Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. – Taken from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It really isn’t fall but my kids went back to school and back to school means it is fall in my book. However, it is 96 degrees in the middle of August, which is very much summer. What I mean to say is, Happy New Year! Yes, the heat has gotten to me but I can explain. Back to school feels more like New Year’s Day more than New Year’s Day sometimes. It’s a new beginning! A new school year means new notebooks, sharpened pencils, new clothes, a blank slate and a fresh start. We make goals and look ahead towards all things promising. I make new resolutions as summer turns to fall to make sure I finish the year strong. I ask my kids to make goals appropriate for the grade ahead of them. My son will be a junior and my daughter a sophomore in high school. Each school year I know my kids will change so much between the first day of school and the last. It’s so exciting and heartbreaking all at the same time. Let’s clarify – heartbreaking for me! I have a hard time letting go and loosening the apron strings.
My kids resolutions are typically the same – get good grades, not read any more than required (ughhh), try to not procrastinate, know where socks, shoes, keys, etc…are the night before vs. five minutes before walking out the door already five minutes late. Mine are very different every year because my kids are so different every year. On my list is to start the plan for college admissions for my son. It’s killing me. Because we are talking about college my other resolution involves being true to who we are and making decisions that are right for us – not comparing what others are doing and getting confused and caught up with what we THIINK we should be doing vs. what we KNOW we should be doing because it fits our circumstances. Our circumstances – not our friends, not what we think social media is telling us we should do, and not the rumor mill based on the perception of what is required to make it to college and be successful through adulthood.
My third resolution is to promise not to try to do everything. Balance is going to be my word and theme for the next 12 months. While my high school kids may sometimes need a micromanager at times, it’s not the right tactic for their growth and my sanity. At 15 and almost 17, they need to figure out how to do things themselves and learn the hard way. I resolve to guide, support, continue to teach them life skills and maintain balance in our home. Did I mention college? College bound kids = stress = pressure. We are going to dial it down in our house so we can succeed. We have started some school years like race horses right out of the gate, overscheduled and with the message of “do your best” but unintentionally phrasing it more like get perfect scores, stay organized, take out the trash, have a great attitude, be social, and stay focused on the sports field. I have found we can’t do it all. Balance. More balance.
I used to compare my kids to others when they were toddlers and elementary aged based on whose kids were taller, shorter, lost their teeth first, their reading level and other things because I was worried about development. I constantly worried if I felt they were “behind” other children. Now I know better. Teachers and pediatricians told me not to compare – they all grow and develop differently and at their own pace. Did I listen? No. But, I remember what they said and now I know they were right. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher told me this after one teary discussion, “My boys were average students at best. They came home and played outside. We knew they would find their way. One is now a pilot and the other a doctor.” The message is this – we give our kids our love, support, and the tools they need to be great adults. They will take that and do exactly what fits best for them.
Now that mine are about to leave the nest in a few years I finally get it. Despite my worries, comparing, fretting, and over analyzing my kids have done exactly as they should. They have grown into who they were destined to be based on their own interests and mindset. Now my attention is turned inwards. I also take solace in talking to parents whose children have graduated from high school or college and are on their own. They don’t talk about AP courses or GPA’s. They tell me the college they are going to or graduated from and how everything worked out exactly how it should. Bumps in the road, delays, failures, successes, lessons – some of it expected and some surprises. Not much advice just well wishes for the best of luck to all of us and most always this parting message, “It will work out just fine. You’ll see.”
So while my heart aches a lot, I also feel joy knowing that my kids are starting a new year with endless opportunity. I can’t wait to see where that leads them. I also feel like I am learning and building personally and professionally. I’m excited to start this new year along with my kids growing and moving towards the future.
Cheers to a fresh start and infinite possibilities! I’d love to hear if you feel the same way and if the arrival of autumn has you making resolutions.