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Challenge: Back to School

School Year Hopes

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8acf254402111b705f3239154908daae3b4b8fdaThis summer I spent a lot of time loving my children “as is.” No comparisons to their peers. No thoughts of what skills they need to have mastered by a certain date. No worries for problems they may never encounter—just loving them right where they are now, today.

But here we are, the first day of school fast approaching, and I can already feel the pressure mounting—pressure to prepare for tomorrow, next month, next year, and so on.

Now don’t get me wrong; I know it’s important for children to be prepared for tomorrow’s spelling test, next week’s music recital, next month’s big game, and next year’s grade level assessment. These things matter—they do. But I am guilty of letting these future events matter more than what really matters now.

Today. Today really matters.

Today is all we know for sure that we really have.

My greatest hope for this school year is to remember how important … and how promising … today is.

Tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year all have pressures attached to them. Trying to prepare for things unknown and lofty goals can be downright overwhelming and daunting.

But today is different.

Today is doable. It’s manageable. It’s standing right in front of us requiring no plan whatsoever, just waiting to be grasped. It’s exactly why people often suggest taking one day at a time.

But in this fast-paced, task-driven, achievement-oriented world, it’s easy to forget that lovely little notion: One day at a time.

As my older daughter enters middle school for the first time, I’ve decided to do something I wish I’d done more in her elementary years: Focus a little less on tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year, and focus a little more on today.

I mean, she’s not getting any younger and neither am I. Why not bring a little more peace, a little more joy, a little more love, and a little less pressure to our days while she still wakes up in my house, still grabs my hand every once in awhile, and still seeks my guidance.

I don’t know, but I am going to try. I’m starting today with a few small efforts. And whether I do just one of them, three of them, or most of them, I can’t help but believe such efforts will reap priceless rewards that pressure, hurry, control, and worry cannot.

So here they are, my school year hopes for my children today. Feel free to adopt these as your own as your children embark on a new academic year …

Today I hope to take a few extra seconds to kiss the top of your head before you go.

Today I hope to stand aside and let you do it yourself … even if it takes a little longer … even if it’s messier … even if it’s not perfect.

Today I hope to say, “I’m sorry,” and “I love you” because they are life changing, comforting, and healing words.

Today I hope to laugh more than I sigh with exasperated breaths.

Today I hope to view missed shots and off-key notes as brave attempts at living rather than failures to succeed.

Today I hope to focus less on your faults and more on your freckles and sense of humor because they light up your face.

Today I hope to notice the color of your eyes when you speak to me.

Today I hope to listen to your words without judgment and impatience.

Today I hope to extend grace for accidental spills and other kid mishaps.

Today I hope to help you as you clean up that spill and tell you about the time I dropped an entire bag of flour on the kitchen floor. Maybe we’ll even laugh about it.

Today I hope to give you a little extra time to walk along the edge of the curb, do your own hair, and listen to your knock-knock joke.

Today I hope to catch a glimpse of you that suddenly reminds me how much of an extraordinary miracle you are.

Today I hope to remember you are more than your achievements, more that your academic performance, and more than your behavior report.

Today I hope you see my eyes light up, not because of something you do, but simply because of who you are.

Today I hope you go to bed knowing life is better because of you.

Today I hope you fall asleep feeling loved right now, today, just as you are.

Today—that’s where it’s at, my friends.

Today is all we really have for sure.

So let today be a day we can look back on, whether in tragedy or joy, and say: Today was not perfect, but it was memorable. Why? Because I encouraged. I smiled. I listened. I apologized. I waited. I cared. I tried. But above all, I loved … oh how I loved … and my child felt it from the top of her head to the depths of her soul.

And when I wake up tomorrow and feel the pressure of future events, I will remember I am simply going to do what I can today. Today is doable. It’s manageable. It’s standing right in front of me requiring no plan whatsoever. Today is just waiting to be grasped.

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