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Back to School: Letting Go & Savoring the Now

Back to School time brings on all the mom feelings. I’m thankful for the return to a predictable routine, but sad to let go of freedom of summer. I am glad to have a few moments of quiet, yet I will miss my kids and the noise they create when they’re gone. It’s not their birthdays that get me -it’s back to school. That’s when I see how much they’ve grown. It’s always been this way for me and when I see the social media posts of all my friends, I know I’m not alone. Somehow when we take those first day of school photos, we are reminded of how fast they are growing up. 

This year my oldest is headed to middle school and this is making me extra aware that time seems to be moving at warp speed.  Before I know it, he will be headed to high school; and then he’ll be off to college. As I look at him, I sometimes still see the adorable four year old who used to stand in front of the karaoke machine singing Beatles all the time; other times I see a brave eleven year old heading off to this journey called middle school where I am not as needed as I used to be. As I fight the urge to reach out and hold his hand, fix his hair or whatever it takes to hold onto his innocence just a little longer, I am reminded of a promise I made to myself on the day he started kindergarten.

I was surrounded by sentiments of wanting time to slow down or stop. People all around me were jokingly asking their kids if they could just stay little or stop growing so they, as their parents, could hold on to childhood and simplicity just a little longer. At the same time, I was keenly aware that for far too many moms and dads, time does just that, it slows to a numbing crawl or stops all together.  These parents are cheated of the chance to see what would come next for their child. 

With this in mind, knowing that I was in fact lucky to witness my child grow, I promised myself that I would never wish for time to stand still or even slow down. Instead I would strive to savor each milestone in life, and look forward to seeing who he will grow into next. I will rejoice that I get the amazing opportunity to see my little boy grow up right before my eyes. I will treasure the memories of the karaoke singing four year old and give thanks that I still see glimpses of my little boy in the preteen that stands before me. I look forward to learning the nuances of the young man he is growing to be, even if that means I have to let go a little more. I know I have to loosen the reigns a little more, let him make mistakes so he can learn from them and let him have the kind of freedom that leads to independence. 

They tell you about the growing pains that children have as their bodies grow rapidly but no one ever tells you about parental growing pains – the ones that we have as parents when we have to let go a little so they can grow a little. So as we say goodbye to summer and hello to a new school year and realize that our kids are a bit taller, wiser and older than they were just a few months ago, let us remember to savor each moment that we have with them and celebrate all the ways that they are growing.  Even when it means we are growing older too.  

Here’s my prayer for the changing of summer into yet another new school year.  These words help remind me of the blessings of time marching on. Maybe this prayer could be your prayer too…

Let us give thanks for the sunny days of summer.

The cookouts, late nights, extra time with friends and days by the pool.

Let us give thanks for the memories made by the beach, on the tops of mountains and on family adventures.

Summer was good to us and the school year is awaiting with new possibilities.

As we wave goodbye in the carpool line or at the bus stop, let us pray for our children.

May they be brave in the face of new challenges,

Kind to their classmates and daring enough to make a new friend.

May they be proud of their accomplishments, yet humble enough to ask for help when they need it.

May they forgive themselves when they make a mistake and offer that same forgiveness to others who do the same.

May we as their parents be brave enough to let go a little, wise enough to know when it’s time to hold on a little longer and forgiving of them (and ourselves) when one of us messes up.Give us the strength and courage to let them fail but the grace to help them back up again.

Help us to savor time rather than trying to stop it, and help us look forward rather than holding them too tight.