Monday, August 27, 2018

First Day of School Traditions

It’s the First Day of School. I’m not gonna lie. I’m really happy about it. Not the “getting rid of the kids” part - I like them, and I don’t see them enough as it is, now that they are so busy with sports and band and jobs and FortNite :-) But I’m looking forward to the routine. The waking up at the same time every day, going to same place, knowing what to expect every day part of school is what I’m most excited about. Summer is an ever-changing, never-the-same game that is too much for my fragile brain to keep up with. Even with a calendar on my phone and printed out and taped to the fridge, I’m still dazed and confused trying to keep it all straight. I need some consistency.

This pic is 6 years old.
They were so little!

But the start of another school year does have me getting all nostalgic. My boys are getting so old! Two in high school and the little one in middle school! The time has gone so fast! That saying that “the days are long, but the years are short” is so true. It feels like just yesterday that I thought I would never survive Aaron and Luke being toddlers at the same time. I remember telling Drew that it was going to be them or me. Someone wasn’t going to make it :-) They are 16 and 15. We all survived :-)

Do y’all have any First Day of School traditions? We have three - one I don’t mind, one I would take back if I could, and one that started out of the blue.

The one tradition I don’t mind - but the boys could do without is the obligatory first day pictures. You know the ones where you pose at the front door, usually with a sign that says what grade you are in, wearing the new backpack? My boys grumble and groan, but they know the drill. The only fun part for them is posing with me so they can see how much taller they are than the year before. The older two are much taller than I am. The little one is catching me. When they pose with Drew, they all wait until right before I snap the pic and then hop up on their tiptoes (Drew too!) to try to be the tallest in the photo. Men!

The tradition I would take back if I could is First Day of School fresh Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. This idea seemed awesome when they were in preschool. Preschool started at 9am. No one minded running to Dunkin at 8:00am to get donuts. But once they started getting on the middle school bus at 6:40 (AM!!!!!!), I really wanted out of this tradition. Of course, it was too late by then. Please learn from my mistakes! Choose your traditions carefully! Middle and high school start really, really, really early! Beware those "before school" traditions. Can I recommend you google some AFTER school ideas?

The tradition that started out of the blue happened the day that our youngest, Nathan, started full day kindergarten. I was so sure that I would be doing a happy dance when all three boys got on that bus together and drove off, leaving me to myself and my own devices for the first time in 10 years. Drew and I talked about it all summer. He was super supportive of me finally getting some time to myself. I had a million different ideas of how I would fill my time and couldn't wait to get started. Then the big day came. We did the pictures. We did the donuts. We walked to the bus stop and even took one of those “sad kids, happy mom” pictures. Then all three boys got on the bus together to go to elementary school. I watched that bus pull away and just stood there. I was frozen in a “now what?” place. In that moment, I watched as the reason I got out of bed every morning drove away. This is going to sound super dramatic, but be patient with me - I watched as my identity drove off on that bus.

All through college I was forming a plan to become a math teacher. That’s who I was going to be. Then I got married and got that job teaching math. So I was Drew’s Wife and A Math Teacher. Then the boys were born, and we decided I would stay home. After the sleep deprivation wore off, I looked up and realized that I wasn’t A Math Teacher any more. Instead, I had become A Stay At Home Mom. Ok. Let’s do this! So I did. Until they rode off in the school bus. Now what? Since I graduated from college, I had defined my identity by my job. I was what I did. Now I have no job - do I have no identity? It was a scary, sad, bizarre moment as that bus drove away.

The truth is that I had defined my identity in all the wrong ways. Who I am has nothing to do with what job I’m holding at the moment. Who I am has everything to do with who God says I am. I could go on about this for days, but I’ll sum it up and come back to it another day - God says I’m His child, blessed, chosen, adopted, favored, redeemed, forgiven, made on purpose and for a purpose - and none of these facts are based on any job. But I wasn’t holding on to who He says I am. I was holding to who I said I am. Talk about a shaky foundation! Again, lots to talk about another day. 

Anyway, as the bus drove off and I stood there completely lost and shaken, Drew realized that we had a problem and began First Day of School tradition #3 - Dawn and Drew breakfast date. He looked at me and said, “How about we go out for breakfast?” I was almost in tears at that point. I just nodded “yes”, and off we went. The day got easier from there. And the week got easier as I adjusted to my new normal. And I did a ton of soul searching that year to figure out who I was apart from my kids.

Today's FDOS
Breakfast Date
was Starbucks. 
This year, the little one will start 6th grade. Drew and I will go on our 7th First Day of School breakfast date. It’s not a necessity any more. Now it’s a wonderful chance to spend time together and pray for the boys.

If this is your first year to have all the kids go to school, I highly recommend having a plan for that first day. Call a friend, set up a coffee date, schedule a mani/pedi, something! If that first day of everyone in school is in your future, maybe my story will help you prepare for your day. If you are like me, experienced at this “all the kids are in school” thing, let’s reach out to another mom who just sent her baby off to kindergarten. Let’s ask her out for coffee or lunch. Let’s make sure those around us are ok. It can be one more First Day of School tradition.


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