I know I could write a positive, uplifting post about the first day of school, full of hopes and aspirations for the upcoming school year. I could say things about how proud I am of the boys they're becoming. About how fast the years have gone and how excited I am to see them grow and develop. About all the things they're going to learn and experience this year. But what I really want to do is sit and cry and scream, "I don't WANT them to go to schooooooool!!!!" Since I don't officially have a 2 year old in the house right now, I will gladly fill in for the moment and lay kicking and screaming and wailing on the floor "I HATE SCHOOL!!!!!!"
Okay.. That feels better. But back to my almost 30 year old self isn't much better.. I still hate back to school. I love them being home all summer. I love the carefree, laid back unstructured days. I love the generous family time, the memories of camping and fishing and swimming that we made. I don't want them to end.
I think the big reason I struggle with back to school so much is that instead of seeing it as
I see it as "The last days of summer." I know that this summer, with my kids being this age will never come again. Never again will I have 8 and 6 year old boys, a 3 year old girl and a 1 year old baby. Never again will they play together the same as this summer. Never again will they ride their bikes the same or swing the same or play in the tree house the same. It's over. Next summer will be different. There might be some things that are better. There might be some things that are harder. But one thing is for sure. This particular summer will never come again. Ever. That's really hard for me.
I remember reading once that we celebrate so many '1st' milestones. First foods, first steps, first words, first day of school, but there are so many 'lasts' that we don't celebrate, simply because we don't realize they're the last. Like that toddler book that you feel like you've read 100 bagillion times. Someday you'll discover it hidden under a pile of books and wonder how long it's been since you read it. You'll realize it's been years. When was the 'last' time you read it? If you had realized it was the last time would you have read it differently? With more voices and enthusiasm instead of merely reciting the lines from memory with your eyes shut? What about the 'last' time you rocked your baby to sleep? The 'last' time you sang them a good night song? The 'last' time you woke up to a midnight feeding? When will be the 'last' time you push them in a swing? If you knew it was the last would you push a little higher? Give a few more under-dogs? When will be the 'last' time they cuddle up in your lap and tell you they love you? I guarantee when these boys are in high school they probably won't be sitting on my lap, so when will the last time they do that be? Will I know it's the last time? Probably not.
This 'last days of summer' is the one thing I know is the 'last' of. A new school year brings so many changes and before I know it they'll be yet another year older again. I know I can't spend my days wondering when every hug, every book, every thing will be their last. I know it's a good thing we don't know the lasts of everything. My heart already broke into a million tiny pieces this morning when I had to drop my kiddos off at school. I just couldn't go through life if it had to break like that every day.
Last night as I snuggled with the boys on the couch we finished reading the last page of Little House in the Big Woods. In it, Laura is listening to Pa play the fiddle and sing about the days of long ago, and she thinks to herself that "This is now." She realizes that "They could not be forgotten. Because now is now. It can never be a long time ago."
So as sad as I am to send them off the school, as much as I want to throw a giant tantrum and keep them small and hold them close to me forever, I know I can't. I know it's not possible to know when the lasts of things will be. And I can't spend my life wishing for days gone by.
This is now. And it's a pretty darn good now.
I hear my boys getting off the bus. I'm off to spend some 'now' with them. :)