You might call it a coincidence. But I’m not so sure.
Today was the first in a series of baby steps back to school this week. A 2-hour open house. Everyone’s invited, meet the teachers, make sure your paperwork is all in, tour the classrooms.
This day was a big day last year. For us. For her. So big.
This morning she chose to wear last year’s first day of school dress. I didn’t think she actually liked it, she rarely chose to wear it again after that first day. And I don’t think she remembered that this is how she started last year. I don’t think she really got the symbolism, or, at least, the symbolism to me. But I still don’t think its coincidence.
Of course it’s no longer so much a dress and she had to wear it with leggings this year as it barely covers her bum. But still, when she slung her backpack over her shoulders and walked towards the door, I was transported back 365 days.
On this day last year, all three of us slid into the car. All three of us walked up to the table and the smiling people behind it. All three of us met the teachers and looked around and tried to get a feel for this new routine, new experience, new everything.
I remember lifting her up and balancing her on my hip. Her head rested on my shoulder, her little face buried in my hair. Her knee resting against my very pregnant belly.
I remember so well, even a year later, how big and scary it felt. Sending my firstborn out into the world. To school. With new people and rules but also new magic and new wonder. I remember how precious we were about the entire thing. All of us going to the open house. Carefully preparing and talking and celebrating.
Today, M took her to the open house. I stayed home so baby boy could nap and I could catch up on some work. Tomorrow when she heads off to her first half day, I won’t be here. I won’t be here when she gets back either. Aftershocks of the chaotic summer we’ve finally exited. We haven’t prepared quite as much or talked quite as much.
We lost the precious along the way.
And I suppose that’s normal. Necessary even. We can’t treat every experience or moment, or new school year, with the same fragile, care that we did last year. After all, we have done this before now. And we have two now. The time to be precious about every little thing just isn’t there.
But I wonder if we didn’t loose more than just the precious. These days everything feels a little old hat. A little too much grind. It’s that time of year again. Back to school. Here we go.
I don’t want to loose the preciousness of those firsts. I don’t want to loose the care and tenderness with which we treated everything she did for the first three years of her life. I don’t want to let go of the thrill and the excitement. The thinking and the over-thinking. I don’t want to loose any of it. I want to live in those moments and feel it all.
I want the first days of school to be big every year. I want them to be precious. I want both my children to learn that not only is it ok to make a big deal, it is worth making time to make a big deal. So I’m cooking up some big deal plans and we’ll make up these back-to-school traditions as we go along. And we’ll make sure we don’t loose the precious.