Monday, August 17, 2015

A Toast for Mothers on the First Day of School

Here's to you, mothers of kindergarteners who are sending their first-borns off to school for the very first time. May you have a next-door neighbor who is also sending her children off to school except that these twins are her third and fourth children to make this transition and she will now have mornings all to herself from now on. "Are you CRYING?" she will ask as she laughs and laughs. Do not punch her, because she is the best neighbor in the world, and she doesn't realize how very hard it is to leave your earnest, bookish child with all these strangers.

Here's to you, too, mothers of the fourth-born who is going off to kindergarten for the first time and who is grinning broadly in the annual on-the-steps photo, the better to show off the missing front teeth. The house is going to feel different now, even if you had taken an out-of-the-home job a year before and he had been spending mornings at Debbie's house. Having four school-agers puts you in a new and uncharted demographic.

Here's to you, mothers of the students in four different schools, as you navigate the backpack debris and drop-off lines four times every. single. day. On one of those days you will win the radio's call-in trivia contest and it will be the most exciting thing that has ever happened to your children. It's true that you will remember the stress of those mornings, but you also will remember the answer to that trivia question two decades later. (Fred Flintstone.)

Here's to you, mothers of students who are taking their own cars to school because learning to drive in the bumper-car arena of the high school parking lot is a rite of passage that can't be skipped. It puts Vanuatu land diving and other masculine rites of passage into perspective, even as you are putting your insurance agent's number on speed dial.

And here's to you, mothers who are driving long distances to drop your children off at college. Pay no attention to any other mother's experience in this realm. The one who wailed the entire four hours home and the one who shed nary a tear? They are the outliers. You probably will be somewhere between those extremes, and all of those mothers have survived to counsel the mothers who came after them, whether those ensuing college-dropper-offers were seeking counsel or not.

One of these days, all of you mothers of school children, you will be done with the first day of school. And because I am one of those who will offer counsel whether or not it is sought, I will leave you with what I learned from dozens and dozens of those annual events:

Julian of Norwich was right--

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.


  1. Thanks. I needed this today. Happy to report I saved the ugly cry (1ST GRADE!!) until I got home from drop off. That's a win in my book.

    1. You're a stronger woman than I! Absolutely a win.

  2. And the house is so quiet now....and after five years I am finally getting used to it. Quiet can be nice, also.

  3. I think it was so hard for me since I cherished the summer moments with them and gated to see them go back to school. ..but I do laugh each time I think of the 1996 Staples commercial playing It's the most wonderful time of the year as parents are happy and kids are not so happy!