I can’t remember a time when I didn’t look forward to buying school supplies. As a kid I would wait anxiously for the “back-to-school” signs to popup in the stores and spend hours picking out the right colored folders and perfect pencils. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a new box of crayons or a smooth, flawless pink eraser and I would spend countless hours organizing my new school loot in preparation for the first day of school. With my school days long gone, I still find great joy in the school supply shopping excursion. I love watching my children make their selections and rush home to put every piece carefully in their new backpacks. Suddenly the excitement of summer is replaced by the anticipation of a new school year.
Although my kids may not feel new notebooks and highlighters are anything more than school supplies, to me they symbolize a new beginning—a chance to start with a clean slate so to speak. For a brief moment I have forgotten all about the endless nights of arguing over homework, the fights with friends and the seven pairs of gloves lost during winter recess football games. I find myself longing for filling lunch boxes with nutritious goodies and spending afternoons playing chauffeur to kids with ball practices and band programs. “This is my year,” I say to myself in the mirror. “This is my year to go from overwhelmed mother to school-mom extraordinaire.”
But, before long, the school year begins and the fresh, clean notebooks are soon tattered and torn. The schedule gets hectic, the homework gets hard and my kids and I find ourselves longing for lazy weekend afternoons. I guess that’s why I cherish those back-to-school shopping moments so much—they give me that rare opportunity to be able to fix all that is broken or achieve all that is hard by simply buying my child a Chicago Bears lunchbox or a Hollister backpack. Nothing seems impossible with a good, sharpened pencil and a fresh pad of paper.
This school year we are embarking on a lot of new “firsts” for our family. My daughter is spending her 8th grade year in a new middle school and is now joined by her brother who is starting 6th grade. And, my youngest son is stepping into first grade without the comfort of his big brother and his fifth grade entourage. As we sifted through folders and picked out backpacks I couldn’t help but relish in the thought that this could truly be “our year.”