Yesterday was our first official "back to school" day. In all earnestness, I've been looking really forward to it. I wanted to dig into the lesson plans I spent all summer dreaming up and talking about and playing with (lots of dangling prepositions there. It's 5Am, whatever). I had plans and schedules and I was ready to roll. The day got started on time. We actually ran ahead of schedule all day long, much to my relief. I was worried I had too much planned and I don't. At least I didn't yesterday. The refrigerator guy never showed up, but other than that, everything went off without a hitch. The new, complicated afternoon driving schedule turned out to be really flawless. And actually very simple, now that it's all figured out.
So, why is it that when Mike called around three o'clock and asked how things were going, I told him I was looking for a good Catholic school or two? And why is it that he barely paid attention? Probably because this is just the way the first day always goes. It's utterly exhausting. I feel like I'm spinning plates all day long. So many, many needy children!
Who knew that Karoline would be outraged that she didn't have her own bookbag full of books and would follow me around all day long signing and saying "Book! MY book!" Yes, we gave her several old workbooks and now they all have blue Lyra circles on every single page. Not sure what we'll dig out for today. Clearly, she expects to be a full part of the book action.
Who knew that a certain child would meltdown as soon as he saw the math book? I did. And I took a deep breath. But still my shoulders tensed and my voice grew pitched. Who knew a different child would repeatedly ask how many chapters this week and would stress out loud the entire day over whether there was ample time to complete them, despite my reassurances and the eventual reminders that the asking and the stressing was wasting time? I did. Who knew another child would be reduced to tears when Ben Franklin's nose was drawn "too pointy?" I did. Who knew Katie and Gracie would be mesmerized by the school bus stop across the street--first the embarking and then the disembarking--and would spend their free time playing "real" school? Who knew how hard it would be to remember the chore schedule in the midst of the school schedule? I knew. I knew it all. We've been here before. And still, it surprised me with its intensity.
I didn't cry. I did enjoy a good whine with a friend (the kind with the "h," though the other kind would have been appropriate, too). I did my driving thing, dropping children as I went. And then I found myself alone in Trader Joe's. For a whole forty-five minutes. As I shopped, it dawned on me that the day was full and that looking at one day after another of such fullness was indeed overwhelming. But if I stopped in that singular moment, there was peace. It's complicated, but it works. It's busy, but it's peaceful. It's a bit pathetic that I sought and found tranquility in the grocery store, but hey, it's also proof positive that the Holy Spirit is boundless.
The first day is hard; there's no getting around it. We all chafed at losing some of the freedom of summertime. But we're finding our groove, settling into the rhythm of a new season. We'll begin again today, making improvements on yesterday, fine-tuning our lives at home together. And we'll be ever so grateful for this opportunity to grow.