Midway through our last full week of school, I came upon some photos from the beginning of the school year. Seriously? That much physical change has occurred in all four of my (not so) little people? Faces went from kid to teen. Bodies stretched out a few inches. Hair grew. Shapes shifted. And that's just their external selves. On every level -- physical, mental and emotional -- the expansion, if laid out in graph form, would be off the charts. From not knowing to knowing. From strangers to friends. From uncertain to certain and vice-versa too. As if I, their mother, connected to only the outside of their being-ness, could even begin to fathom the changes brought on by these past nine months. Like a gestation of a whole new being.
We are ready for summer on many levels, and for the break from the routine. We look forward to turning off our alarm clocks or at least setting them to a more humane time. We are ready for a pause from the onslaught of information and from the hustle and bustle that is the scene of the school year -- socially, academically, mentally, physically.
In these last couple of weeks of school, I'm going to make an attempt to mark the here and now as a keepsake. Because even though I think I'll always remember us as we are in this very moment, apparently, based on the shock I felt looking back to September, that's not true. Who we are keeps changing, morphing, growing, expanding, and it's hard to see where we were in the face of the present day.
I'm going to create a ritual that will capture this particular moment, knowing that we will never be right here right now ever again. And knowing too that it's fun to reflect and collect our year's souvenirs for posterity's sake. My goal these next few weeks, whether one-on-one or as a group, is to inquire with my children about their year. Because here's what I want to know...
- What were your highlights of this school year?
- What do you know now that you didn't know going in?
- What was hard?
- What was easy?
- What are you appreciating about your own sweet life?
- What do you love?
- What were the highs?
- And what were the lows? Knowing too, in retrospect, that even the lows have brought their own rewards.
Then I'll tuck it away. And we'll have ourselves a summer. Full of expansion in its own right and of a totally different variety. And maybe I'll be reminded with a passing glimpse to do this periodically, to look back on the recent past with the lens that only hindsight can provide. And years from now, when all are gone, we'll have a snapshot of all of these successive particular moments in time.
Because if there's one thing I've learned, in parenthood, in personhood, is that no year, ever, is at all like the last. We just continuously expand into our own truest selves. And while I can't stop time, I can capture a little piece of it as a small souvenir.