I just volunteered for the very last time at my daughters’ elementary school. I am hanging up my hall pass. I am finished with Kindergarten “centers” and cutting along the dotted lines. I will no longer help little hands hold glue guns and place bottle caps and pom-poms on paper. I will not be sitting with children editing creative writing and assisting with science experiments. I will no longer be helping tie shoes, helping with fractions, teaching site words or explaining challenge words. I will not be one of the moms working at or planning class parties or helping to grade papers. I will no longer be wiping noses or scooping ice cream. I will no longer be dressing in costume as “Mystery Reader” or editing ten-page fifth grade research projects. I will no longer be an elementary school mom.
For ten years and three daughters and many wonderful teachers I have helped at our elementary school. I have spent countless hours of time in many classrooms watching my daughters and their friends learn, socialize and grow. I have watched them laugh and ponder. I have watched them bite their lips in frustration and watched their eyes grow wide with wonder. I have watched them make friends and lose friends and love teachers and not be so crazy about other teachers. I have watched them grow taller and wiser and I have watched them become themselves. I have looked on through thousands of games of conversation heart bingo and helped decorate a gazillion iced cookies. I have watched them shed tears when bullied and glow when complimented. I have seen them stand tall with perfect test scores and slink low when they got out during a spelling bee. I have hugged and held and stood back and let go. I have made many mistakes and done some things right and grown because of it. I have often wondered if elementary school better taught my children to be good students or better taught me to be a good mom?
I admit that on some days when I was tired I wondered, “Why am I helping kids balance scales with wood blocks?” or “Do they really need me here today to grade spelling tests?” But every scale and every spelling test was a time I was in a classroom with one of my children. A time I was watching them in their element, seeing them interacting at their grade level, and just simply being near them. And, the best part? ALWAYS getting a hug and a HUGE smile from them whenever I walked into their classroom, and often one from their friends too.
It was these hugs and these smiles that year after year when the volunteer sign-up sheets came out on paper I was one of the first to grab them, and year after year when the computer “Sign up Genius” began I always put myself down for as many slots as I could. And thank goodness I did! THANK GOODNESS because now I am done and I have no idea where the time went. Where did the ten years I had go? The fast, disappearing ten years I got to be present for my daughters in elementary school? The years to be there, to watch, to sit with them, to know what they were doing, to see what they were learning? These years are gone. Thank goodness I was there and did not miss them. Thank goodness I did not choose work, or coffee, or the gym, or friends over these times. Thank goodness because work and coffee and the gym and friends can always be a part of my life, but elementary school cannot. Is not.
And after elementary school? Middle school and high school just do not have opportunities for moms to help with their kids, be hands on, have a child in our lap during story time or a child beaming at us while they present their report to the class. Middle school and high school do not have opportunities to see our child throughout the day, to walk into their class at any given time, to be present in their school day, to show we care.
I am at the end of my elementary school era. I have mixed emotions… tears well up because my girls are so old and I just want to hold on to their youth, but my heart swells with pride at the young women they are becoming. I love watching my middle schooler grow into her own and my high schooler find her passions. I have great times now and I have great times ahead, but elementary school is over.
My soul fills with thanks for the elementary school that gave me the opportunity to be so present in my girls lives, the teachers who welcomed me into their classrooms with open arms and the community that was so supportive of making our public elementary school so incredibly amazing.
I will miss this school. These teachers. This community. I will miss being in the classroom with my daughters. I will miss seeing the innocence of elementary school children. It is the end of an era but also a new beginning. I find joy now in many other pieces of my daughters lives and always will, but elementary school days I will miss.
And as I sit here with tears in my eyes and pride in my heart, I pass on to any of you moms out there a reminder of how VERY short our times as moms are. How very fast our children grow. I encourage you get into that school! Sit down with your child! Seize every opportunity you have! And while gluing or cutting or editing or helping with math may not be your favorite thing to do, it might become so when you are doing it with your child. And while sitting on a bumpy school bus on a field trip may upset your stomach, I bet you it will gratify your heart because soon you will be walking out of your elementary school days as I am and you probably will never sit on a school bus again.
I am so lucky and so grateful because I truly wouldn’t change one thing I did during my daughters’ elementary school years. Not one thing. I volunteered in every one of my daughter’s classrooms, I made them all do half-day kindergarten so I could spend afternoons with them, I saw every one of their class shows/concerts/projects/presentations, I went to every class party, I participated in many field trips. I was a part of every single year my daughters were at that school and am so very, very thankful.
I do not say these things to brag or boast or say what a great mom I was. I say these things because for me, what is more important than being a mom? What in my life has more meaning? More importance? What is nearer to my heart than my three girls? Absolutely nothing! How grateful I am, what a blessing it is for me to have been such a part of my girls’ elementary school lives. I just hope at the end of the rest of their “eras” (as there will be many!) I can say the same and hope that they can say so as well.
Goodbye CHVE. Thank you, thank you, thank you, times three.
Happy, Happy Mother’s Day to all you amazing moms out there. May you enjoy every day, every era, every moment…and hold on tightly!