I have random memories from first days of school.
I suppose that’s true for many people.
One positive one is cutting grass the night before. Back then, ABC or some such station had Monday Night Baseball and I wanted to watch the Dodgers play with my mom.
She loved Tommy Lasorda, him being Italian sealed that deal.
I also remember the night before sixth grade. I was going to a new school. I wasn’t sure what to think. It was pretty much a train wreck. I hated that year.
Probably at least some of that angst was just normal middle school stuff.
But today my oldest daughter started sixth grade.
I almost always get a little down when we start the back to school ramp up. I like having my kids home. I like the freedom they (and I have) to visit the office and stay up late swimming.
I know education is a necessity (the grammatical errors that are sure to run through this post aside), but there is a lot of school systems that I don’t truly understand.
I’m also a pretty optimistic person. I hardly ever get too down, nor do I get grumpy for an entire day too often.
But yesterday I was grumpy.
And today as I drove away from the school where I had just dropped my daughter off for her first day, I fought back tears.
I woke up at 5:15 and didn’t fall back asleep this morning.
This caused me to what my family jokingly refers to as “therapize” myself. That is to say, I started to deconstruct my feelings so I could better understand them and process them.
I think there are a couple of things going on. For whatever reason, the loss of my mom has been really poignant this week.
But of course, there is more.
I think my daughter starting sixth grade has caused me to relive some of that and worry for her.
I mean, isn’t that the heart of parenting?
We don’t want our kids to suffer as we did.
We don’t want our kids to face the same bullies we faced.
We don’t want them to feel the searing hot pain of being misunderstood or outright rejected.
My daughter is so excited for middle school. She had a year, where a bully targeted her because my daughter had success at a project that the bully did not experience.
My daughter is a lot like me. She enjoys discussions about deep and random things.
I haven’t told her about my own troubles because the time isn’t right yet. Some day I will tell her all of it.
For now, I will hold my breath and hope. I will hope that her sixth grade year is better than mine was all those years ago. If it is not, we’ll deal with that as a family.
I will hope that her infectious desire to learn and process things will blossom through this year.
I will hope that I lead her well by walking beside her and her sisters as they traverse this next chapter of life. For some reason, the younger grades don’t seem to get to me as much.
I will also grieve.
I love being a dad. Seriously, besides getting married, it is absolutely the best thing I have ever done. And my kids are growing up. They are moving through the stages and its wonderful.
Years ago someone told me that all change is loss. I believed him then and I believe him now. We tend to think that grief is inherently bad. I disagree with that sentiment. Grief simply exists. It's a reminder that we are all growing and dying. It is a reminder that life is too short and time is too fast. It is a reminder of all that we've loved and all that we've lost.
So to you, my friend, I say wherever you are right now on the kids spectrum. May you find contentment and peace. May you find the courage to process your own stuff that having (or not having) kids brings up in you. May you find the next step while enjoying the current one.