It starts around the end of July – commercials on tv for back to school supplies. Yup, in the middle of summer we are barraged with ads about September and they ramp up as August rounds to an end. Happy ads of parents gliding blissfully down the aisles throwing items into their carts and dreaming of the day they ship their offspring back to school – out of their hair for the bulk of the day. The parents in these ads dream of sipping coffee, or cocktails, while their children are in someone else’s hands, they imagine being footloose and fancy free while their most precious babes are out of their sight. They revel in the back to school glow, all the while not realizing how lucky they are.
I know that these ads are an exaggeration, but it’s hard to remember that as I drive to work on the first day of school and pass child after child, waiting at the end of the driveway or at the bus stop, tugging at their new clothes, clutching their lunch boxes in their tiny hands, as they wait for the school bus. Or walking down the street, holding onto Mum, Dad, Grandma as they run towards this brand new adventure – a new year, or a first year, at school!
My heart flips as I hear the high school students waiting for their bus outside my office window.
Rough-housing, or gossiping, with their friends; exchanging stories of their summers – loves lost and gained, friends moved, vacation excitement and apprehension about their upcoming year.
I find myself drifting into a daydream – imagining my child talking to their friends, walking to the bus stop and chattering all the way. The age of my imaginary child varies, they get older as I do. Their gender filps and flops as I dream of conversations and experiences we could be having, tiny arguments over lunch contents or outerwear, hugs exchanged (at the door for teens, or the bus for a younger child). Then I shake my head, it’s just a dream.
But dreams are ok. They help us to work through our emotions, sort out our fears and feelings, manage our grief. I don’t live in my back-to-school dream, in fact it really only comes to me once a year, and as I get older it leaves me quicker. No longer do I linger there – my sadness growing – now I find I am able to smile to myself. I pass the kids and watch as Mum, Dad or Grandma kisses them lightly on the cheek and packs them onto the bus, the care they show warms me. I listen as the teens laugh loudly in the mornings, pulling practical jokes on one another and singing their favourite songs loudly while dancing down the street.
My heart still aches for a child of my own, a child that is half me and half my husband but totally, wholly and uniquely themselves. There are days that waiting behind the flashing lights of the school bus breaks my heart into a million miniscule pieces and leaves me bereft and thinking I’ll never be whole again.
But this year I smile. It might be a small smile, you may not notice it, but for me it is huge. A step toward acceptance. A step forward. A step that I will celebrate and remember. Hoping that next year, I’ll be able to take another, and then another.
You can check out more from CeCe VanderMarks on her blog: cecevandermarks.weebly.com