Why I Also Celebrate the First Day of School

My unknownlast two posts were about how difficult dropping off at pre-school and college (and everything in between) can be. Today I sat to write about the somewhat well known mom ritual of celebrating, amongst ourselves, the day the kids go back to school.

For my family, summers are meant to be relaxing. Students and teachers are “off.”   Summers are laid back. No school schedules. All after-school activities are on hiatus. In my house, summer means sleeping late and staying up late – for adults and kids. It means dinners aren’t often planned until the last minute and leftover macaroni and cheese is an acceptable breakfast. It means we are almost always available for impromptu get-togethers and parties. It means everyday can be pajama day. It all sounds pretty good, no? Well, hang on a second. This can also translate into a boredom disaster. We are used to a constant buzz of activity in my house. We run from school to dance or karate or soccer. My six year old will often say, “Where are we going now?” as she jumps in the car, as she’s just used to being in the car often. The lack of routine in the summer can be too long. The truth is, I had looked forward to the down time of summer. I was ready for school to be over in June. I was ready for “laid back and chill.” And so were my daughters. Kids need that break as much as we do.   We had no family vacations planned. Lily didn’t want to go to camp and I didn’t want to get up early to take her so I didn’t fight her on it. Sam is sixteen, so she had plans of her own. The result of all of this purposeful lack of planning was a gloriously relaxing July. My cousin was in town from Florida. I was able to plan lots of family and grown up time for us. It was beautiful. Then August hit. Boredom set in. Lily was in need of stimulation and she made that painfully obvious. I arranged play dates with friends and special shopping excursions. Her sisters even took her out “Pokemon-ing.”   And while it was still very difficult for me to leave my oldest at college for her junior year, I am now I’m ready for the hustle and bustle of the new school year.

September and the start of school have always been my New Year’s Day. It’s when new schedules begin, there are new activities, new routines. It’s a chance to start positive habits with your kids and yourself. I make my resolutions at this time, not on January 1st. I don’t work outside of my home. This means that for me, September is a chance to reclaim myself. I can go to the drugstore or supermarket without having to deal with tantrums and endless negotiations about why we can’t buy things. I can go to the bathroom without having to announce where I’m going. I can watch movies and TV shows without having to worry about violence and sexual content. I can sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee, and silence. I will reconnect with myself, have quiet conversations in my head, and not have to write these blogs at 3am (though that’s often when I get my best ideas).

Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy spending time with my kids. I look forward to hearing about their day and the questions that spark interesting dinner conversations. But everything has its limits. I’m ready for some me time. My children no longer cry when I pull into the school parking lot, which helps a lot for a mom like me.   They are happy and eager to get back to school and their friends. I take that back, my sixteen year old is hardly “eager” to get back to school, but I’m pretty sure she’s no longer scared. This makes the first day drop off a lot easier on the heart, although I still cried.

So this morning I sat in a restaurant with some of my other mom friends, and had a grown up breakfast where I didn’t have to cut anyone’s food for them, and I sipped a delicious mimosa. I celebrated my New Year’s Day. I celebrated another year on my motherhood journey with my children. And most importantly, I did something that I don’t do very often, something that I’m super grateful to have the luxury of doing.  I celebrated ME.

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