I am not sure how it happened but somewhere along the way, I realized that beginning a new school year causes me to look at my children in a way that trumps other touchstones, including their birthdays. To launch from the lazy, hazy days of summer into a brand new grade, causes this momma to stand still a moment and watch. And truth be told, that watching often happens from behind unfallen tears. Beautiful days of bittersweet, it seems...
Yes, we are back to school. Summer has officially closed and lunchboxes are packed and new schedules litter my dining room table. My four babies are off to brand new worlds and brand new teachers and almost overnight, they each are growing up.
Elizabeth began second grade and while we know the teacher well (all the boys had her as too), it will be a different walk for our sweet girl. She will learn to love reading in that room and will make new friends and all of it makes me realize how big she has become. Our baby girl is learning to do so many new things.
Josiah started third grade and this year always holds a weight for me. It is a year of transition, a year of development and I know that the sweet, snuggly boy who has been right by my side for his whole life is beginning a new journey of independence. So much happens in this year... the last year of the younger grades... And to make the transition even more powerful, the first day of school was also Josiah's 9th birthday. I still have him and miss him nonetheless.
Benjamin began 7th grade and his first year of middle school without Noah nearby. This holds blessings for him but is a strange thought, too. He will play soccer without Noah, run cross-country without Noah, start track, try out for the play and do so many things that they did side by side last year. His (and our) feelings are mixed. It is is nice to have your own space but it sure was amazing to see them doing so many amazing things together.
And then... perhaps the biggest transition of all... Noah started his freshman year. I am quite sure that no birthday he has ever celebrated has grown him so quickly as walking through the high school doors. He is playing soccer for his school and taking amazing classes and all of it makes me smile and swell with pride. He talks with us about history and college and teammates and friends and lessons and... well... my first born baby is really, really growing up.
Now the house has fallen quiet and the dog and I wait for the end of each day when they all come home and we collapse together at the dinner table to share our stories and experiences and questions together. And much like you, I find my quiet is haunted with happy memories of summer and childhood and sprinklers and stories that make me smile with a lump in my throat. Because all that they are and were swirls here in the silence... all that I know of my four sweet kids is real and present and treasured today. And as the new school year begins, we will find ourselves discovering new things and my babies will keep growing and I will keep wondering where all the time has gone.
Maybe that is a little bitter-sweet. But my eyes are on the latter...