The Twentieth Letter: New Seasons

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Dear Daughters,

I love changing seasons.

I love the fall’s cool breezes and crunchy leaves. I’ll take sweatshirts and jeans over shorts and tank tops any day. I don’t like to sweat.

I also really love school supplies. I mean, seriously. Notebooks. Folders. Binders with tabbies. Post-It notes. Pens. Sharpie marker pens especially. Boxes of crayons before the wrappers are all peeled off.

When I think of back-to-school season, I picture those days of crunchy leaves and waiting for the bus. Brand-new decorations in classrooms–not stained, the edges not curling. Wondering which of your friends will be in what class. Seeing the book for the first time. Meeting new people. Figuring out when I could go to my locker.

I still periodically have that can’t-remember-the-locker-combination nightmare, and it’s been over a decade since I’ve opened a locker.

I love the juxtaposition of new school years–fresh starts, new beginnings–with the season of autumn–leaves turning colors, falling off trees, the earth going to sleep for winter.

Death and new life.

There’s probably a poem in that somewhere.

In Kentucky, there is no such juxtaposition and beauty of seasons. Ya’ll go to school in the middle of summer, girls. There’s no getting around it.

Thursday, August 6, was the Bean’s first day of preschool.

I’m told this is a big deal. And I feel like I should feel like this is a big deal. PRESCHOOL! FIRST DAY! WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE? MY BABY IS GOING TO SCHOOL!

Okay, granted, it’s only 2 mornings a week, and it’s a class for 3 year olds.

But I feel pretty much nothing but gratitude that you will be away from me in an organized learning environment.

One of my friends sent her son to kindergarten this week. (And this is the first year of full-day kindergarten for our district.) It’s a tough thing for her.

It’s a tough thing for most moms.

I have this hunch I’ll be the mom secretly rejoicing on the inside.

Or not so secretly.

Part of it is my overall love of new years and new beginnings.

Part of it is that I’m just not very sentimental about these baby and toddler years when you are home with me, chattering constantly, climbing up my legs when I’m standing in the kitchen, sitting on my lap while I am looking for peace and quiet in the bathroom, for goodness’ sake.

I’ve sung this song before. It will be no surprise to you, I’m sure.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve loved watching you learn and absorb information. As one of our best friends says, kids are sponges. I am astounded every day at your capacity to learn and question and figure things out. I’ve loved painting with you and reading to you and teaching you songs and building impressive towers out of blocks.

But.

My dad once told me when I was older–at least a teenager, maybe out of the house already, I can’t remember–that he loved every stage of our growing up, and he loved “this stage” the best. Whatever stage we were in, the whole time we were growing up, that’s the one that seemed the best. I’m pretty sure he likes being Grandpa best of all, of course. But his point was that he wasn’t sentimental about the stages that had passed. He didn’t long for us to be babies again. He didn’t long for us to be dependent creatures. He raised us to be thinkers and doers.

There is hope in this thing called parenting.

Hope.

I’m a nerd, but there is something so hopeful about the beginning of the school year. It’s a new season.

Maybe I get a little bit of that hope every time I open a new notebook, buy a new rainbow pack of Sharpies, a sleeve of Post-Its.

And maybe I get a little bit of that hope every time I look at you.

Love,

Your Momma

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