“Let me take your picture before we eat,” I said imagine chocolate smears from the muffins all down her first day of school outfit.
As I grabbed the camera (I still don’t have a cell phone), she raced to the stand in front of the flowers where her sister had stood for her first day of school picture last week.
“Only with K!” she demanded wanting her sister in there too. Then quickly she changed to, “I wanna take a selfie.”
My preschooler wanted to take a selfie.
I didn’t go to preschool, but when I was in school, I didn’t know the word selfie because it didn’t exist. When my first day of school pictures were taken, my mom took them with a camera. With film. Long after school started, when we finished the roll and remembered to drop off the film and remembered to pick it up, we got that film developed and actually saw the pictures.
These days, my kids want to see the picture practically before I take it. “Let me see. Let me see!” Digital means you know if you got a good shot or not, but there’s no waiting, no anticipation. Sometimes it feels like everything is RIGHT NOW all the time.
But last week, my big girl headed off to school on Monday and the little one turned to me as the bus pulled away. “I’m bored. There’s no one to play with.”
Despite everything feeling “on-demand,” she had to wait for more than a week for her school to start. But today was her day. She was up early and dressed in the outfit she had picked out, the one that wasn’t my favorite on the rack, but was so her, bright and bold and sassy. She was all big grins that she had the same kind of muffins her big sister had had for her first day of school.
She waved her sister off and then hurried to the car. It was her day, and she was ready to start.
Both my girls are back in school, and I’m settling back into my own routine, including writing more regularly.
Are you writing today?
Think about what’s different now than when you were a kid. Make a list or zoom in one change. How do you feel about this change?
It’s quiet in the car. The radio is off as it often is so I can hear what the kids are saying from the back seat.
There is no one in the backseat.
No buckling. No “When we home can we . . . ?” No “Is Melissa open? Can I get a donut?”
I pull my own seatbelt across me. Click.
It’s quiet. Still.
It’s not so much that I want to cry as that I am aware of the space around me. This space and quiet I’ve yearned for.
I waited so long. It went so fast.
My baby girl has been ready for this day—first day of preschool—for two years. She knows the routine: hang up backpack, wash hands and sing ABC, sign in. Today, what’s different is she gets to stay.
I squat next to her at the busy play dough table. Watch her, check out the other kids, the other moms. Ask what she’s making. I glance at the clock. It’s almost meeting time.
“Can I have a hug? I’m going to go now.”
It takes a minute for her to pull herself away from the play dough. She looks at me and lunges into one of her superhugs—arms and legs entwined around me. She lets go with one arm, presses her cheek to mine—one arm hug.
She doesn’t like hugs herself, but she has a whole repertoire to give, each tight, each heartfelt, each connected. Her hugs lift me and fill me like Henry’s smile used to.
I remember when my big girl started preschool, how I waited impatiently for the end of her day to find out how it went. I worried and wondered how she was feeling and doing in her new environment. This one, I’m not worried about. I don’t imagine her thinking about being there alone without me, the way I find myself focused on being here without her.
From now on, when I go to the market or stop for coffee after drop off, I won’t unbuckle and buckle. I won’t field requests to buy a pretzel or a donut or put money in the piggy bank for the ambulance fund. I’ll buy what I need, chat for a minute. Go back to the empty car. Drive home. Do what I need to do.
I told people it wouldn’t be all the different this year. I’m used to doing drop off and then working most of the morning.
But I’m not used to the empty car as I pull out of the school lot. I’m not used to coming into the house alone. Maybe once we settle into routine, it won’t feel so strange, but right now it feels empty, quiet, still.
I waited so long for this. It went by so fast.
Write with Me:
Have you ever had somebody say to you, “Enjoy every moment! It goes so fast”?
You hear it often while you’re up every couple hours to feed a baby or recovering from (or still dealing with) a meltdown in the grocery store. That really little stage does go fast, though it doesn’t always feel like it at the time.
Today, I started with the idea of it goes so fast. Try that or pick another cliché. How do you feel when somebody says it to you? What situation from your life does the saying apply to (or not apply to)? You might respond to the cliché, use it as a theme, give an example, or tear it apart. Write your cliché at the top of your paper—then just write what comes to you.
I love reading what you write. Share your writing in the comments, add a link to your blog, or email me at email@example.com.
Whether you have a little extra quiet, still time with the kids back in school or you’re still dreaming of it, take a little time for three days for yourself. Write What You Love starts next week. Sign up now.