“Mom, c’mon!” They call. They have two years and one foot between them, but their stance, their expression, their tone – all deem them sisters.
They turn on their flip-flopped heels, leading the way.
Their long, been growing out forever-and-ever, hair grazes their backs. Almond alongside caramel glittering beneath neon lights.
We pass row upon row of neatly aligned red carts as they head towards soon-to-be sharpened pencils and tightly wound spiral notebooks and blue bins filled with glue sticks and erasers and the smell of crayons.
They’re in a hurry for their next steps, while I drag my feet there.
I’m forever led, sometimes more willingly than others, by the marks of the school year.
As a student, as a teacher, as a mother of school children, June and August have always meant beginnings woven with endings.
About a decade ago I stood in my friend’s pool by moonlight on the last day of school.
Our fingertips -her’s etched by motherhood, mine painted with not yets- lazily grazed the water as the grill cooled and our husbands’ low rumbles barely reached our ears and her children’s “getting ready for bed” voices threaded through open windows.
“Summer’s almost over.” She sighed.
“It’s the last day of school!” I laughed back.
“You’ll see.” She smiled, wisely not saying what I needed to learn for myself.
Days get shorter and faster and busier when they overflow with schedules and outings and laughter and snuggles.
I get this now, with every fiber of my being, I do.
And as summer’s last details get buttoned up – another late night on the swing-set to end one week followed by another new bottle of sunscreen to start the next – my mothering heart is looking towards all of our nexts.
For my very own reasons, slipped inside my very own heart, I’m worried about one of my girls this year.
Her version of next feels teetering and I want to grab hold of it and stabilize it for her. Make the unknown friendlier, easier, smoother.
“Are you going to request a change?” One friend asked, ringlets framing her face within summer’s hot wind, responding to my worries, feeding my want, my need, to do something.
“The point’s moot, right?” Another advised, her muscular legs flexed and sparkling inside the pool, soothing my guilt over what feels like can’t be done, or undone.
“Maybe it’ll be good?” A third says, her voice sweetening the bitter that I’m holding onto so very tightly, that can really and truly only be named fear. And maybe lack of control?
I take all of these mothering words in. Each gem passed from one knowing heart to another. But here I am a decade later, still needing to learn for myself.
So I do the only things I can as my girl gets bigger and steps out further to where my tight grasp can’t quite reach or flex or fix like I want it to.
I love her big, hold her close, build her up, and let her know that she is so, so very loved.
And I HeartHope that when she’s thrown off balance, she’ll have these as a soft landing, a brace, and a push.
And I, will follow her lead, willingly. (Maybe. I’m trying.)
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