I finished my job. Summer is over. School starts today.
Today the girl starts Kindergarten. I have raised my two children from their beautiful births, through the twists and turns of early family life, and now I offer them both on the altar of public school.
Seven years ago we had a baby boy, and I began the long and hard road of fathering, parenting, inspiring, and cajoling him toward the grown up world. Five years ago the girl was born, and deepened the complexity of our family circle. I continued bravely forward in my role as meal provider, cleaner upper, social coordinator, and moral compass for these many years. I loved these two children with my whole heart, but made sure to leave room for their beautiful mother. I partnered with her in this grand expedition of family life, courted her, cared for her, and bedded her whenever I could. She and I have had a time, loving and growing these babies into people.
I am not a perfect parent. Many times I lost my patience and lost my way. Often the tethers of home life left me feeling tied, tired, and teetering on the edge of anger, animosity, anguish. I have also had far too many martinis to help me throught the dinner hour, and recycled far too many bottles every trash day. I have lost my temper far too many times, and yelled at my beauties more than I care to admit.
I turned inward during these years, to better take care of my self. My life as an at-home parent looked pretty good. I pursued many interests, built and fixed the house, taught myself new skills. We joined an athletic club, a cooperative preschool, and a new neighborhood in the west hills. I learned to cook, and clean, and care for my brood. I spent many hours out for a run, the well upon which I drew my energy and peace.
My job is not finished, I understand. But today marks the point where I will no longer be the white-hot center of their lives. The preschool years were wonderful. We knew those families, we gave them our trust, we built a warm and loving blanket for all of our children in their growing up years. But Kindergarten is different. I went through this with our boy, and had to learn the hard way. While school can be a nurturing place, it is not always that. There are trials, and challenges, and difficult kids. There are far too many children, and there is far too little supervision. Or maybe that is exactly what they are ready for. School is a melting pot in which to learn exactly who and what they are.
This short piece of writing is really a message - something I am struggling to pass on to my kids. The message is this: I trust you. We have spent these years together. I have tried to model and teach the skills that will get you through this. You are strong, and smart, and built to handle this and so much more to come. You are my children. Even without my help, you have to know that the family genes will give you some special things. You have a good mix of luck, and charm, and smarts. You will grow up to be passionate, and thoughtful, and brave. Your smart mouth will get you into trouble, and your fast legs will carry you away from it.
There are also the things I have tried to teach you. You must try, if you want to world to help you along. And the world will reward your trying. You can get further with a smile than a frown. You are smarter than you think. You can do things for yourself. You are worthy of my time, and, attention, and interest. Not because you are my children. But because you are you. Work hard at something, and you will like yourself all the better for it. You don't need to be the best, just give it your best effort. And only you know what is your best effort. You will win and lose, but try to handle both gracefully. Laughter will save you when nothing else can. And one more - life is fun. Take joy in the everyday, because that is where we live. Travel, people, culture, books, history, science are all worthy pursuits. But they are worthless if you do not enjoy the simple gifts of life. I just took seven years to enjoy them. I wouldn't trade them back.
Good luck, my beauties! But you won't need it. The world is all yours. Now go and get it.