It’s back to school time, and while I love all the fun that summer brings, I’m also not super sad about it.
For my youngest, it’s a return to a somewhat familiar routine, with a team of people that assist in helping her to learn the skills she needs to navigate this life successfully. It alleviates much of the pressure on me to constantly fill the roles of therapist and teacher and disciplinarian (not that these ever really go away or stop, but it’s the 24/7 aspect of it that can be challenging) in addition to just being mommy (the most important role). It facilitates and strengthens our bond as she continues to learn that we, as her parents, are a constant in an ever changing world. And she has fun and makes friends, and that’s kind of super important.
For my oldest, it’s a return to friends and a social life that’s not always the easiest to navigate with the families that attend our small school so spread out. It’s sports and challenging academics and trips and all the fun and hard things that come with growing up. As a teenager, he needs it. All of it.
So while we love and embrace summertime, and to some extent, mourn its rapidly approaching end, it’s also refreshing to dive back into the daily life of school. Last week I hopped on Instagram for a few minutes, and the first thing I saw was a story from a mom that I follow that was basically reaming other mothers who are glad to see the start of a new school year. It wasn’t merely the lamenting of the end of summer which I totally get. It was a post that, frankly, felt full of judgment and ridicule. I don’t think she set out to be hurtful in her words. I actually think she was attempting to encourage mothers to value quality time with their children. However, it just didn’t read in an encouraging way, and she was sure to point out that she would never be happy to see her children returning to school because she is a Godly mother that loves her children. Normally, I can let these things roll and move on, but something about the line she drew . . . the “we (good moms) vs. y’all (not so great moms)” mentality just hit wrong.
This person has a large-ish following (no I will not tell you who it is) and has no clue who I am so she’ll never see this post nor is that my intent. More than anything, I want to share the lesson I learned here. Aside from the fact that what she wrote/said struck me as immensely hurtful to so many, I realized that all too often that has been me. My confidence in myself and my abilities has bordered on self righteousness more than once, and the truth is we all have a tendency to fall into prideful thinking, to “toot our own horn”, if you will. But the reality is I need to tread carefully when making such comments and generalizations (I know I’ve failed at this a time or two or ten thousand). Maybe that mom that is glad to see school returning is struggling with a child with special needs and desperately needs a moment to breathe. Maybe it’s a working parent that is trying to navigate another crazy summer amidst COVID and ever changing child care situations. Maybe it’s just a mom that’s tired and overwhelmed. Or maybe, like me, that mom both loves summer but also, loves sending their kiddos back to the routine and structure of school. It doesn’t mean they don’t love or enjoy their children as much as the next person. It just means they feel differently in this moment. And the truth holds for any number of instances. If you haven’t been there, whatever there might represent in that moment, if you’re not living that person’s reality, then give them a break.
As the old proverb says, “There but for the grace of God go I.” The grace extended to me has been huge, especially in these past five or so years as we have navigated life with some special needs thrown in, and for me, a little grace and empathy can stretch for miles.
So back to school we go . . . and whether you’re packing backpacks and lunchboxes and sending your kids off to school or keeping them home and tackling all the hard and beautiful that is home schooling . . . or maybe, you’re somewhere in between . . . I’m praying that despite all the crazy, it’s the best year yet!
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