Today, I woke up extra early. I hovered over my two older teens with a camera in hand, wanting to snap a picture of them on their first day of the school year. For my daughter, a high school senior, this would be my last time doing this ritual.
With comforting predictability, I’ve always pulled my camera out on the first day to capture the newness of the year, before the homework struggles and complaints about teachers set in. It hasn't always been easy to "be there" to capture the moment — some years it meant planning in advance to make sure work assignments don't conflict.
Today, the annual lump in my throat seemed larger as I stood there at dawn watching my daughter get into the car with my son and drive off for high school, leaving me in the driveway. Every family has its own rituals for getting back into the school swing. I may have complained in the past, but today, I realize how much I enjoy the events leading up to back to school — stockpiling lunchbox snacks, comparing the deals on new school supplies, choosing first day of school outfits.
Alone in the driveway, it hit me…
The day will come when I don't have the back-to-school stress that comes from getting kids in bed earlier, digging up quickie family dinner recipes and organizing carpools to sports practices and afterschool activities. Inevitably, my kids will head out from their dorms to attend class without mom taking a first day photo. Inevitably, my work life balancing act will get easier. Now that I'm much closer to that reality, I'm not sure I want that to happen.
My camera just doesn't feel ready.