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Challenge: Back to School

A Letter to My Children on the First Day of School aka The Senior & Her Junior

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Pinch me. Are we really here?

Though this has been a day we’ve known would come-and have been anticipating-our last first day of school stateside has finally arrived. Madeline has entered her Senior Year and Jackson, fourth grade. And it’s been a great morning!

I’ll be honest when I say I was expecting some tears (me) and some bittersweet emotions (also me), but they never came. We laughed over chocolate chip pancakes, woke up a bit more while we tromped through the wet grass to get the obligatory first day of school pictures. The children were in high spirits, very playful while I snapped away, and the good feelings carried all the way to both sets of parking lots.

While I chatted with some of my parent friends we couldn’t help but remark on how fast summer vacation passed by. Are we really at the first day of school? Well as sure as water is wet, yes we are and those classroom doors opened and closed much quicker than I remember, taking in our children and ushering them into a new year of learning and growing. It made me want to step back, slow down this day, and say a few things to my children.

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Madeline, today is the first day of your Senior Year. It’s your last year of high school! I look at you and have a hard time seeing the smock-dressed, pig-tailed little girl that used to carry a Teletubby in each hand, stubbornly refusing to eat anything other than mini quiche and scrambled eggs with cheese. But I know she’s still in there. I hear her when you say ‘Mom’, feel those tiny arms wrap around me when you need a hug. I see her when you smile and laugh-two things that bring me a ridiculous amount of joy.

You are our firstborn and because of that you were showered with that awestruck love of first-time parents. We’ve been blessed to experience all the “firsts” with you. Days of school, doctor’s appointments, childhood mishaps, sports, birthdays, braces, boyfriends, driving-a plethora of moments. And there are still so many to come!

My wish for you is to savor this year with your friends, your cross country team, with us, your family, your little brother, the partner in crime you never knew you wanted-or needed. Take in each moment. Capture them. Take your selfies. Go to every dance. Wear the uncomfortable heels then kick them off while you’re dancing. Celebrate your 18th birthday with your friends and family by your side. Pour your heart into those college essays. Vote. Run to the top of every hill and celebrate each accomplishment.

This is your time!! Shine as bright as the ray of sunlight that you are and let the world see it because you are a most remarkable young woman: beautiful, compassionate, humorous, intelligent. And that barely scratches the surface. Dive deeper this year, sweet girl. Dive deep and explore. We’ll be with you all the way, cheering you on with love and support. Have a great first day! We love you.

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Jackson, you take on everything the same way: with wit, heart, and boundless energy. You were the child we had to wait for. It was so hard, but well worth the wait. Your miraculous arrival filled us with an abundance of gratitude, and we feel it every day. Through you and your carefree spirit we are experiencing life on the tips of our toes, breathless with joy.

I often joke that you’re the child who gives me gray hairs, but what you truly provide are days filled with laughter and displays of your deep capacity to love. You radiate with something so pure and good it’s hard to describe, but you use it daily. I know this year, even with the bar that’s been raised in school and out you still will. You’ll carry yourself with the enthusiasm that’s always present in your dimpled smile and heard in your boisterous laughter.

My small but mighty boy, use these gifts every day. When you’re playing handball on the courts with your classmates, when you’re tackling a new assignment in school, when you’re at Webelo meetings and spending time with family and friends. Enjoy yourself this year-your Fourth Grade year. We love you to the moon and back sweet bebe!

Love you both,

Mom and Daddy

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