I’m nervous about the first day of school, Sawyer whispered at bedtime. Second grade had come upon him suddenly, right in the middle of a glorious summer that was nothing but losing track of time in a world of imagination and nowhere to be.
The truth is that it blind-sided me, too. I do own a calendar, but I have successfully kept the truth of school buried for as many weeks as possible, willing my brain to pretend that this schedule-less existence would go on forever. But, here we are, on a school night, the first of many, many school nights before we see the glories of summer again.
And, my boy is nervous.
I have seen his classroom. It’s all frogs and rainbows and cheer and potential. He’ll put his assignments in a huge flower-laden mailbox when he finishes them. He has a red locker with his name on it. His teacher is amazing. His classmates are his buddies. He will have a wonderful year.
Yet, I am nervous, too. Not because I worry about how he will do or who he will play with at recess. But, because every time the school bell rings at the beginning of a new year, it is an undeniable marker of the passage of time. Every time a new grade comes around, I remember that each passing day is a day that never comes back to you again. My heart could just about break into a million pieces right here on my worn blue couch. Because kids grow. That’s it. Kids grow, and as wonderful and exciting as it is that kids grow and change and become who they are meant to be, a mama’s heart will still ache. A mama’s eyes will still leak a little. Growing is good. It’s so good. And, it also hurts.
My kids are growing with ease, and I am having all the growing pains.
Every year a few days before school I take the kids to a photo booth to get our pictures taken together. It’s an important tradition that we all look forward to. We hide away behind the dark curtains in the middle of a busy mall and make silly faces and giggle and wait anxiously for our pictures to print. Then we walk to the cookie place and eat cookies and look at our pictures twenty times and point and laugh some more. Sawyer told me he’s hanging our picture inside his new red locker.
Life goes on. Football games and Halloween and golden hues of fall will be here soon. All things I love and look forward to. Christmas will arrive before I can even turn around. And, another glorious summer will be on the horizon in no time. Every stage is magical. I think after ten years of being a mama, I am beginning to understand that contentment lies not in rushing toward the next phase or in longing for what has passed, but in enjoying every moment of the phase that you’re in. Soaking up the delights of having children who are just this age, and trying your hardest to commit the beauty of this day to memory.
So, in the morning, I will wake my kids up with genuine excitement in my voice and a warm smile on my face. This is a big day, and one that will never pass this way again. And, when they walk out the door, if I cry just a little, that’s okay, too. Because mamas can feel so much at once that sometimes it overflows a little bit.
Then I’ll dry my eyes and Emerald and I will look at the photobooth pictures of our big boy and big girl, and we will point and giggle once more. And, maybe we’ll go for a bike ride. Because this day will never pass our way again.