If summer is about the wide embrace of warmth and wandering at will, the school year keeps freedoms of its own. The first day reveals a brand-new stage where unseen possibilities begin to dance. It is a time to let go, fraught with questions and the promise of discovery. Who will we become? Where will we go?
As our children wander back into their classrooms, they wonder. We parents wonder too.
My two launched their return to student life last week. It kicked up one of those dual-states of parenthood: welcoming the sweet regularity of routine; mourning summer’s ease as it slips away. Parenthood is about dual-states, a constant embracing and letting go. In the moment, they seem like contradictions. Time shows them in relief—a blended harmony, rich and complex.
At an all-school chapel on the first day, my son gave me a confident wave from across the sanctuary before he strode out of sight. He’s in his last year of grammar school. Hugs, holding my hand—these are best kept for non-school hours. He doesn’t need to say it. It’s a subtext I know to be true.
My daughter, a second-grader, fell into the familiar laughter and knowing glances she shares only with schoolmates. She didn’t cry for me like she did last year. It was a relief. And a reminder that she too is finding her own way.
The day will come when finding their own way will mean leaving home. I know it’ll be here sooner than I think. So I strive to soak up these salad days, remembering that their dad and I are their anchors. Each day is our chance to let them drift far enough to gain valuable experiences—without being dragged down by life’s unsavory undercurrents.
The doing of it is always difficult. And it’s always worth it.