Mum confession: Saying goodbye to another school year is bittersweet for parents
Much as I am always ready for summer holidays and the carefree, glorious days of my favourite season, there is always also this part of me that feels a little emotional and nostalgic waving goodbye to another school year.
Dare I say it – even this one.
I think as mothers raising children, we all feel that. That feeling of sand slipping through our fingers. Of days being long, but years being too short. Of time moving so much too quickly.
Another school year done and dusted. And it all went by so quickly.
And much as we are all, I think, dying to get these past 18 months over with, and normality to return, there still is that feeling of yikes – my babies are going to be going up another year in school come autumn, and I am not quite sure I'm ready.
However, I recently came across this beautiful piece of advice from one of my favourite parenting bloggers, Kelle Hampton, on what to do when you start feeling sad or overwhelmed at just how fast your children are growing up. Here is what she writes:
1. Clean and purge
Cleaning and purging my kids’ rooms is so therapeutic. I used to avoid getting rid of old clothes and toys or changing anything about the rooms that held all the memories, but hoarding and intentionally keeping everything the same take up emotional space and only serves as a reminder that everything is different. I love the emotional space that’s created when I clean things up, rearrange furniture and get rid of things that no longer serve a purpose. That’s space for NEW memories!
2. Write a letter
Writing is the most powerful tool for getting unstuck. Feeling sad and longing for yesteryear? Write a letter to your old self–when you had babies. Write to that girl and tell her all that she has to look forward to. Or write a letter to your future self–when all the kids are grown. Tell her what you hope she’s doing. Remind her of what she loved.
3. Print new photos
Choose 20 photos from this past year and send them to get printed. Make ornaments with them or switch out frames. Printing current photos helps me stay present and thankful for all that is now. We have a mix of old and new photos displayed in our home to help keep us in the middle–grateful for the past, excited for the future.
4. Plan something for the coming months
A new tradition, a trip, a day outing, a day of doing nothing in exchange for baking and crafts. Pouring my energy into upcoming excitement keeps me from dwelling in the past.
5. Let yourself be sad, but put the kibosh on it after an appropriate amount of time
Moving forward without looking back can be revered as a sign of strength; but if you’re avoiding real emotions, they might build under the surface. Sometimes you just have to get the sads out. The cry feels good, and I’m ready to move on to the new year. Pull a piece of paper out write a list of 5 things you desperately miss about the old days. Cry if it feels good. Save the letter in a keepsake box for your kids to read someday. (I miss having them in my arms all day.)
6. Text someone who gets it
But choose someone who won’t wallow too much with you. I text my sister because she’s sentimental about motherhood too, but yet she’s so good about pushing me to be present because getting too sad and longing is paralyzing.
7. Find good examples of inspiring role models ahead of the journey
Keep your eye on them. Become them. Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep make me excited to grow older. Likewise, I have wonderful examples of moms of adults who are strong, happy, life-loving individuals with so many wonderful things to say about motherhood later on. They’re not longing for the past…they are living beautifully in the present.
8. Raising kids who fly away from the nest is a privilege
It’s the same tool we use to combat the sadness of ageing: The opposite of ageing is not staying young. The opposite of ageing is dying–not having the privilege to experience growth and wrinkles and the hardship that getting older naturally brings. Watching our kids change from sweet preschoolers who excitedly wake up on Christmas morning, searching for reindeer footprints to teenagers who slump around the living room, pretending to be unimpressed is the greatest privilege in parenting. They’re living their one, wild and precious life; and it has moved beyond the days when we woke up six times a night to make sure they were still breathing. They made it, they’re making it…and we get to watch it happen. This is not what we avoid…it’s what we hope for. The new moms we see holding babies and writing those first chapters of early motherhood? They need us to keep the lighthouse lit.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…there is more. As we tiptoe (or cartwheel full force) into summer and yet another school year, that sentiment comforts and fuels me.