If you’re a parent, you’re likely no stranger to new beginnings.
Since my husband and I had our first child almost six years ago, our lives have been a whirlwind of change. If feels like we are constantly pivoting and learning a new way of living. Just when we finally start to become comfortable and find our ground, we’re already behind the curve and it’s time to grow again.
Our most recent new beginning included our oldest starting kindergarten, our youngest starting a new daycare, and my husband and I both starting new jobs, all within a two-month time period. It was a complete revamp of the way our family lives. We went from our comfortable little cocoon of daycare and 9-5, to a typical (insane) elementary school schedule, a work-from-home, flexible but sporadic schedule for me, and ridiculously early mornings for my husband. Our old routine had been comfortable and familiar for many years, and I tried to maintain parts of it for a while, but it just didn’t work. We were in a new season, and it was time for a change, a new beginning.
I’ve always been a person who craves stability and structure. But I’m learning to love a new beginning too.
Each time life thrusts me into the unknown, I get a chance to grow. I get to expand my perspective and experience an entirely new dimension of life that I never knew existed. And I’ve come to recognize this as a beautiful opportunity.
Take my son starting kindergarten for example. Before my son started kindergarten, the only frame of reference I had for the public school system was my own education back in the ’80s and ’90s in a small rural town outside of Knoxville. Based on those outdated notions, over the months leading up to my son’s first day of school, I’d daydream about how I’d drop him off at school every day. I imagined I’d park right up by the front door and walk my baby inside to his classroom each morning. I’d help him put his coat and backpack away, I’d fix his hair, kiss him good bye and he’d wave at me and blow me kisses as I walked away down the hallway.
So, you can imagine my shock and dismay when I learned that I have to sit in line for 30 minutes every morning amidst a sea of cars, then I get a mere millisecond to scramble to say goodbye and kiss him on the cheek when we finally get to the front door, where he jumps out of the car, runs inside the huge school filled with 1,000 children, and walks to his classroom BY HIMSELF, all without so much as a glance back at me. It took a while for this new reality to sink in with me. BUT, I’ve found that I actually love sitting in that car line, and looking around at all the families around me, all brought together in this sweet little community for the same purpose: to take our babies to their precious school where they will begin their education. I especially love seeing all of the families who park down the street and walk their kids to the door. I get all warm and fuzzy seeing this community coming together every morning and afternoon for our kids.
This all seems so fascinating to me as I am seeing it for the first time. But soon, I know it will just be something that I take for granted — of course he walks himself into school. Of course it’s beautiful chaos in the drop-off line. That’s just how it is. But for this brief period of time while it’s all new to me, I get to really SEE it.
I also had a vision of teachers and educators that was drastically skewed. I’ve always had great respect for these people, but I never really grasped how hard they work, and how important their jobs are. I just didn’t know; I’d never had the opportunity to really SEE it. But based on what I have seen firsthand now, I can fully appreciate what a privilege and a responsibility that teachers have in caring for and teaching and molding and shaping our children. And doing all of that in a way that engages the kids, keeps learning fun, and is tailored to suit a wide range of abilities and needs; it takes a rare and special talent. I’m so thankful that life finally gave me the opportunity to see and appreciate these special people.
I love these first impressions. I love when I get the opportunity to pull the curtain back on something I’m unfamiliar with and learn how things really work. That short and magical period of time when things are new and fresh and you’re introduced to an entirely new system or way of doing things. Even though these times can be a little uncomfortable and intimidating because they are unknown and unfamiliar, they are truly invaluable opportunities to gain new insights, share new experiences, and connect with new and different people.