Today my children begin another school year. With new clothes, new school supplies, new emotions for kids and parents.
According to my daughter the first day of school feels nervous, exciting, and scary. Parents feel first day of school emotions of an entirely different sort. Wither it be kindergarten, pre-K, elementary or high school. The start of a new year fills a parent with so many conflicting emotions it is hard to get a handle on them.
The first day is an exclamation point in time, signifying the start of another year of your child’s development. Another year in their march towards adulthood. As happy as we are to see them progress, from learning to drink from a regular cup and learn how to tell time, we are equally saddened by the lessening of there need for us in their life.
I guess I should say not say lessening, more changing. As they are learning to become more intellectually and physically independent, their need for us starts to become more emotional. They need us for guidance, confidence and reassurance. Not so much to help them get dressed, or use the potty. They need us in a different way from the need of a baby and toddler.
I asked a friend how she dealt with her adult daughter, moving to a different state. She responded that she was sad and missed her being in driving distance, but added the excitement she heard in her daughters voice as she embarked on this new adventure tempered her own sadness. What she told me is something I thought was very profound.
“This is her journey, I have to let her find her way.”
I think that is something I forgot at the start of school, something we might all forget. In our hurried preparations for the school year, and in our longing for the little baby they were, we forget our children are not there to fulfill our needs. The meaning and purpose they give to our lives is actually just a side benefit. We are there to help them on their journey. That is what the first day of school is. Another step in their journey. We are just lucky enough to be part of it.