Back to school gives me all the feels. I have a wise, loving friend who is a mama of grown children. She describes “back to school” as a release—a way we send our children into another layer of the broken world, and our mama hearts into a deeper place of trust. Each year on the first day of school, I send her a picture of my frazzled self with a cup of coffee in hand hugging my boys –this year’s caption: 3rd and 1st grade release day!
If I’m honest, I’m mostly jazz hands, shimmies, and fist bumps when it comes to back to school. I was that kid who levitated through Office Depot as I checked off my school supply list and whose heart beat a little faster when choosing my academic planner. (For better or worse, I’m pretty sure my kids got that gene, too.) And I’m also the mama who thrives on routine, time with my girlfriends, and trips to Publix sans race-car shopping cart and lollipops. (Who’s with me?)
Solo-grocery trips aside, what I cannot shake during back to school is a general feeling of what can only be identified as “the weirds”—a little stress, a little anxiety, a little sadness…all mixed and mushed with happiness, excitement, nostalgia, and topped off with some distraction. We’ve been at our neighborhood public school going on five years now. I know many of the teachers; I love the families and the community-feel; I trust the administrators and know my way around the school building. Yet, despite increased familiarity, each year at back to school time, “the weirds” return.
I experience the sadness over the passing of time and the regret of what I wish I had done or not done. I taste the happiness of what is to come—a little more margin in my schedule, the excitement over what my kids will learn, the friendships they will develop, the memories we will make, the adults who will pour into their lives, and how they will grow. Every year I can’t believe how fast it’s flown by and how “just yesterday” they were doing that cute little one-armed army crawl across the living room floor and waking up every three hours at night. And then without even realizing it, I’ll randomly miss my turn or swipe instead of insert the chip (Every time. Eye roll.) because they are on my mind and I cannot think straight.
What I’ve come to realize is a mama’s heart is weighty. Whether you are sending your children to public school, private school, boarding school, college, or home school—whether you mourn the long, summer days spent with your kids, or celebrate when you have a break from each other, there’s no dodging “the weirds.” In times of transition, our mama hearts only grow heavier in awareness.
As “release day” approaches each fall I am tempted not to send the picture of my no-make up, gym clothed, self to my friend and I start to feel ashamed of “the weirds”—like maybe they are something I need to get over and conquer. But if I don’t send the picture, then I miss some good stuff. You see, my kids will never feel the same degree of weighty parent love toward me, their mama. They can’t; it’s not meant to be that way. But they have a mama who loves them so deeply that her love is beyond words—and yet it’s still a mere shadow in relation to my Father’s love for them…and for me.
The feelings I can’t express point to God’s own heart toward me.
What’s the weight of God’s heart for me? THE DEATH OF HIS OWN SON. CHRIST HIMSELF…that I might be his beloved daughter who he adores and can’t get off of his mind.
So I take the picture, because if I don’t—see what I miss? I miss a literal coming to the Father in my mess, with all “the weirds,” and seeing that I’m so heavy on his heart that he DIED and ROSE AGAIN to rescue and restore my soul. I miss the chance to see that in some small and imperfect way, I reveal his heart to those around me when I embrace the heaviness of sending my kids back to school. I miss the chance for more intimacy with God because when I know what he thinks of me, then I’m wooed to greater trust—to release both my babies and my heart into his loving and good hands. And after I send that picture and drop off my kiddos, then I’ll race to Publix to roam the aisles…ALONE!
About the Author:
Meg is a southeastern nomad, claiming Jackson, Mississippi and now Birmingham, Alabama as home. She loves working with middle school students during a summer academic camp through a partnership with Urban Hope PCA in Fairfield, Alabama. She and her husband, Brian, are members of Oak Mountain Presbyterian where Meg serves on the Women’s Shepherding Team. They enjoy cheering for the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Dallas Cowboys with their two sons.