Back to School

In thinking of a word to describe how I am feeling this morning, “bittersweet” was the first to come to mind.

But, upon looking up the actual definition of the word, I realize that “bittersweet” (which, BY THE BY, is also the name of a poisonous Eurasian woody vine (Solanum dulcamara) of the nightshade family that has purple flowers and oval reddish berries and is naturalized in North America) may not be the perfect word for the emotions that are swelling inside of me;

n. pleasure, alloyed with pain.

Yes, I am happy. Pleasure? Not sure.

And is it painful? Maybe a bit, in a wistful way–

as I told my best friend, this isn’t how I expected my life to look today.


Over FIVE years ago I wrote this blog post about “Back to School Blues”. It was written as an article for a column I was authoring and also as a “teacher meets parent” piece of advice on this here site.

Back then I was so new. I had only been teaching for a half a decade, had only been a mom for several months and I was closer to 20 than to 30 (ahem).

Back then, I thought that when the time came for my daughter to go to Kindergarten I would be incredulous (I am) but that I would also be just down the hall, teaching in my own classroom at the same school (I am not).

I have been talking to my tribe members a lot in the past few days–my best girls in the world–and they all have the same sentiment:

Kindergarten? WHAT? How can she be in Kindergarten?

Last night when I spoke to Twin, I said, “But I JUST called you from TJ Maxx to tell you that I was pregnant!”

J just replied to an email chain with, “She is going to totally ROCK it in Kindergarten, but isn’t she only two days old???”

My mom asked, “How is it possible that she is in Kindergarten??

And then my sister sent us an email with the caption, “If you all want to cry”. It was my daughter when she was less than two years old, in a video she recorded for her “Mimi”, in which she tells the entire story of “The Wizard of Oz”. Okay, Emily, it worked, I am crying. #waterworks.

It just doesn’t compute.

And the thing is, it isn’t like we haven’t lived. Since my daughter was born, we have been through so much–

more than the other 25 years of my life put together;

we have experienced magic and endured devastation;

we have made friends and we have lost friends;

we have gotten jobs and we have left jobs.

We moved.

We even multiplied.

(Just to emphasize this point, I will admit that as I wrote that line, my son took a complete header off of the foot of my bed and screamed, “OW!” and got up and kept running. 5 years ago this would have been an immediate visit to the ER.)

Our tribe has grown, as has our knowledge, wisdom and love.

But, it still feels like it has happened so fast, and my head is spinning.

This morning, my daughter dressed herself in the outfit that we thoughtfully picked out for her last night. She didn’t need my help. She can get dressed herself.

And for this I am so proud and even more grateful, but it is also hard, because my baby, my precious, most special girl in the world, is growing up and that means that things are changing and that is scary.

And it is also inevitable and permanent and I am sure that some of this has something to do with my own mishegoss (if you don’t know what that means, look it up; it’s definition is much more clear than that of “bittersweet”).

It has to do with the fact that my baby is a big kid and that even my baby baby is a boy now. And I won’t be having any more.


My daughter woke up this morning with a smile.

She got dressed with ease and she walked out of the house and into school with confidence.

She’s got this.

Now, I just need to follow her lead.


So, to bookend this so that I can be present with the little boy who will also, inevitably, grow up in a blink, and in the spirit of full disclosure, it is 9:30 in the morning and I just ate a Jelly Belly jellybean and I thought that it was going to be “toasted marshmallow” but it was “coffee”

and that, my friends,

that jellybean

is, in fact, freakin’ bittersweet.

(featured image via)

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *