I think all mothers everywhere can agree that we get to celebrate a 2nd New Years Day each year. It usually arrives in August and is decorated with stacks of wide ruled paper, bright new boxes of washable Crayola crayons, new white socks, pencil eraser caps and all the fun of starting a new school year.
I was tickled pink to discover that this year's official school supply list was rather simple in comparison with the two full page list ($150) of Kindergarten items for Bella's school last year. Won't even tell you how much time was invested in tracking down every item last year, but this year I actually whipped through Wally World in under 30 minutes. One item in major demand this year seems to be dry erase markers.. 16 or so were required on her list.. which hovered on my brain as we fought parking lot traffic trying to head out with our goodies. What a clean and pretty thought to imagine my life as one giant white board with clusters of colorful drawings to depict the sunny and stormy phases of my life. What would life be like if we could just wipe away the unwanted smudges or seemingly impossible math problems we had somehow struggled through? What if when we didn't like the way things were going and we could just wipe the board off and start over? Would God want me to erase any of it or should I be writing it all with Bella's favorite writing tool.. the ultra permanent sharpie marker?
I look at the last 6 years since having our children and I think how much of it I want to lock up in a vault and preserve forever. How every little handprint sent home from preschool became most treasured belongings. Every first milestone brought such joy and excitement. Every smile an imprint on my heart. But the last year and a half have been harder and the pretty and wonderful parts have often been crowded around splotches of dark stuff. There are ugly scars there that I would like to wipe away sometimes. But then I think about how those harder parts, the messier areas of my white board, are actually what has made the sunnier parts and the big new developments of life all the richer. I felt this all too well as I walked Bella into her new First Grade classroom on the first day of school this week.
I was ever so thankful for God's help juggling everyone into a working, well oiled machine that morning. The girls were dressed by 6:15, homemade nutritious breakfast waiting to fill them with energy for the busy, full day that awaited them. The nurse also had a little one starting school so we arranged ahead that she would come a bit late after getting him off to school. This meant Jason would hang behind with Sam while I packed up Bella and Sofia into our van and off to their various schools. Bella was a bit nervous as all the girls she knew well from Kindergarten were in another class. I know she will love this new teacher and make friends in no time, but it hurt just the same to see her furrowed brow. But in true Bella style, her bubbly personality came through and the nervousness subsided when she saw the crowds of other kids entering school. By the time we made it down to her new class, she was chatting with the teachers in the hall and pointing out all the exciting things that she could not wait to do between those walls. She did not even turn to wave goodbye as she sailed into her new class, only pausing to give the new teacher a high five. I can't believe how grown up she is now! I stood back and tried to appreciate the moment. My baby does not need me as much as she once did.
I spotted many mothers crying as they left the building and I thought how I was there last year, but somehow have graduated to a different mental place. Now, I look at this day as a fresh start for everyone, a return to some routine for our household coupled with the endless possibilities and excitement of all that lies ahead. I think I have craved the quiet that happens when they leave in the morning. With the nursing in place, I hope to now have time and energy to meet my own goals for supporting Jason's business and still managing the "mom" and "wife" stuff.
Sofia was next to start class that morning and I did feel a bit more sentimental about her first day. This is the first time she will be gone a full 5 days a week. She has a wonderful VPK 4 teacher who was Isabella's teacher the year Sam was born. She lives right down the street and is the perfect mixture of educator and nurturer. Sofie's two closest friends share her class as well so I know the girls will have a great year!
As I drove on home, I reflected on all the summer memories we made this year. We went to the beach, swam in our pool, had fun playdates with friends.. even discovered we were expecting a new life.
Amidst all that, we found time to turn our Atlanta trip for Sam's medical appointments into a family vacation. And although there were some bouts of medical challenges for Sammy, he made enormous progress this summer! Overall, it was a nice summer for everyone. Those harder experiences are not going to mar my white board of summer memories. We came through okay and my guess is that God would not have us forget these hard times as they are what reminds us of how blessed we really are. I do selfishly want to erase anything difficult from life... but erasing it might mean we are less thankful, less hopeful and less willing or able to handle the next scribble scrabble that awaits us in this crazy life. For now I am justing working to move forward and enjoy every day.
In my prayers right now are a family that has just found out the dad has cancer and a friend who just suffered a heart attack and stint surgery.
I am also praising the marriage of a friend from highschool, who found love with someone I know will make him very happy. At the wedding, we had the privledge of sitting with several other highschool friends and it had been years since we had seen one of the couples. Since that time they have had 2 precious sons and endured some major, lifechanging challenges themselves. The wife had a kidney transplant this year and is in recovery with hopes that there are no complications or setbacks. We will have her and their whole family in our prayers with the onset of the cold and flu season, knowing the risks it poses to her health. God certainly places people in our path that can teach us and show us great faith and strength. I am thankful for all the friends God has brought into our path.