It’s the first day of school. For many, it brings up a whole cauldron of feelings all mixed together, bubbling away, with scary, sad thoughts permeating our wellbeing. I’m not talking about just the nervous kids either, but many parents as well.
I remember standing in the dining room window, tears streaming down my face, watching Brendon walk to school with the Erickson kids like it was yesterday, back in Berthold, some 35 years ago now. I felt like I missed my last chance at something I couldn't get back, but couldn't put my finger on what. I told myself he’s ready and on to new great things, playing with friends etc… but without me (sniff). Ok stop Pam, that’s selfish! So I moved on to guilt. Guilt that I shouldn't have gotten mad at him as many times as I did. I should snuggled him more, and whatever else I could beat myself up about…To say I was overwrought was an understatement. It’s scary to think you aren't the only one now, that’s now going to be molding your child. You hope and pray other kids will be nice and include them. You're slapped in the face with the realization that they need you a little less with every passing year. For someone who sunk my whole identity into parenting, it was really rough.
I’m thinking today of my teacher daughter, Shelbey, driving her 2 month old, and her 2 year old, to day care - hoping the caretakers are trustworthy and responsible in spite of all the scary stories we hear these days. She knows nobody could love these kids like she does, and longs to stay home with them. To top it off, childcare is costing her 1700. a month. The thought of staying home with them is cut short when reality kicks in, because she knows she has to work to take care of them. She loves teaching music, so that helps her push past her sadness and look forward to the day the boys can go to school with her. She must put on a brave happy face, keep Briar fired up about playing with friends, say goodbye with a smile on her face, kiss Asher goodbye and forge on to school, breast pump in hand.
For all the parents taking their first day of school pictures, this day puts last year, one more year further in the rear view mirror, and looking at their growth is bittersweet. In black and white we can see how fast they grow and change, and how fast the years are flying by! Looking forward to new teachers and new experiences but theres still a little fear of the unknown, mixed with the knowledge that life is now officially on fast forward for one more year.
Some hind sight suggestions I have are: first of all, try not to over think it like I did. Always try to look at the positive, knowing that life is moving as God intended. Children were given to us to nuture and guide to adulthood. Stay positive and look to the positive. Secondly, make a plan to help out at school where you can and be involved. Your kids will remember you being involved and supportive of their teacher. Teachers need more support these days than ever. The key word there is support…if you are there to fault find, save it. Being a teacher is no easy task. Be helpful. On the other hand stand up for your child when you have to (they remember that too). Third, be sure you document the year. Just a week or so ago, Brendon, my son who trudged off to school 35 years ago, and his wife had the best time looking through all the stuff I kept and documented… cute stories, pictures and clippings. It takes time but it’s totally worth it. Even if its just an accordion pleated box, save some things and jot down some funny stories. Fourth, get ready to hear some new things about your child, as they are molded into school life. Like the old saying take it in, wheat and chaff together, and take what can make your child better and blow the chaff away.
So lots of special prayers today for students, parents and teachers as they start a new year. Lets not forget the parents of special needs students too, who have so much to deal with as their child starts school. Hugs to all today!