First Day of School: Happy Dance Anyone?

39455689_e1a513e9c9 Am I a bad mother because I am happy that my kids are off to start a new school year today? Nah, I think I'm pretty normal. To be perfectly honest there is a mix of emotions when it comes to another milestone checked off. This year it's my youngest starting high school.

At breakfast she said, "Next year I'll be sixteen."

Without looking up from the paper, I said, "No you won't."

"Mom, I'll be fifteen this year. Next year I'll be sixteen."

My heart sank. She's right.

They tend to grow despite our lack of readiness. As I left for the office I saw my neighbor with her youngest, all decked out with a shiny new backpack, her first day of kindergarten. I stopped to say hello. "Can you believe it?" my neighbor said. The mother looked so happy, smiling, beaming.

I remember feeling that way, proud and scared too. How will they handle all those new kids? Will they be OK? The feeling isn't that different whether we are sending them to kindergarten, the first day at middle or high school or off to college. Did we do everything we could to prepare them? Are they ready?

Of course, they usually are, more than ready. So I can allow myself to be happy today. I'm happy that my kids are competent adults in training. I'm happy that their return to structure and routine helps me get a grip on my schedule. And yes, I'm happy to have the house to myself for a little while. It's life and it's good.

Photo courtesy of Steve Wilhelm via Flickr


  • What a great blog post. It’s good for all of us to get back to routines and stretch and grow. When the bus came at the end of the day, the little one mentioned above said “I had a good day, a fun day, a long day”! Words to cherish. From the happy, smiling, beaming mom.

  • Charming! And so true, all of it…

  • Linda, She touched my heart, she looked so happy. You have every reason to be bursting with pride. I will cherish her words as well.

  • Claudia, It’s sweet of you to say. Thank you.

  • Amanda

    I think everyone, even the kids be them toddlers or teenagers, are happy to be back at school. Even if they go off muttering things like “Oh, great homework.” and “I have to get up HOW early?!” I know was nervous when I had my first day of high school it was an easy enough day… mainly filled with nerves and anxiety. And even though the whole day was like a weird out of body experience, being in a school that most certainly was not my old middle school, and seeing my older brother in the halls I couldn’t help but to be happy to be back at school. Not only because I got to see my friends but I was able to have work to do… which is strange because that’s usually the thing that teenagers are supposed to hate.
    This post is amazing. I never realized how emotional it is for parents to see their kids go off to school. And let me just say, don’t worry about feeling bad about being glad that your kids are going back to school, because I know that when I went of to school I felt a bit guilty to be going back as well and feeling so happy to be getting out of the house.

  • Dear Amanda, Thank you so much for your perspective. It really lends a fresh angle to the whole going back to school experience.


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