Today was the first day of school for Daughter. She has started the second grade. I got her on the school bus this morning without shedding a tear, but inside, I wanted to cry a little for the baby she used to be, the big elementary schooler she is, and for the teenager she will soon become. I know, I know, she’s only 6 years old (soon to be 7). But in many ways, my daughter is so grown up.
Last night, I asked her if she was excited to go back to school today. She said she was, so I asked her why. She said she was excited because there will be a new teacher and new friends to make. A new backpack and new school supplies. The new-ness of new experiences has tickled her fancy. This morning, as she brushed her teeth and as I did her hair, we chatted a bit more about what the day will hold for her. I told her that when she gets off the school bus this afternoon, I expect a full report of her day. I want to hear all about what goes on, so pay attention, dear! I want to hear about her teacher and the friends that she has in her class. I want to hear about lunchtime and if she had Art or Spanish or Gym class today.
From what I can remember, my parents never made a big deal over the first day of school. I don’t have too many “first day” pictures, nor do I remember any of my first days. Because of this, I have become one of those obsessive moms who takes pictures of her child dressed in her “first day of school” clothes, new backpack stuffed with school supplies. I make a big deal about it as we walk to the bus stop (two houses down from our house). I make a big deal (and take pictures) of her getting on and off the bus. I hope to continue to take these pictures until Daughter graduates from high school (embarrassment be damned!)
My mother recently made me a scrapbook which chronicled my educational career (she gave it to me this past Christmas). From law school backwards, there are a few pictures to mark the passage of time. There are graduation day pictures from law school, from college, from high school. There are senior pictures (to which I have to thank the 80s for the wonderful hair and eyeliner), and there are prom pictures (again, awful hair, but damn! I was skinny!) However, the most special pictures to me are the ones that are from my first day of preschool (it is me holding my very first school project…and then on the opposite page is the project itself), and the one of my Kindergarten teacher and me on my first day of Kindergarten. I had never seen these pictures before, and I was surprised my mom had them still. I do not have very many photo albums filled with childhood memories gone by. Maybe this is one of the reasons I have 40 billion pictures of Daughter (ok, not 40 billion, but I am sure I have taken thousands of pictures of her in her 6 years on this planet).
Where my childhood lacked, I’m hoping to make up for the deficiency through my own child. I hope I am providing her with many cherished childhood memories. I hope she remembers me as a mom who, despite being a pain in her ass (which I am sure I will be, because after all, aren’t all mothers pains in our asses?), is a mom who she knows cares and loves her as deeply as a mother could love a child. I hope she realizes that as we march along the calendar of life, that by documenting her milestones and making a big deal of the little things, I am creating memories for her that she will enjoy for a lifetime.