The last first day

Much of what is said here
must be said twice...

Nobody will listen, it would seem
if you simply admit
your baby left you early this morning
she didn’t even stop to say good-bye.

But if you sing it again
with the help of the band...

People will not only listen;
they will shift to the sympathetic edges of their chairs...
— Billy Collins, "The Blues"

Yesterday marked the last first day of school.

It's one of my favorite yearly mothering traditions--the trip to get school supplies, the night-before nerves and preparations, the first day of school photos, and the renewed (and always short-lived) ideal of the best-case early morning routine.  The milestones, though, they are whizzing by. 

I wrote once on Sam's birthday: "It's with a pocket of melancholy that I greet each of Sam's milestones. I grin and clap and hug and bake and (secretly, in my heart) cry a little. The crucible of the youngest child, I suppose, along with the fact that there are very few photos of just him in those early years. I did it almost from the moment he came home from the hospital--Holly Hunter style, in full sob mode: this is the last time I'll bring a newborn home from the hospital...the last time I'll watch the stumbling first steps...the last time I send a child to kindergarten."

Kids grow and discover and stretch the apron strings and launch their own lives. Parents support and applaud and nudge and work themselves out of a job. Let's all agree that the alternative would be uncomfortable--no one should literally play out the behavior of the creepy stalker mom in Love you Forever...sneaking in windows and climbing up ladders.

I'm so excited to see where this year takes Sam. We have him home for a bonus half year thanks to our move to Australia; I'm sure we'll all be excited and ready by the time rolls around to say goodbye at the end of the year. But I still reserve the right to get myself a microphone and a back-up band so I can belt out the milestone blues on occasion. "My baby done left me this mornin'..."  

p.s. Thanks for being my sympathetic (virtual) back up band--I'm moving on to other tunes now, too, I promise.

 Summer uniform, Australia style. Yes, knee socks and shorts--it's a given here.

Summer uniform, Australia style. Yes, knee socks and shorts--it's a given here.