The angle of light is changing. The scent and temperature of the morning breeze is cooler, even as mid-day is still summer-sweltering. The shift of seasons has begun.
Nature’s markers will always remain my signposts to autumn. But this is my last year of back-to-school rituals. Molly is a senior in high school. Of course next year we will launch into new ‘back-to’ routine for her college years, but this year is the last of 18 years of participation. And now, it every task feels poignant.
Molly plays sports, is in the play, in the orchestra, in the choral group. She’s busy and that means, I am too. What food, what supplies, what rides does she need? What game, show, concert is scheduled? What money must she raise? (meaning: what check do I need to write) I confess, I have never felt like I was very good at this stuff. It’s hard to be when working a full-time job and single-parenting. In years past, I sometimes have been grumpy about what was required of me. Often I have felt like a failure compared to other parents who are (bless them) gung-ho volunteers.
Molly is a different kid than I was. She’s at the liveliest table at the cafeteria, Honor Society — all that. I am proud of her and am grateful she’s not the kid sneaking out to smoke behind the bleachers. I was a good-enough student. I worked on the literary magazine and back-stage on a play or two. But I was more inclined to sit by myself with a book at lunch, maybe hang around the art room and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the school colors. I never, ever went to a school football game. And funny enough, I still feel a little bit this way as a parent — sometimes like an alien amongst the gossiping moms on the field-hockey sideline.
Yet I will miss it all. This way of measuring time, the schedule of a school year will no longer be mine to participate in. Not as much. I will miss being part of it, there to cheer her as she runs her heart out at a game, will miss hosting the mob of teammates for the requisite pasta party at our too-small house. I will even miss the desperate, last-minute rushing to buy the right shirt she needs for a concert or shoes for some dance or other. I will miss packing her brown bag lunch. The day-to-day stuff.
The morning I dropped Molly off at her first day of kindergarten she practically waved me out of the classroom so she could get on with comforting the less-happy classmates howling for their parents. Driving away from her elementary school that day, I was the one who wept. It felt then, that she was somehow less mine. In fact, she was. That first day of school, she blissfully launched into becoming herself. And her bliss and joy at school, continues. I vow that in this last year, I will be better at my part in it all. It’s time to really savor the moments I get to share.