By Melissa Ford
Commencing with a rush of excitement and concluding with a deep sigh of relief are what I like to refer to as “the emotional bookends” of summer - at least from my parenting perspective. Those same feelings still exist even today when my youngest returns home from college for the summer and now, has journeyed back to school.
Even during their elementary years, I vividly recall those first back-to-school days when I’d escort my son and daughter onto the school playground to meet their new teachers and classmates, snapping photos, and chatting with other neighborhood parents as we hovered protectively around our kids.
I’d watch as other parents got teary-eyed, and I would wonder if they were secretly happy their kids were back in school. I know I was but I kept it under-wraps until I reached home, delighting in the quiet of a kid-free zone!
I was HOME ALONE!
But there was always that nagging thought: should I feel so exuberant!? Were other mothers taking pleasure in their alone time? Reveling in the sheer joy of solitude!?
Unbeknownst to me a secret celebration has been going on for years in households across the nation. . . even as far back as Alberta Mechley’s days.
Alberta (who passed away in 1998 at the wise age of 90!) is the grandmother to Susan Lucci, a River Forest resident and dynamic, trailblazing woman. Lucci recently confirmed that she, too, carries on a ritual of celebrating the first day of school, just like Grandma Alberta did years ago.
Here’s what Lucci had to say about her family’s back-to-school tradition:
The first day of school was my grandmother's absolutely favorite day of the entire year - better even than Christmas, she used to say and deservedly so: grandma parented 12 kids in a two-bedroom house. While I am mother to a mere three children in an luxurious 5-bedroom house, I honor her memory each fall by thoroughly savoring the return of the rhythm of the school year.
Each year before school started, my own mother took us out to buy a new pair of shoes, a new uniform and a backpack. I continue this tradition with my trio, including taking the obligatory first day of school photos at the front door - sporting all the new gear, just like mom used to do. And then they are off, diving into another new chapter of their lives.
From the threshold, I watch until they disappear into the distance and then go inside to relish the first moments of absolute peace and quiet in months, breathing deeply and awaiting the annual phone call from my dad who cheers "Happy best day of the year!" in honor of my grandmother and all mothers who do so very much for their children. The circle of life continues.
As the school year commences with a rush of excitement and a deep sigh of relief - how do you celebrate all you do for your children? Do you have a favorite first day of school tradition?
Here’s wishing you a “Happy best day of the year!”