The first day of school this year feels just like a Sunday night
By Emanuel parent, Lana Hirschowitz
There’s a Sunday night feeling in the air around this time of the year, the holidays are over and routine is seeping back into the every day. We all know what day of the week it is and the traffic on the roads has increased to its normal level of chaos. And while some parents may have an extra spring in their step because the school holidays are over, my Sunday night feeling is more pervasive than most.
To recall that Sunday night feeling just think about that time, usually on a Sunday evening when you’ve had a great weekend filled with great friends, exciting activities and a sense of huge freedom and then Sunday night comes and work and real life looms ahead of you. I associate that feeling with a small amount of dread, a feeling of heightened anxiety about the end of something good and a sense of foreboding about what is to come. This is when my anxiety speaks most loudly.
This week as my son returns to school for his last year I am swimming in Sunday night feelings. It’s a huge milestone — the last year of school. And, for a parent like me who has only one child, the first time you go through something with your child is also often the last. I am processing this feeling for the first time knowing I’m never going to get a chance to do this again.
Wasn’t it last month that he started school in his crisp white shirt with a hat three sizes too big and a smile that could melt an ice cap? When he held my hand as he walked into school and glued himself to me just before gathering his strength and immersing himself into school life?
It feels like weeks ago that I sat in reading groups on the carpet in his classroom listening to him and his friends make their way through their first readers. It feels like last week when he stood on the stage at his final primary assembly and yesterday when he started high school. A few hours ago he chose his HSC subjects and started driving himself to school.
And it’s not just him I am thinking about today, it’s all the children he started school with. The kids who he befriended in those first days and who have remained so close I now see them as an extension of our family. Those friends who have been through this long ride from year k to year 12 and, although there have been obstacles and hurdles along the way, are still riding strong as we come to the finish line, those friends whose parents have become an integral part of my life.
I have, with determination and intent, defined my role primarily as a mother over the past 18 years. It has been my biggest joy and the achievement of which I am most proud. I have never wanted a job as much as I wanted the role of mother and I have never had the satisfaction in work as I have had in raising my child.
There is more than one way to measure success and successfully getting my child to this step, the last milestone before adulthood feels like a huge success.
But it also feels like Sunday night, this last first day of school.
All the parenting, the excellent schooling he received, his solid and awe-inspiring friendships, the love he has been surrounded in and the hope that lies before him means that he is now on the verge of adulthood. It means that my role as parent is about to change.
I can’t help feeling a small amount of fear about the changes to come, not for him because, in spite of me, he has grown into a strong and independent young man, but for me.
My role is about to change and maybe that is when my anxiety really speaks most loudly.
And as we start this last year of school, I tell myself even though it’s Sunday night in my heart — tomorrow will be Monday and I have lived through thousands of Sunday nights before.