Today is my last first day of being a school parent. Yes, I have two older college students but being a college parent is not the same as being the parent of a child still at home. Since my oldest child’s entry into kindergarten, I have sent at least one child off to school for the first day of classes. It began with walking our oldest child with younger siblings in tow to the kindergarten bus stop, then walking all three of my children to our neighborhood elementary school, to occasional runs to middle school bus stops, and finally, carpools and drives to their private high school. As I sat in line at the school entrance today, I felt like a visitor to a familiar yet strange land.
I have been driving to this school for the past seven years. It should feel like second nature and in some ways it does but knowing that this year is my last as a school parent made it feel different. I thought back to my first year as a parent there and how new and exciting it was. It was my family’s first experience with private school and uniforms and carpools. Everything was in front of my children and our high school was the center of our lives and schedules. With my youngest, it is the end of our experience here. With two children already in college, our world has expanded. We live in different places now with our own separate schedules.
Friends in the thick of raising children have remarked that today is a sad milestone for me but to me it is not. As much as I love my children and have enjoyed being a part of their school community, I look forward to this next stage of life. I will enjoy all the “last firsts” of senior year and I will feel happy and proud to see my younger son walk across the altar at graduation mass in May. Maybe next year at this time, I will feel sentimental about not having to make sure a tired teen is up, uniforms are clean, school supplies are bought, and summer math packets have been completed. Or, maybe not. Maybe I will be smiling at my friends and family members’ photos of their children’s first day back and thinking it is now my own new first day.