I can smell it in the air, feel it in the breeze, see it in the sky, and hear it in the approach of each late summer evening. The late summer stage is filling up with the literal liveliness and baggage of the season. How quickly the extra luggage for school changes from a light preschool bag into a heavy backpack full of books into a car completely packed with stuff to fill a dorm room!
I have recently become a half nester. In the last several days, I have sent my two oldest kids to college, one into his junior year of high school and this morning, I sent my baby, the caboose of the family, into eighth grade. This is the seventeenth year I have stood in a school parking lot watching my kids line up with their classmates in front of their homeroom teacher before entering the school building. I know this year might go by faster than the last. Each year does. I thought maybe I would be a little sad this morning since it marked the beginning of a school year of lasts as a grade school parent.
I can be very sentimental when the strings of my mothering heart are pulled with all kinds of emotions. On the last and first days of each school year, I in many ways feel time slipping away. Today, I walked with (followed really) my son through the parking lot watching the bustle of parents sending their kids into a new school year complete with hugs, kisses, and picture taking. I felt full yet empty. I was excited for my last first day as a parent at this school but nostalgic. I wondered how my half nest will feel like at the same time practicing to be content with the unknown. As the school building filled up with the glorious noise of children from preschool through eighth grade, and before I returned to my quiet home, I reminisced about all the sendoffs I have experienced with my kids over the years.
The preschool sendoff that allowed me to finally have a few hours of free time to begin to regain my Self.
The kindergarten sendoff when I packed the first lunch box and a half day without my child turned into a long-awaited full.
The first-grade sendoff when I was at a new school which meant I was the new parent who didn’t know a soul. This also meant I knew absolutely nothing about the first day drop off procedure and literally dropped my oldest son off and drove away. Who knew? I was a first timer! Thank goodness for the principal who stood on alert for clueless parents and walked him to where he needed to be!
The middle school sendoff when my child turned from a little kid into a bigger little kid.
The eighth-grade sendoff that leaves me wondering how time passes so quickly and thinking wasn’t this child just in first-grade?
The freshman high school sendoff when I watch my child walk away looking too young in the sea of older classmen.
The new license high school sendoff that sets me into a heavy state of prayer to help deliver my child to and from school safely.
The senior year high school sendoff that is filled with many lasts, once again bringing me back to the feeling of time slipping through my fingers that once held my baby.
The first college sendoff that, along with great hope for their future, makes me pause and ask myself with a little lump in my throat, “Where did the time go?”
The college sendoffs after the first that seem to be not so hard and even drag out a bit which cause me and my child to look at each other and say, “It’s time.”
As for the sendoff that launches the empty nester phase? I'm only half way there so I'm not sure if I'll be the mother who cries, "How did this happen? What now?" Or the one who jumps for joy screaming, "Freedom!"
This morning, instead of feeling sad, I simply felt time. And paired with it was the open space to transition into a new season of life. Welcome to The Wholly Middle Blog. I hope you will join me on this beautiful ride.
Rush slowly, love, and live ~