Our family takes a trip to the coast of Maine every year right before the kids go back to school. For me, this week always signifies the close of a chapter, the initiation of moving into a time of transition.
In these waning days of August, we turn our backs on long summer evenings, less rigorous schedules and prepare for a new year ahead; one that is much more significant than any New Year’s Eve that I can remember. Mornings and evenings are more structured, there is less time for family, less time for relaxing. Everything is new and demanding, for both the children and us: classrooms, teachers, classmates, routines, schedules, extracurriculars.
This year I have been hit harder with this bittersweet transitionary period. My baby is heading to preschool. She will stand with her sisters in the obligatory back-to-school photos but this time she will be holding her own little back pack, most likely smiling and looking sideways rather than at the camera as she is prone to do. I will leave her at school, rather than hold her in my arms, smiling and waving as her sisters disappear onto buses and through school doors. I will drive away alone, and my heart aches for those ordinary moments that you don’t notice at the time, and don’t miss until they’re a memory.
Over the last week or so I have read a number of different posts about how the back-to-school transition affects our children: today, they will not be the same as tomorrow; they will be shaped by the experiences and education, the interactions and the lessons that they have over the course of this new school year; that this week, and the next couple to follow, will be fraught with exhaustion, acting out, possible sadness, and a host of emotions and behaviors while they find their way and settle into a rhythm. I took the day off from work with them today, just to spend in their company with no expectations, obligations or distractions. But I also took the day off to spend some time with me.
While it is important to focus on and nurture our children through these transitions, something that I am also focusing on is nurturing myself through this season of change. I am taking care to take some time to acknowledge this mix of bittersweet sadness and happiness and overwhelming sense that time is moving too fast. I am absorbing the moments that I can, both with my girls as they prepare to move into their new grades and also with myself, to nurture myself and take care to not get overwhelmed by the pace of change, the new routines, the schedules, and the increase in demand of my time. Whether it is taking 15 minutes to take an Epsom salt and lavender oil bath, which is how I started my week, to walk outside in the sunlight with my thoughts, to read a book, listen to a podcast or sit here and write this out, I am measuring out my empathy and including myself in the mix of those that need to be nurtured through.
For my youngest, today is the last day that she is my baby. And that is something that I need to make time to both mourn and celebrate.
If you are a mom of school-aged children, I hope that you are taking the time that you need to walk yourself through this season of change. Drop a comment and tell me how you will be nurturing yourself through.