So this happened.
Yes, I took a back to school picture for a three year old going to a two-day/4-hour preschool. Yes, I made a sign (No, you can’t actually read the sign in the picture.) Yes, I cried on the way to school. All of the things you might imagine. What can I say. I am a cliché parent sometimes.
When you look at this picture, you see little blond headed Caroline, age 3, on the steps of her home in Austin, Texas. But I don’t see that. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I am looking at that picture and only seeing her as a little baby, the rosey cheeked baldy who only minutes before was tucked up comfortably inside me and is now laying in her dads arms. Yes, that picture is still fresh in my mind (how is it three years already?) but that’s not what I see here.
No, when I look at this picture, I see another sweet face. I see a pony-tailed young girl, Rachel, age 5, standing by the sign to Eugene Field Elementary School on her first day of kindergarten. Same image of a little kid with a big backpack. Same beaming grin like you better hurry up and take this picture mom because I am about to run through those doors and start learning. There is a confidence and bravery in her smile and it is about to follow her all the way into the classroom.
Today as I drove Caroline to school I could hear her chattering and singing away, as she has since the second she bounded out of bed this morning announcing “I am going to school today!” I started crying, real tears, streaming down my face and I struggled to wipe them away as casually as I could. But was I sad? Nervous? Scared to let my baby grow up and go off to school all by herself without me? No, that wasn’t it.
These were tears of joy. My curious and precocious three year old was on her way to school to explore and experiment and share. She will get to try new things, ask tough questions, and be proud of her creations. She will get to learn. And she will do so in a space that is so nurturing of her personality as well as the other little learners around her. How thrilling is that? Watching her walk into her classroom with bravery and confidence made me so nostalgic of my early days of learning. “Back to School” time carried such a buzz of nervous excitement with the guarantee every year that I was going to learn. I was going to grow. I was going to be better each day. I could not contatin my excitement for Caroline getting the chance to experience this for the first time. So I cried.
Education has always been such an integral part of my life. I consider myself a lifelong learner. There is always room in my life to grow and I hope it stays that way. I believe in the power of goal setting in order to allow for this growth and education. I also believe that it is important to set an example for my children that education does not stop at the school doors.
Although I have not been “back to school” for a number of years, there is still something about this time of year that calls me to reevaluate my choices and find room to grow. So in celebration of a new blog platform and in celebration of my daughter’s first day of school, I thought this would be a great time to outline some goals. Setting goals with only 4 months of the calendar year is a bit of a challenge. What can I accomplish in 4 months? But with the vision of the year driving me, I know I need to just Wake Up and do something. Get started. I will have time to reevaluate again in 4 months and maybe set more long term goals. But if I don’t start today I am missing the chance to wake up and get going. It’s time to shine.
But seeing as this is Caroline’s first day of school, I decided it was only right that she should set goals as well. I hope to do some parallel updates on our lives this year. What is Mom up to and what are the littles up to. Today, we’ll take a look at my goals as well as Caroline’s. I gave her my goal and the category but I left her to her own ideas. Without further ado:
Mom…I want to improve on my writing skills by staying on track with blog posts. I hope to do this by maintaining a monthly editorial calendar, scheduling writing times, and also brainstorming new ideas to keep my writing fresh and challenging.
Caroline…I want to learn about sharing books and sharing toys. (I’m sure her teachers had an influence on this today!)
Mom…I want to organize/purge my creative stash setting up a usable space for regular crafting. I want to start more regular photo scrapbooking. This means just start. Don’t wait, don’t try to play catch up. Just do it.
Caroline…I want to do more painting like a dinosaur or a rocketship. (I appreciate the specifics. Makes for good metrics.)
Mom…Organize all the things. This doesn’t mean it has to be a perfect place. Just find a place and then adjust as we live in the space more. Major focus on the Master Bedroom. It is not a relaxing space in its current state.
Caroline…I want to read more books. (I second that goal. Sign me up.)
Mom…Sign up for a half marathon in January. Start scheduled training in November but start building to the training now. Schedule every workout. But if it can’t get done, then at least just move. A walk is still healthier than couch surfing, and tends to make for happier kids.
Caroline…I like climbing so I want to climb a ladder and slide into the pool. (Not sure how we are going to convince the HOA to build a slide at the pool. But can’t blame her for dreaming.)
When asked if she had any final goals, Caroline responded “And that’s it. That’s enough.”
Agreed, Caroline. Sometimes you just have to know when enough is enough.
As I mentioned, these are shorter term goals to be evaluated in January. But I also plan on seeing these goals as launching points for 2016. I hope to share my progress as I move along, because there is no better accountability partner than a blog audience. There is plenty of room to grow, which is an exciting place to be. This is going to be an awesome year of learning in our house. We are all a little nervous, but a lot excited. We’re putting on our brave backpacks and marching into class. What do you hope to learn this year? Happy First Day, whatever that looks like for you!