It's that time of year again. The season of new growth marked by increasing grade levels and the reminder that these days of mothering and teaching are passing and measured in the cycle of summers and semesters.
I always figured that by now, with four kids in primary school and growing yearly in independence, that I would be freer than in years past to concentrate on other passions and areas of personal development. Yet the years that have left me less busy with alphabets and bathroom assistance have been replaced with years of long division and never ending character development.
Sure, they're more willing to let go of my hand and smile at a new friend while in a new place but they still need mama's promise of return in a short while and an ear and encouragement for the long road home while downloading all their new experiences and relationships.
I'm waxing nostalgic about those quiet afternoons when everyone took an hour nap and for the fat rolls kicking in unison with my nighttime lullabies. I've even asked my husband for one more. Just one more, baby, please, babe?
These long limbs and raucous bedtimes are still somehow new and I'm far more comfortable with infant swaddling and early education and the feeling of confidence that comes from controlled environments and conversation monopoly. Tough questions from almost teenagers leave me searching for the right words and, more times than not, off to search for the answer itself. We are navigating new ground each year, together, and I the less than intrepid explorer am longing for familiar territory.
Yes, this is the time of year the kids are entering a new year of school and learning. But it's the time of year I pause and think of all the months past and the questions and answers we have sought together. This year I enter again another year of motherhood - the education without diploma, the one as unique as the children each calls her own.
To a new year, with curriculum chosen and challenges as yet undeclared. May I major in the subjects of patience and perseverance, grace received and then given, as I continue to lead my children into our transitional present and their forever futures.