked home. Simply a quiet, sad and a little empty feeling as I took that walk. Walking into the empty house didn't help. No background noise of little girls trying to decide what to play for the day. No doors slamming and running feet as they go from room to room. Silence. Except for the ever faithful Sadi greeting me and being extra attentive as she must have sensed my somber mood. I distracted myself with cleaning. The last few weeks I've neglected housework in favor of the business of summertime playing. Three hours later my house was freakin' spotless. The quietness remained. For some reason even the noise of Top Chef reruns couldn't drown out the lack of kids giggles. Matt came home and took me out to lunch. A nice treat we did occasionally last year...middle of the day date with no need to plan a babysitter. It was fantastic but there are still two hours until I get to pick up my girls and welcome the noise of hearing about their days.
It will get easier as we find our new routine. It's always the beginning that is the roughest. It can't help but be that way...all summer long we were together every day except for the few hours I work. It's hard for me to know they are going about their days with other people and doing their own thing. Please don't get me wrong...I know this is the way it's supposed to go. Slowly, day by day, we learn to let them go. Independence growing each year and finally they are young women out in the whole wide world doing their thang. These are my dreams for them. The process of it, however, is a bit rough. I suppose that is why it is a gradual thing. Today I will pick them up and they will be full of stories about their days...wanting to fill me in on everything. Each year this may change as the people they want to tell everything to will be friends. Lives will get busier, things change...little birds test their wings more and more and then fly away. Our job is to love them up, teach them and help them during this process. First days are a hard part of this process for me.
School brings on new worries for me as well. In the safety of summer months there are no pressures. Life is simple. There is no who to sit with at lunch, which friends didn't want to play at recess, no stress of school work, no who is doing what. It's more like which park should we picnic at and should we invite cousins to join us. As a parent I worry so much about the girls happiness. How are they feeling at school? Are they feeling involved or excluded? Are kids being nice to them? Are they being nice to other kids? How will these days shape the women they grow up to be? My girls are quite different when at school. Layla- the social butterfly was dressed, hair done, teeth brushed and ready to go by 7 am this morning. Ava dragged...reluctant to give up her summer. She hung back and voiced her nervousness about starting a new school year. Where Layla has a tight group of little girls she plays with, Ava hasn't found that. A friend to all, but no one in particular she couldn't wait to see. Preferring at the end of the school year last year to read rather than play during recess. My sweet, quiet girl who doesn't seem bothered by this in the least. I think it is I that worries about her and that she is missing out by not running around with friends. When I stop myself from these thoughts I realize she is happy just being herself and I remind myself to embrace her for who she is. To do this with both girls. Layla in her fiery, outgoing spirit that at times can make me crazy also makes her amazing. And, Ava...happy with just doing her thing and not needing a bunch of friends to justify it. My hope for this school year is to remember this. To let my girls truly be who they are. Not to influence them so their own personalities can shine through. They both have so much to offer in their individual way. My goal is to nurture it and not get caught up in any school or social nonsense that can be hard to avoid during the chaos of the year. By doing this we can keep the summer spirit we crafted so well long into the winter months.
To conclude the sappiness that this has been, I will end with a trip down "first days" memory lane. Why not, right?
Little miss Layla...pre-school...are you kidding me with this sweet face???
Second year of pre-school...still baby faced.
Kinder. Turning into a big kid.
And Ava Grace...pre-school.
Such a happy go lucky girl...first day of kinder.
Totally forgot to pull her second grade photo, but you get the idea. They grow ridiculously fast. This is good and bad. Bitter and sweet. Bittersweet. Yep, that describes my feelings quite well.