Since I needed to be on campus for my own first day of classes, I wasn't able to wait at the bus stop with my two oldest daughters last week as they started their school years. I didn't get to hold Brooke's hand as she ventured into the world of kindergarten, and I didn't get to say one last goodbye to Reese as she moved up to the next school as a third grader. I didn't track their bus with my gaze until it turned the corner at the end of our street, standing in the driveway with the slow realization that my kids -- well, they just left.
Instead, I waited until I came home from work, found the camera, and uploaded the pictures that my husband took from the morning.
Only then did I see the traditional first-day-of-school smile,
and the truth-be-told, I'm not sure if I'm really feeling this back-to-school-gig grimace.
I had a moment of sweet motherly realization that, awww, she wore a headband to kindergarten today!
And then another realization, close on its heels, that she also had chosen her own outfit. By herself. I tell you, that girl has never met a color combination -- or pattern combination -- that she hasn't liked.
Then I saw pictures of the littlest member of the family dutifully waiting in the driveway during the happenings, and I wondered how her three-year-old mind must have processed the fact that the house, for once, was about to be quiet and that her playmates were leaving.
But most of all, I viewed the pictures with such thankfulness, such gratefulness, that these children are mine, that God has entrusted these three to me -- and me to them.
We won't be able to share all of their special moments with them in person, I realize.
This year especially, I remembered how blessed I am -- not only to share special moments with my kids, but just to have my kids. My heart hurt as I thought of a friend and colleague whose eight-year-old son unexpectedly passed away last winter. This was the first year that she didn't get to put him on the bus. I prayed for the parents from Sandy Hook, knowing that the onset of this school year must be providing one more reminder of the painful absence that they've felt every single day since last December.
When my girls came home -- flushed and excited, talkative and tired, hungry and cranky, energetic and spent -- I picked up the trails of stuff they left behind in the hallway as they plodded into the house, and I remembered to be grateful that today, even if I didn't get to see them get on the bus, I did get to see them come off of it.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful school year ahead.