I woke up sad. I couldn’t figure it out until I set out on my daily routine. As I drove to the coffee shop, I passed the school zone flashing light and remembered: today’s the first day of school. For the first time—in more years than I can count—it’s a day of little significance to me. In fact if anything, it’s an inconvenience.
School zones are limiting my speed, school buses are clogging traffic, the coffee shops are more crowded with moms who just dropped kids off at school, and no doubt I’ll need to adjust to different busy times at the grocery store as well.
It’s the first time since my son started pre-school that I haven’t packed up a kid for the first day, taken a first day photo, or even dropped a kid off for college—my daughter graduated last June and moved to California. My son’s still in medical school, but he lives on his own of course, and he most definitely does not need my help getting ready for his 4:30 a.m. surgical rotation.
Sometimes I hear moms complaining about the first day of school—because summer’s over and they miss the beach and other summer activities. Other moms breathe a sigh of relief and head out to the gym or errands solo, grateful for a much-needed break from the constant companionship. I remember having years when I felt each of those emotions (although truth is I had many more when I missed my kids after they went back to school at the end of summer).
Now, as I sit in the usual coffee shop, I can’t concentrate on writing (not fiction anyway); I can’t think of much of anything but the years gone by, and to be honest I’m having trouble keeping tears at bay. I miss those first days. I miss the drop offs but especially the after school pick ups with all the stories that would pour out, the laughter, tears, teacher stories, homework complaints and even the extra-curriculars I had to rush to get my kids to after school.
After one first day—I think my son was in sixth or seventh grade—I asked him how the day went, and he told me it was great. That was the problem, he said. The first day was always great: all new and exciting. Seeing all your friends again, meeting your new teachers, checking out the new kids, seeing what the year had in store, wearing your new first day outfit (okay, that was just my daughter). The bad part, he continued, was the realization that you had to go back the next day… and the next … and the next.
And I guess maybe that’s what’s making today hardest. The next day. And the next. And the next…
How about you? How is/was the first day in your household? Do you have trouble with transitions (like I do)?