It’s the fresh start of a new school year.
Last week, we caught a whiff of new beginnings as we milled about the school for Meet the Teacher night. It smelled of fresh paint, rubber blacktop, and dry erase markers. The nervous excitement among the Kindergarten parents was mirrored back to us by the Kindergarten teachers as the principal took the mic to welcome us all.
My youngest son Henry had been eagerly awaiting this day, checking boxes with a big X on a makeshift calendar until finally it was here. He could hardly wait until all of our summer fun was over so that he could finally start Kindergarten.
We gathered around his teacher – the same one his big brother had – and listened as she introduced herself and said a few words about what we could expect this year. She called her co-teacher the wrong name and, after the second time, grew flustered. “I always seem to get insomnia this time of year,” she admitted. I had guessed as much by her red-rimmed eyes and the memory of my own back-to-school nights in my former life as a teacher.
New beginnings bring along some amount of anxiety.
“Who’s excited to start Kindergarten?” Henry’s teacher asked. “Who’s excited but also a little nervous?” she asked again. I peeked over her shoulder to her classroom, still in a state of disarray two days before school was to start, thanks to the fresh paint the district had provided a month too late. I knew how she would be spending her weekend, and felt anxious on her behalf.
Although I’m not starting a new school year, I’ll be facing my own new beginning now that both of my children will be in school full time. It marks a new stage of life, a rite of passage I am both excited and nervous about as I consider: what’s next? How will I best steward my time? Will I miss seeing my kids so much? Will we still be able to have quality family time? How did the last five years fly by so fast and did I do enough to enjoy them?
I never sent my youngest to any kind of preschool or daycare, so this milestone feels especially monumental to me.
I have my charts, my planner, my goals, and my objectives all laid out: running the household, working part time for our church, taking my writing more seriously. I am one spreadsheet away from looking like a crazy person. But at the core of it all, behind all of my shiny organization and my inspirational stickers, I’m just trying to determine: will it be okay? Will the kids be okay? Will I be okay?
It’s normal to be excited and anxious when you’re standing on the cusp of something new: new job, new relationship, new city, new church, new stage of life. Sometimes it comes with an announcement (You may kiss the bride! You’re hired! I’m pregnant!) and sometimes it sneaks up on you and catches you unaware until you’re standing right in the thick of it. However change comes, let us find comfort in the fact that God is surprised by exactly none of it. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)
So as I sent off my youngest to his first-ever day of Kindergarten on Monday, I assured him it was all going to Be Okay. He didn’t need the reminder as much as I did, but I gave it to him with one last hug just the same.