First day of school. There’s nothing quite like the start of the school year to reflect on the passing of time. During my school-age and university-aged years, September always felt more like the natural start of a year than New Year’s Day. It’s the start of a new grade, new subjects, new teachers, new school supplies and clothes…nothing quite gave the feeling of a blank slate of opportunity than the first day of school. It was an exciting, energizing, if slightly anxious, feeling.
When I became an adult and joined the working world, the reset-button feeling of September faded from memory as the months and years blurred together. The feeling that September brought was of some irritation as the traffic on the roads were noticeably and considerably heavier than in the prior summer months, but otherwise life went on. New Years and birthdays passed, but it felt like aging was put on indefinite hold. A pause button instead of the reset button.
Fast forward a few more years, and now I have school-aged kids (aged 8 and 6) of my own. They change so much every 6 months that it really feels like life is being played at 2x speed. Their shrinking clothes and shoes play tricks on me, because they certainly can’t grow that fast that quickly, can they? And yet their weight is heavier while sitting on my lap. Their faces are higher in the view of the car’s rear-view mirror. Their stories and imagination are so vivid and complex. These tell me that no, this is not a trick.
The passage of time for me is now marked by their milestones—their birthdays, their first days of school at the beginning of September. Another new grade: new classroom, new teacher, new configuration of classmates, and subjects to learn. September to my daughters is like a reset button again. For me, however, it’s turned into a stationary marker that whizzes past me and makes me realize how fast the years are passing. And so I give them extra squeezes, cuddles and kisses, trying to will the tactile memory of their feeling in my arms and lips into the woefully inadequate storage vessel that is my brain. There is no other choice though, there’s no app or solution that can store that feeling in your heart, and in your throat. Quickly now, before another September rolls around.