Friday, August 21, 2020

A New Ending and A New Beginning

All of these feet under one blanket. Some of these feet have been together for nine summers. Nine. That number rings in my head often these days. Usually at this time of year, I'd be talking about how these days are fleeting. I'd be having a hard time saying goodbye to the end of summer and the quieter days ahead. There would be a sense of loss. I'd also be looking forward to having a few days all to myself, as a reward for getting through the summer chaos.

Like many things, this back to school year looks different. For starters, we still have a few more weeks of summer vacation left. For years I've wished for a longer summer, more time to do things. The irony is not lost on me that this wish came true in a weird way. Many of these feet under this blanket are staying with me this school year. 

I remember when each of these feet left daycare for school for the very first time. This year is a first for everyone: school at daycare. All of these feet that I tell good-bye to at the end of each August, won't be like every other summer. Some I'll see in a few week's time, other's I will have every day, other's I won't get to see for a very long time due to stupid (I know they're necessary, but I still think they're stupid) Covid policies. I'll begin a new role, a new daycare in some ways.

This year has taken me to places I never thought I'd be. From new fears, new concerns, to being a working full time homeschool mom, to creating school rooms in my house, to the middle of hurricanes in Iowa, to the shores of Lake Superior, to teaching cooking classes in my kitchen. This year hasn't been perfect. It's been far from it. But it's also given me exactly what I have often wished for: more time. More time to explore, more free time, more time for projects, more time with the kids, more time to get things done. For once time is on my side.

I know one thing for certain right now: this is the first summer in a long time that I don't feel sadness for the summer ending. This IS the first summer I feel uncertainy towards it. The kids themselves don't know how to feel about the upcoming school year. I can usually tell them when I'll see them again or ease their fears by telling them about school and all of the fun they'll have. Neither of these are options at the moment. The only thing I've been able to do this year is listen to their fears, tell them it will be okay, and hug them like I did when these feet were teeny tiny. I honestly am at a loss of how to comfort them when I too am uncertain of how the school year will be. I find myself listening and comforting, rather than helping them. That has not been easy for me this week, as I have always helped them through their feelings.

Maybe the end of summer feelings will hit me after Labor Day, when school begins and the house is transformed to hold both daycare and school. Maybe it will be like the end of this school year, that our homeschool days just kind of rolled into summer vacation easily. Maybe I'll be so busy trying to find our new day-to-day that I won't have time to feel it. Maybe I'll process all of everything when it's all over. Fall and spring/beginning of summer, bring new changes each year. That aspect of this year is no different. The summer is still ending, but it's a new ending. The fall is still beginning, but it's a new beginning of a different school year. 

Until ALL of these feet are together again, I will miss those that aren't here and I will cherish the unexpected feet that will continue to be with me past summer vacation. This is unlike any other back to school post I've written before. I'm missing back-to-school nights and the traditional excitement around the new school year. At the same time, I'm cherishing all of the new things I am forced to try and the excitement that can bring for all. I'm missing the me-days I give myself the first few days of school. Last year I drank mimosas after the first day of school drop offs. This year I'll likely pour myself two cups of coffee on my first day as "teacher." Nothing about this school year is typical, including any of our feelings towards it. 

Game changer email sent at the end of the day on Friday. The day we decided to homeschool our children for this school year, with two full time working parents. Shit could get real.