This is happening. It’s really, really happening. Today, I put my oldest in high school and my (almost) youngest in kindergarten with three in between and one still at home.
That’s six, in case you’re bad at math like me.
As I watched my oldest confidently throw his backpack over his shoulder, look nervously back at me and his dad, and push his way through the high school doors, it hit me.
As I clung to my kindergartener – the preemie who has defied every odd and surprised every pediatric specialist (all 12 of them) – he squeezed my neck and whispered, “I’m so excited to be here,” it hit me.
As I gave a fist bump to my first-year middle schooler with his spiked up hair that took way too long to craft this morning, he grinned at me, cocked his head and said, “I got this mom,” it hit me.
As I watched my sweet girls skip to their elementary classrooms, all giggles and smiles as they embraced their classmates in hugs, it hit me.
As I squeezed and kissed on the baby still in my arms, waving bye-bye to her siblings and then snuggling into the crook of my neck, it hit me.
My kids are ready. I’m sure as hell not, but they most certainly are.
To you first-time school moms who made sure your kids did all their summer book reports and completed all their summer assignments? Kudos to you. I am not that mom. I grinned when I saw your dioramas and perfectly typed reports. I used to be that mom.
I used to worry about how clean my kids’ school uniforms were. If their lunch box was filled with nutritious food, or if they would remember to tell the teacher when they needed to potty. The laundry list of things I worried about would make some of you cry and others laugh. It’s all part of the cycle of learning to let go of your kids.
But now? I know that it’s pointless to worry. Our kids figure it out, if only we’ll let them. Forget their lunch? Don’t rescue them. I promise the rumbling stomach will remind them to grab it from the fridge next time. Forget to bring in an important assignment? Leave it on the table, Mom. They’ll remember it next time. A low grade and a demerit has that effect on kids. Is a kid being mean at school or did you forget it was their super star week? Lift them up and don’t forget to cut yourself some slack.
My only advice to every mom starting school today – whether it’s at a brick and mortar school or in the home, public or private, close to home or far away – is this: Love our kids and lean into the joy of today. Sure it’s okay to shed some tears (mine might also be accompanied by hard liquor, but that’s between me, my “water” bottle and God). But, don’t let the joy of their today be overshadowed by your fear of tomorrow.
To every mom who forgot a school supply, misplaced a school shoe, spilled coffee on her shirt or had a kid oversleep, it’s all gonna be okay sister. Take the first day of school picture anyway, even if your mascara is running (especially if it’s running), squeeze your kids tight and send them off on their great new adventure.
In our house, every day for the last 13 years, we say the same thing to our kids: Make good choices today. This year? We’re tacking on something new. And it’s as much for them as it is for us.
Make good choices today. And go change the world.
Oh, and happy first day of school, y’all.