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Challenge: Back to School 2020

Bittersweet Back-to-School

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I can’t quit crying and I don’t even send mine back until tomorrow. After our back-to-school zoom meetings Friday, I felt peace in our decision to send the kids for in-first person learning for the first time. There’s no doubt in my mind that the teachers and faculty we are entrusting them with are prepared to keep them as safe as possible. I’m so happy for them to get to feel a sense of normalcy again. We’ve been excited all weekend. The end is in sight- at least for a moment- and boy are we ready. But then Louise- arguably the most eager of all of us- burst into tears over morning waffles. “I don’t want to go. I want to stay with you" she wailed. I held her tight and resisted the urge to agree. I told her it was okay to be nervous and she will feel so much better once she gets to see her teachers and friends. I believe that, but wondered if the same would hold true for me. For the past five months we’ve gotten what every mother longs for from the first moment her babies branch out. First babysitters, first days of Parent's Day Out, then starts the insanely high speed revolving door of new school years. There’s a constant yearning to slow it all down. Hit pause. Lock them inside and get them all to yourself like those first months at home with a newborn when you could stare at them all day every day just to know they were safe if you wanted to. We got it. It blindsided us and it was far from easy, but we got it. Did I remind myself enough not to wish it away? Did I feel too depleted to soak it all in, or were there maybe a few moments I got it right? Surely there were a few...Through all of the uncertainly of this time, the one peace it offered was the smallest sliver of control. For the first time in years I felt like I could keep them with me and safe, and no matter what was blowing up in the world around us, that was enough. To be home with happy, healthy children and nowhere else to be. What a gift. I never expected to feel anything but relief when we finally got to this point, but of course I should have known it’s never that simple. It’s more bittersweet than ever. I will miss them deeply. I’m elated for a fresh start for all of us, but my heart is broken for what we are leaving behind. After all, the best case scenario is that we never get it back.

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