First day of school: Elisabeth (sophomore), Olivia (freshman), Abby (senior), and Corbin (kindergarten)
It's a cliché used every year by students lucky enough to call themselves seniors – the last first day of school. Of course, by no surprise, I didn't prepare myself for waking up at 7 AM on the first day of school, so my alarm sounding underneath my pillow sounded like a death sentence in the early hours of the morning on August 23rd.
I picked out my outfit the night before, something that always helps me feel more organized and less pressed for time in the morning. I woke up, blasted Dear Evan Hansen in my bathroom (which is ironic because when the musical opens, it's the morning of Evan and Connor's first day of senior year) and tried to make myself look remotely presentable enough that my classmates didn't wonder what had happened to me over the summer.
I tried (half-heartedly) not to roll my eyes when my mom said she was going to take pictures of us for the first day, and in all honesty, I felt bad that morning because I felt like only my important first day was being recognized, but there were other exciting things happening that day as well: it was Olivia's first day of high school and Corbin's first day of kindergarten.
I got to school, found my locker, said hi to people that I know I probably wouldn't talk to after the first week back, and realized how weird it is that I'm a senior now. I get to sit in the senior hallway, I get to leave early for lunch, and during our senior class meeting to go over rules for the senior, it was my graduation date projected in front of me. My classes this year are okay; mostly, I'm excited for physics, AP English, and to take a law and order class online. I'm worried about not feeling as challenged as I did last year, something that most of the time I welcome and enjoy. I get to spend my entire morning with one of my best friends, and the majority of my classes are small, which is nice and more personable.
Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if you're a senior or a seventh grader, you're still going to have people you don't like in your classes (I learned this many times throughout the day). I finished out the school day in marketing, and when the final bell rang at 3:25 I felt like the school day had gone by so fast. I went home feeling happy and excited for what the school year had to bring.
Surprisingly, mom didn't grill me with questions about the first day when I got home, which I was thankful for. I went to my room and read until Alex got to my house. How many girls are lucky enough to have a boyfriend that will drive an hour to come see them on their first day of senior year???? I can't imagine the number is huge, but I'm grateful I'm one of them 🙂 He took me out to dinner and then we came back home and watched a couple shows. This was one of the times where I sat, just talking to him, and realized how truly lucky I am to have a boy like him in my life.
So, the last first day of school was good. It felt different and the same all at the same time, but mostly it made everything suddenly seem so real. Senior year has started, we're diving in head first, and we're staying afloat.
(written on August 24, 2017)
The first day of school always makes me think of the scene in "Finding Nemo" when Nemo is freaking out excited about starting school, bouncing off the walls of the anemone, shouting, "First day of school! First day of school!" It's not like that around here, per se.
Yesterday was the first day of school. I sat down to write about it while the feelings were fresh, happening in real-time. But it was too raw. I was too emotional. I didn’t expect to be that emotional. As I’ve aged, I’ve become kind of cynical and cranky, so I thought that was going to safeguard my crinkly, wrinkly heart from all this crybaby crap.
I cried all day long. My nose is still raw from over-wipage.
I watched Mama Mia. Twice.
I could say I feel silly for being so emotional about the first day of school, but instead, I’m going to own it like only the mother of four—including a kindergartener and a senior—can.
Most of my sadness is over my senior, Abby. Despite being a stay-at-home mom for most of her first five years, I feel like I missed too much. Didn’t get enough time. Does everyone feel like this? I felt like I didn’t write down enough stories. I didn’t keep the newspaper articles about her accomplishments. I didn’t monitor her technology usage. I didn’t protect her enough. I protected her too much. I didn’t teach her about money. I didn’t go shopping with her enough. I bought her too much stuff. I didn’t teach her to cook. I didn’t…I didn’t…I didn’t…I didn’t do enough…
But truth be told…in these first 18 years I did some stuff, too. We did some stuff. I put my career aside so that I could be home with her and her sister when they were little. I rocked her to sleep. I tucked her in. I taught her letters and sounds and numbers and opposites and colors and animals and feelings and shapes and even a little bit of Spanish.
I read to her. She read to me. I taught her to love to read. If we had only done that, it would have been a lot. But we did more than that.
We played music, and I taught her to love Broadway musicals. I sang to her (badly) and paid for a saxophone and lessons for piano and guitar. She sang and played for me. I went to softball, basketball, and volleyball games, choir and band concerts. I sent her to writing classes and camps. She read me her stories and poems. I listened to her practice speeches and cheered her on. I bragged about her on Facebook.
I got a PhD and taught her that education is IMPORTANT. She listened. I taught her that we can do hard things. And then she taught it back to me.
We had late night conversations about boys, friends, classes, fears, books, music, poetry, movies, college. I took her to church. I told her not to drink, do drugs, or smoke, and that I’d turn her in in a hot second if she did.
We had jam sessions in the car. I laughed at her crazy voices and stories. I took her to approximately 17,000 different appointments. I taught her to drive. I taught her to paint. We painted together. I taught her to love mochas. I taught her to mow the yard. I made her favorite cookies, suppers, desserts, muffins. I got involved at her school. I embarrassed her sometimes. I took her on vacations. I sent her on school trips. She earned school trips.
I taught her that boys don’t know stuff.
I hugged her. She hugged me. Our tears mingled. I worried about her. I prayed for her.
I taught her that she could talk to me about anything. And she did. I taught her that she could call me to be picked up when the people she was with were doing things they shouldn’t. And she has.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I loved her. I love her. I’m not the perfect mom, but I am a good mom. We did stuff.
And then it hit me. I got it.
I wasn’t sad on the first day of her senior year because I haven’t done enough with her. I was sad because we have done so much, and I don’t want it to end. I know it doesn’t really end, but I don’t even want it to change.
But it will, and it will mean remarkable things for her. And I’m grateful. But I’m going to give myself permission to feel all the feelsthis year. Sad, excited, proud, angry. The full spectrum. And I’m going to keep loving her.
Virtually every mom I know does all of these things. But we forget. We tend to focus on what we didn’t do, or what we think we did wrong. We think what we did do is the minimum required and therefore doesn’t count. But it counts. It adds up. It cultivates.
So all you mamas out there, take a few minutes today to think of all the things you did do, and know you created a life for her (or him). You filled up every last second.