Back to School (or Back to the Beach?)

Summer isn’t officially over. Not yet. My inner-child wants to kick and scream and remain in denial for as long as I can. I think I can reasonably pull this off for a few more weekends, and try to cram in the beach trips we didn’t get to and the pool days that real life (and Mother Nature) managed to interrupt. Granted, I have to send my daughters to pre-school this week, but I can at least pretend that fall isn’t in the air (and that Christmas isn’t about to light up the retail world too soon.)

I know I said this (Mommy’s Time Out ) and I admit I’m sick of flying insects, humidity and applying sunscreen. Still, as the last few hours of summer vacation fade into memories (and some awesome photos) I’m just not ready to be done with it. Temper tantrums and all. Okay, I can seriously do without those. But let’s be honest: there are PLENTY of hours in a day, back to school or not, for my kids to bring on the drama!

H and S are young enough to be oblivious to the change I’m resisting. They can’t wait to go to school. Since neighbors and friends have gone back over the last couple of weeks, they’ve been asking, “When do we go?” They miss their friends and music and science classes – and having something that’s all their own.

Thankfully for this overly emotional mother, I have the benefit of having sent them to school before. They’re even going back to the same place. Their new teacher was their science teacher last year. A friend they have frequent play dates with is in their class. There’s a better-than-average chance I won’t be standing outside their classroom on the first day, waiting for the tears to stop flowing so I can say goodbye. (I should have enough composure by now to make it back to my car.)

Last night while playing “Simon Says” – and in between screaming fits at the sight of bees – the girls gave me a HUGE double-hug.

“I’m gonna miss you when you go back to school!” I said, in an unexpected moment of weakness. “Who wants to stay with Mommy?”

Meanwhile, my husband stopped watering the hydrangeas and beach roses to give me a look that said, “Are you crazy? How long before THAT comes back to bite you?” But I couldn’t help myself. I made a sad face. S took my face in her hands.

“Mommy,” she said. “You’ll have lots of quiet, and there won’t be toys on the floor for you to trip on for a little while.”

“We’ll come right back, and give you lots of hugs,” H assured me.

On top of loving summer, hating winter, and sucking at change and transition, I’m awe-struck by how quickly another year has passed, by how much the girls have changed and grown up. Summer was my safety net between school years, letting me dwell on having four-year-olds before they hurry up and grow even more. This time of year is a trigger for me to look back at what I’m going to miss, instead of all we have to look forward to. It’s when I have to remind myself that we had children to raise little people, to share our world with them one stage at a time – not to have babies forever. That watching them grow is a gift.

I’m grateful to have just enough experience to know that before long, this crazy emotional business will pass (until next time.) New comforts will come (and eventually, go again.) I’ll surrender to that little part of me that’s been craving a schedule, a routine, and time on my own. I have work to do, projects to tackle – and if all else fails, two enthusiastic little girls to inspire me.

That is, if I didn’t change their minds and ruin it for all of us! Keeping my fingers crossed for that – and for all of you who are sending your babies off to school. Wishing you happiness, peace and new reasons to smile.


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