Each summer, I pull down the family calendar and update it for the fall semester.
Using a set of colored markers, I write in school holidays, events and trips.
Tupelo High School band rehearsals and performances are marked in blue so I can track when and where the long blue line will be. Boy Scout events are listed in green. I’ve added red for Shannon High School where my husband teaches. More appointments, commitments and notices will be added as the semester goes on.
Organizing the calendar marks the beginning of school prep. It may seem extreme to lay it out more than four weeks ahead of the return to school. But I’ve found that if I wait to write in all the dates, the speed of school year commitments will overtake me.
Marking up the calendar is usually a bit bittersweet, a color-coded acknowledgement that summer and its lazy days are not endless. But this year, there’s an extra edge to the tradition.
All of these dates are the first of the lasts for my daughter. It is the last first day of school. It is the last first half-time performance. And so starts the senior year of high school.
August 2019 seemed so far away in August 2007 when we gathered school supplies and a cute backpack with her name on it as we headed to Thomas Street Elementary. The teachers and staff kindly welcomed the kids and gently shepherded the parents through the first hurdles of formal education.
Older, wiser parents told me it would go by too quickly. There were times I didn’t believe them, times I wished the school year would speed along. But they were so right, and it feels like the time warp is only speeding up.
In these last weeks before school starts, I feel like I’m ticking up to the top of the roller coaster. I’m already balancing the desire to relax and enjoy the ride with the long list of decisions and tasks that must be completed during the next 10 months.
After this time is over, I know she will pass into a new stage. I wouldn’t want to permanently rewind, but I know there are things I will miss. I’m not worried about the empty nest. After all, we still have a son to shepherd through high school. Hopefully, he will be able to deal with his parents’ undivided attention.
But the next time our young woman starts school, I likely won’t get to hug her as she heads out for first day of classes. I’ll have to sit on my hands to keep from texting her repeatedly about how her day is going. I’ll pray I’ll get more than “fine” or “K” when I let myself send that single text checking in.
If she’s like her mother, once she leaves for college, she won’t ever really live at home again for more than a few weeks at a time. I’ll miss her, but I’ll be proud of her. She is organized, smart and well-prepared.
But I’ll also long for those moments when I could lock the doors, turn off the lights and know both of my kiddos are tucked into their beds. I’ll enjoy that feeling for the next 10 months or so.