Monday, August 15, 2011

something new

there has never been a first day of school that i haven't been excited about.  i mean it.  i am kind of nerdy that way.  i can remember the jitters and butterflies and eagerness of my elementary years like it was yesterday - lunch boxes, sharpened pencils, a clean book bag and maybe even a new hairstyle.  i remember high school - the amount of time it took selecting exactly what i would wear on the occasion of this all important day...the ridiculous amounts of time applying eyeliner and lipgloss.  lying in bed on the last night of summer, my head too full of thoughts and hopes, my stomach too full of nerves.  even as a small child i understood fresh starts and fell in love with the idea of new beginnings.

as a high school teacher, it was much the same.  how amazed i was to find that even the teacher got a good case of the butterflies.  even the teacher would lie in bed the night before restless with excitement.   i tried to pretend i was cool.  but i never was.  i couldn't wait to see the 120 different students who would saunter into my classroom.  period after period they came.  some strangely suave and sophisticated, but most awkward and gangly and unsure.  and i loved them all - at least for a while... at least on the first day of school.  i wanted to take each student by the shoulders, look them hard in the eyes and conjure up for them the wild adventure of this new school year.  of course i would have been fired by 5th period if i had actually carried out this plan.  so i refrained from any shoulder grabbing and did my best to grab their attention (safely) from the front of the room, reading or handing out quotes...
"twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  so throw off the bowlines.  sail away from the harbor.  catch the trade winds in your sails.  
explore. dream. discover." ~ mark twain
we were off on an adventure together.  we were beginning anew.  what came before was gone.  it didn't matter what the report card said back in june, we were starting fresh in august.  clean blackboard. clean kids. clean slate.

motherhood has brought just as much enthusiasm for the first day of school.   one by one, i have watched my children traipse off into the world of academics.  four of the five are now fully engaged in education.  over the years i have shared their excitement on the eve of a first day -  shared the fears and flutters too.  of course motherhood has also brought some of the back to school bittersweet -  it always does.  first day of kindergarten.  first day of high school.  that kind of thing.  always wondering how can it be? how did this happen?  year after year i have watched them leave their summers behind.  i have watched them trade bare feet for tennis shoes and bathing suits for uniforms.  i photograph their faces in attempt to capture them ...memorize them...pause them.

this year, i rolled into town at midnight.  my children already soundly sleeping.  i missed the last minute preparations for school's first day - leaving all of that to the capable hands of my husband.  bella and i had traveled to ohio for my mother's 70th birthday.  but even at that midnight hour, i climbed into bed and lay their with building excitement for the next day. my children would begin something new.  our family had never before had this combination of 10th grader-8th grader-6th grader-3rd grader-and one still at home.  this was a new year.  a new beginning for us, for our family.   and as i pondered the wonder of it all...(yes, pondered), i was struck with how this new school year brought even more cause for celebration.

we had ended last year at such a different place.  a hard place.  their final week of school was marked with my surgery.  that week was a blur for all of us.  by the time the year actually ended, we were all numb and worn out and just plain thankful it was over.  our family barely crawled to the finish line.  lockers and desks were emptied and backpacks came home and heaved into closets.  everything put away.  everything shrugged off.  the children had a mother in pain and a lot of questions and fears and we were desperate for summer,  hungry for healing.  we all wanted to move on and away from our madness of may.

but we did.  we moved on.  though we seemed to limp out of the last month, june and july brought good news and strength and hope and health.  and this august we begin strong.  again.  we begin ready for adventure.  arms open to the wild ride of right now.  i walked my children into their classrooms this morning,  pushing bella in a stroller and snapping pictures.  and at goodbye i wrapped my healing body around each one of them whispering words of encouragement.  it was normal.  we felt new.  and we were starting over.  Lord, will you allow us to live in the present?  will you help us not forget the blessing of beginnings? will you keep us thankful for fresh?  humble? close to your heart?  everything new.  how easy it could be to just go through the motions, but i want to remember.  i want to take my five children by their shoulders and conjure up the wild adventure of the right now, of this very moment.

so summer is over.  it will not be a season quickly forgotten.  all of us are a little changed.  a little taller.  a little wiser.  a little rested.  a little sun burnt.  a little excited. a little altered. 

and all of us, a little ready...for something new.

"for I am about to do something new.  see, I have already begun! 
 do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. 
 I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."  ~ isaiah 43:19


Simply LKJ said...

Praying they each have a wonderful first day! And, Amen to new beginnings.

Aus said...

You have a gift for articulating things that we take for granted - thank you for that! We're still a couple weeks off on the first day of school, we still have two wedding receptions to have - and will add an exchange student from Korea to the family before school starts - and with all of that - we still are enjoying the preperation for that day...thanks for reminding us to take the time to enjoy that!

hugs - aus and co.