I knew today was coming. Not because the calendar told me, but because the teenager told me. Over and over and over and over again. And with all that reminding, you would think I was ready. Ready to be a mom of a kid in junior high. Ready to petition for a 504 plan or an IEP for the middle child. Ready to watch the oldest get on a bus and ride to a different school that can offer him what he needs… albeit 50 minutes away from home.

No, I was not ready.

Not for junior high.

Not for 4th grade.

Not for any of it.

So when the alarm went off at 4:45 this morning, I shut it off. And again at 5 a.m. And every nine or so minutes after that. With each termination of each alarm, I calculated how much time I had left to fit in two workouts and possibly a run before having to drop Esther-Faith at daycare and make an eight o’clock conference meeting at work.

Just before 6 a.m., I realized Tim was no longer beside me. And a few minutes later, I realized that I would have to reschedule my day in order to get in all that I had planned. The panic of not actually being able to fit it in forced me out of bed.

And then I smelled the pancakes.

And the coffee.

And I heard the children.

I sat down on the bed. Half-dressed. Not at all ready to pull out of the driveway. And I cried. For the year that has passed. The year that is starting. The anticipation. And the nervousness. For how much they have grown. And how much they will grow this year.

I finished dressing, dried my hair, and made my way downstairs. The kids were eating the pancakes Tim made them for breakfast. A far cry from the typical cheerios and banana. There was hot, fresh coffee. Smiling boys in new clothes. The squeak of new tennis shoe tread.

Everyone, it seemed, was beyond excited. Even Esther-Faith who doesn’t start school until next week. Knowing I was on my way out the door, Tim grabbed the camera and snapped some shots of the kids in front of the house.

It gave me a minute to take it all in. And a moment to be grateful that I was leaving first. I think the boys were happy, too. They knew that if I was seeing them off, I would have followed them onto the bus. Talked to the kids. Given the bus driver “the rundown.”

They know I would have delayed the inevitable for as long as possible.

But Tim saw them off.

Isaac first. His bus was 25 minutes late.

Then Isaiah. His bus was 50 minutes late.

Tim was late to work.

And coming home, Isaac was close to on time. But Isaiah’s bus 65 minutes late. Yes. ONE HOUR, FIVE MINUTES LATE.

By five minutes late, I was getting nervous. I baked a cake. Isaac gathered Isaiah’s soccer things. We wandered around the house. Tim beat Isaiah home. He helped me wander the house. And bake the cake. And be nervous.

Once he made it home, he threw his school stuff into the pantry, yelled to me that he had a great day, grabbed the soccer stuff Isaac had set by the door, and ran out the door again to soccer practice.

To practice with the “GOLD” team.

The elite travel team.

And last night, he was gone for a couple of hours at youth group.

And in the meantime, he’s growing into a man. Nearly as tall as me. Handsome if not a little gangly. Two weeks ago, he got braces. Last week, new glasses. This week, a new wardrobe (because his no longer fit!).

It seems the older he gets, the more I become aware of how little time we have left with him. Maybe that’s common sense. Or just plain obvious. But because we didn’t have the first seven years, the urgency to love him as completely and absolutely as possible during the next four-and-a-half years is especially strong.

Which is why I’m a little proud that he chose a pink shirt this morning–to honor his sister. And he gave his brother a little extra attention during the obligatory first-day photos. Sure, he was WAY hyper. But he was also VERY excited–even though he knew he wouldn’t know anybody. Even though he knew school and classes would look very different for him this year. Even though he actually didn’t know what to expect. He tried. And he succeeded.

And that is all we can ask. That is all we DO ask.

That he takes life one day at a time.

One class at a time.

One choice at a time.

One moment at a time.

And as I watched him race out the door so that he wouldn’t miss a minute of soccer practice, I realized I should take more of my own advice.

To take the next four-and-a-half years one moment at a time.

(written the first day of school… August 25. But is it is good for me to remember to take things one moment at a time…)

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