I’m in a strange place this summer, caught between excitement and nostalgia. My only baby will start Kindergarten at the end of August. The public school world of bus schedules, room parents and milk money awaits (among other things). I have many questions. Maybe I’ll ask the veteran moms across the street to spill their pearls of wisdom. They’ve lived to tell a tale or two. Who are the kind teachers? What should I pack for lunch? How will my son know which bus to get on? Infinite scenarios pop into my head as I count down the days.
This strange place can be a lonely boat to row. Every experience of motherhood comes only once for me. There will never be another first or last of this exact moment. Each one exists and then is gone, never to be lived again. I don’t get to do anything all over.
Cue the nostalgia…
I don’t remember much about the last five blurry years, but I’ve never forgotten how I felt on the morning of September 1, 2014. That was my first day back at work after maternity leave and the first childcare drop off. Into the hands of strangers he went. I cowered behind my desk the rest of the day and emptied every tissue box within reach. Was I sad because I missed him? Absolutely. But, more than that, I knew we were at the beginning of a long road ahead. Paying small fortunes each month, various childhood plagues, the constant circus of drop offs and pick-ups mixed with stages of separation anxiety. He was so small in such big rooms.
I like to think we survived all these years thanks to a few very special teachers. They know who they are. Now at the end of it, I can honestly say there are things I will miss.
So, what is there to be excited about?
Newly sharpened pencils. Fresh boxes of crayons. It’s the little things that I try to focus on. I declined the pre-ordered box of school supplies. I have one chance to do this. I’m going to take my time in the art supply aisle (I’m not sorry). I’ll linger over backpacks and room temperature sandwich options for as long as I please. We will practice putting on shoes and zipping up zippers. It will all be fabulous, won’t it?
I have a picture in my mind of my son crossing the street to catch the morning bus on his first day of school, his smile as wide as the sky. Parents are taking photos and waiving. It’s a moment in our suburbia that happens every year, one I’ve only seen from this side of my living room window. In a month, that moment will be our moment, small as it may seem in the course of a life. If you see me there and this is your second, third, or fourth (or more!) Kindergartener, please be kind. Lie to me if you must.
Once the bus drives away, I can’t promise the nostalgia won’t take over my sensibilities. I hope my son makes a friend or two. I hope there will be a large box of Kleenex at my desk. Above all, I hope the hours move quickly so he can come home and tell me all about his day. This moment that will never come again…I want to savor every word.
This is a guest post written by Sharon Penna. Sharon grew up in Simsbury, CT and graduated from the University of Hartford with a degree in languages. She now writes internal communications for an insurance company and lives in Avon with her family. Descended from a long line of hard-working mothers, she should have all the answers, but (sadly) does not.