The Free Motion Quilting Project: Back to School

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School

It really is that time again...back to school for another year.

James has been ready to go back to school for several weeks, waking up at 8 am with the pipping question "Can I go to school today Momma?!" If he had it his way, he would have started on August 12th and attended every day, even Saturdays and Sundays!

But this year, I've found myself a little sad to see the summer end and the school year begin. This morning as I saw James off, I gave him an extra big hug and marveled at just how big my baby has gotten.

This photo to the right was taken on his very first day of preschool 4 years ago. At the time, my 18 month old was still unsteady on his feet, had about 6 teeth in his head, and didn't talk at all. How much can change in 4 years? Everything!

It's funny how this summer has both been very short and very long at the same time. Never before have I been slightly caught off by the start of the school year.

While it might sound bad to say that I usually mark the days like a man on death row, I usually look forward to the fall all summer because it means a return of sanity: schedules that keep us organized with a daily routine.

To say it straight: I like a schedule. The summer break time usually grates against my desire to organize things because it's the very definition of unorganized.

But this year I'm a little sad to see the summer go. James will be starting his 4th year in preschool and my mind can't help make the comparison that these 4 years have flown by just as fast as his last 4 years in high school will fly by.

So even though this isn't James's last year in preschool, it's a year that is making me think and take note.

I think this is the first year that James will remember his first day of school, remember the kids he plays with, and remember the experiences that stand out good or bad.

Until now, I've kind of felt like I had a "get out of jail free" card because James was just too little to remember. Why bother with Easter Egg hunt? He won't remember it, anyway. Why bother with the picture with Santa? He'll just cry the whole time and thank goodness he won't remember it anyway.

All of a sudden, that excuse doesn't fly anymore and my big boy is now in the realm of memory and every day is a new and lasting experience. I now need to step up to the plate and start paying more attention to the passage of time and what memories my little boy will grow up to remember.

Do I want him to remember watching TV every day after school, or playing in the yard? Do I want him to remember that momma's sewing room was off limits, or a place he was welcome to play and color beside me? Do I want him to remember me as always working, working, working, or having the ability to play too?

So often when I talk about this kind of thing I get responses along the lines of "Oh, don't be so hard on yourself! You're doing a great job! You're a great mom!"

I might be pretty good, but I could always be better.

From the time James was born, I've managed to do a lot around his schedule, and now I'm going to try to get most of my work done during his preschool hours so after school, at least 2 days a week, we can do something fun together.

Whether it's a simple trip to the park or a longer drive to a kid's museum in Forest City, I know these days will stand out for James, just like the days I spent handing out in my Dad's shop stand out in my memory now.

What I wish I'd seen from the day James was born is that it's never to early to start making memories, but it can be too late.

If I hadn't taken the time to take this photo this morning, I might not have seen and realized just how fast time is passing. In the trenches of parenting, it can be easy to feel like this period of snotty noses and sticky hands will last forever, but it really doesn't.

4 years ago, my little boy couldn't talk more than a few single words. This morning he yelled "Bye bye Momma! I love you! Have a good day!"

We can't stop time passing, or our children growing up, but hopefully we can take a bit more time to notice and appreciate it.

Now if I'm going to make the best use of the 3 hours I have, I'd better get into the sewing room!

Let's go quilt,



  1. You're wise to know now how quickly the time flies. I was so busy when my two boys were little, that all of a sudden I turned around and they were waving good bye and off on their's hard to wish you could have done things differently. James is lucky.

  2. When my four kids were growing up, I always took a "First Day of School" picture, even when they were off to college!
    It would probably make a cool album if I scanned all those photos and printed them.

  3. The beginning of a new school year is always bitter-sweet! Enjoy your quilting time and your mommy time today!

  4. I love your blog, Leah - for so many reasons!

  5. Good post. My 'baby' will be going to her first day of grade 12 tomorrow - and that seems like it's too soon!!!

    Enjoy your time alone and with him - and then the time when you are busy with him right beside you!! They are pretty smart you know, and they can hang out without 'touching'!!
    I realized this with my kids. 'My' stuff, I could leave out and they wouldn't even notice it. Friends kids come over, suddenly, I had to put EVERYTHING away!!!! And since your 'work' is where you live, and he already knows this, half the battle, if you want to call it that!?! - is already won. He will be able to find his nitch and you will make a great realationship, even better!!

    Now, go enjoy your 3 hrs and don't forget to smile!!!!

  6. Although during difficult times, you think that your children will never grow up fast enough and you wish you had more time to yourself etc. etc. the day comes when they leave and are "gone" forever. If you are lucky and they live nearby and see them daily or at least often....they still will be adults and not your little darling children. You are so lucky to have begun to realize how precious and short these years with them are. Once they "fly into adulthood" they are gone forever.

    Miss my little kids today. They now are in their 30s and live across the country. :(

  7. He is getting to be a big boy! My DH's family always took first day of school photos too :)

    They do grow up so fast--my oldest child is now 26 and it is amazing to realize how quickly it all passed by once he hit double digits! Enjoy their youth, it is such a short time.

  8. So true. My son just graduated from h.s. and I already miss the schedule and the "knowing" that he's there. Sometimes I tell him I wish he could remember all the things we've done together, all the zoos and picnics. I'm thinking that those memories are for us to keep and the time we spent doing the activities is to help mold our little people. Have a great Thursday!

  9. Thank you for posting this. My 11 month old has spent the last 10 days with the flu and some crazy teething. It does feel like a slog and it is hard not to pine after the free time and peaceful nights that were there before the baby, especially as a person who has always deeply valued her "alone time". But even in 11 months, he has changed and grown so much and I'm sure I will be looking back years from now feeling like the time sped by. As much as I value my hobbies and career, they won't be the things that I wish I spent more time on!

  10. I've been out of town helping with my mom, and am just catching up on reading older blog posts.
    I truely enjoyed this one, thanks for the smile.
    My only advice for you came to me from my oldest sister, and it is the best advice i've ever had...Spend the first 10-15 minutes when they come home with them. No matter what you are doing or how you feel, just stop and focus on them. They need to tell you about their day. Sometimes it is only a few minutes, sometimes it's 15 minutes after they get home, but when they come to tell you, stop and listen. Some times you may be peeling apples or some simple task that will not require you to stop. Sometimes that is good too, They may need to tell you something that they don't want to look you in the eye to say (the message is too intense or personal for direct eye contact) Those few minutes will be an anchor of your relationship, they'll know you are there to listen, and are important enough that you will take time for them. Always listen with an open heart, even when your mind says NO.
    Blessings in your parenting :o)


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