I'm not the only Mama feeling nostalgic this week, I know. Next week, my two oldest boys will be back to school. Calvin as a junior, and Ezra joining him at school for the first time as a freshman. Two high schoolers, gulp.
The three youngest will continue to be homeschooled this year, though like their siblings before them and like every year since we began, we take it year by year and child by child and I never really do know when a new direction might become the right path for one or all of them. For now, for this year, this is the road we're on. Two high schoolers (at two different schools, because why keep things simple?), and three not-so-little ones at home.
Yesterday, we hit the beach with some friends. Many of our friends who attend school have returned now or are busy getting ready, so it was a crowd of only homeschooling friends on the shockingly empty beach. I got a little emotional watching this gaggle of children - playing with their homemade boat, popping jewelweed by the side of the lake, making up games and daring each other to jump off the float. All while their Mamas sat on the beach, some of us knitting, talking about all manner of things that Moms talk about - heavy and light, fun and serious. I thought about all the very many moments I've had just like this, with a somewhat changing cast of characters as the kids grow and things change - in the sixteen years of being a Mama now. All those summer days we've spent gathering with friends like this at the shore or by the lake, and just how important and meaningful those days have been in our lives. I know it to be true for my children, who I see developing friendships, figuring out interpersonal relationships, exploring nature with others. But also true for me, more than I can say - as we sit and talk about our hopes and fears for these little ones, and ourselves. Oh that connection, it's priceless, it really is.
I'm not sure where I'm going with that today, except that I want to send out a little hello and "I see you, I hear you" hug to all of you Mamas during this sometimes emotional back-to-school season, whether that be sending your youngest off to college or homeschooling your little one for the first. Be as gentle and kind to yourselves as you are to those children of yours!