It’s back to school time again. This year I have a sophomore and a seventh grader and even I can’t believe I just wrote that. It seems like yesterday I was holding back tears as I put a 6-year-old on the bus for the first time while a 3-year-old watched from a stroller. Theoretically, in less than a year my oldest will be able to drive herself to school.
When the girls were little I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mother while working as an independent contractor. I liked being my own boss and being there when my kids got home from school. Dissecting the day while making dinner became a peaceful daily ritual. As the girls got older some irresistible job opportunities came my way so I went back out into the workforce. They seemed to “need” me less and they adjusted fairly seamlessly to the new routine.
Now they’re as independent as they’ve ever been. But I was reminded recently that they do indeed still need me. I accompanied my youngest to her school’s open house. The two of us, along with 800 other junior high kids and their equally bewildered parents, roamed the halls and searched for classrooms while cursing the lack of central air. The old building with its various additions defied logic in its layout. The crush of bodies, the oppressive heat (and smell!), and my daughter’s mounting anxiety conspired to take us both down. Tensions ran high. Things were said out of frustration. I said a silent thanks to the universe that I was not the one having to experience seventh grade firsthand.
The thing is, navigating the teenage years and everything that comes with it is a tricky business. Hormones, the pressure to succeed and social pressures are just a few of the challenges teens and their parents face. And while I enjoy technology and social media as much as the next person, I will forever be grateful it didn’t exist when I was 13-year-old not-so-hot mess.
That being said, I’m expecting this will be a good school year. I know there will be plenty of trials along the way. But I’m encouraged by the emotional maturity I’ve seen the girls exhibit this past year. They’ve demonstrated that they are fully capable of rising to any number of occasions and this will be no different. If you’re a parent, I hope the same goes for you too.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful 2016 school year!