The countdown is on. Schools in Fairfax County, Va., will open doors to thousands of kids on Sept. 7. The laidback summer days will soon give way to rushed mornings, fretting about breakfasts and scheduled bedtimes. Once again, the school hallways will be full of groups with trendy backpacks, cool clothes and new shoes. Amidst waves of smiling countenances, there will be two girls, nervous and apprehensive. It’s not just the beginning of a new school year for them; it’s the dawn of a new life at a new school. Unfortunately, they won’t have the comfort of each other’s presence. While one will attend middle school, the other has a few years left in elementary school.
Back to school has always been a season of mixed emotions for me as a mother. While a part of me celebrates having my time, the other misses the laughs, yells, sobs and conversations.
This year, I’m in jitters. It’s like leaving them at preschool for the first time. However, the story was different then. Not only were they younger, they didn’t have any expectations. Today, the transition bothers them. The worries aren’t about new teachers and classes, it’s about moving to a new state altogether. With not a single familiar face in sight, I can visualize them uncomfortable and edgy as the teacher asks them to pick a lunch buddy or a friend to sit with.
The move was not sudden. Victims of the financial recession in 2008, we lost our business and our only source of livelihood. Hopeful about a better future, my husband and I fought against all adversities, pulled up our socks and found work in Virginia. We tried our best to keep the kids away from the mental ordeal and turmoil, except for the move. The girls were given a year to mentally organize and accept the novel circumstances.
However, it takes a while to accept change.
Today, the moments are agonizing, the day endless for the girls. Deep down, perhaps they feel resentment and anger. Nevertheless, one day as mature adults, they will appreciate our decision. After all, they are in a better place.
We’re trying our best to make them comfortable under the given circumstances. Shopping has been therapeutic. Seeing their faces light up as they pick their favorite backpacks, lunch kits, shoes and clothes makes every moment worth it. School tours and open houses helped. I liked how the school authorities put them at ease. Hesitant at first, they held by my side. It wasn’t long before I noticed a sudden swiftness, as the girls eagerly mingled with the group of new folks. I took a step back and watched them with joy as they explored.
I keep telling myself that things will be fine. After all, in the words of Mitch Albom, “All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”