As we enter back-to-school season here, with all three of my kids savoring the last minutes of summer before entering their brand new classrooms with their brand new teachers, I can’t help but be nostalgic about my first back-to-school day as a parent.
Because you see, eight years ago, my firstborn (who starts eighth grade this month) started kindergarten.
When that big yellow school bus turned the corner, she was literally jumping with joy. She climbed aboard, posed for a quick picture, and then was off. OFF!
It took all of two minutes from the time we arrived at the bus stop. I barely got the pictures I wanted! And I was so emotional that I was rendered speechless. A big piece of my heart rounded the curve ahead and simply drove away!
We’d had a celebration for her that morning – a homemade card, the special pancake breakfast she requested, a thousand family pictures as we sent her off. We had a little parade to the bus stop – the five of us plus my parents – complete with neighbors waving and wishing her good luck as they watered their lawns or walked their dogs.
Afterwards, my 3-year old was devastated that he couldn’t ride the bus. So, my parents took him to the park as a consolation prize, leaving my husband and I home alone for a bit with the newborn and our thoughts.
I cried. Then I laughed. Then I cried some more. We talked about the day we brought her home from the hospital, and what it was like on her first day of preschool, and how we’d likely feel at her high school graduation, or on her wedding day. We hugged each other…we looked at pictures from the morning…we laughed a little more and cried a little more.
I wasn’t actually SAD that she started kindergarten – in fact, I was thrilled for her! I loved school and knew that she would have every bit as good of an experience as I had. And by the way, I was right – she has! She has loved school ever since, and even shared with me that she was ready to go back early this year.
It’s exciting to have new adventures to look forward to.
But why is there so much emotion with kindergarten?
Because it’s a milestone.
And so as parents, we pause, and dedicate time to honoring it.
We’re good at this with our kids, aren’t we? Birthdays are a BIG DEAL. Losing a tooth. Starting school. Riding a bike. We cheer and celebrate and hug and high five. There are presents! And cake! And cards! A special meal, a new outfit, whatever the rituals are, THERE ARE RITUALS.
We could all learn a thing or two about properly honoring our own milestones. Because sadly, somewhere along life’s journey, we seem to stop doing it.
We say things like “We don’t have to go out to dinner on our anniversary this year – we have something else going on.” Or “Don’t buy me a birthday gift, we just got the new washer and dryer.” Or “It’s just a promotion for heaven’s sake – don’t make such a big deal out if it.”
We let the milestones slip by until life is just one big blur of soccer games and chicken dinners and trips to Target.
Life. Is supposed to be punctuated. By milestones.
So when they occur, let’s remember to pause, collect ourselves, and honor them. Buy the gift. Make the cake. Have the special dinner. Raise a glass. And most importantly, hug, cry, or laugh with the ones you love. Because these are the moments you’ll remember. These are your milestones along life’s journey. Stop at them and rest a while. And then get back on the road.
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