Begin Again

August 17, 2014

It's the night before the first day of school.  It's sort of like Christmas Eve.  There's lots of planning to be done, lots of details that should not be overlooked.  Kids are excited (teacher-moms are, too). 

I just finished reading "Dear First-Time Kindergarten Mom" which propelled me into emotion overload.  You see, this year is new territory for us.  We have a Senior and a Freshman.  I've always known this would be the only year I ever have two girls in the same building, and it always seemed so far away.  Now it's here and I almost wish it wasn't.  So, two girls in high school -- this is new and I'm sure it will be unbelievably fun.  I hope.  But, let's don't forget Lilah, our second grader.  As my husband has said more than once lately, "We were so close!" (as in so close to freedom!).  He's kidding, of course.  We wouldn't change our setup for the world. 

Anyway, in true Jennifer fashion, I am on the verge of becoming a weepy mess.  These are pivotal years for at least two-thirds of my children.  Here are some thoughts for each one of them as they head off tomorrow into 2014-15.

Lilah Grace --
You are in second grade!  You are almost eight years old!  I know you are excited to begin your year with TWO teachers instead of one.  That means you're growing up.  I remember second grade vividly.  I was in Mrs. Gipson's room -- you have met her; she is one of Mimi's dear friends.  Mimi's classroom was right across the hall, and it was pretty neat being so close to her.  Ask me to show you a picture of her dressed like an Indian for our Oklahoma celebration that year. 
In second grade I remember really being a reader.  I remember hatching chick eggs in an incubator.  I remember listening to Mrs. Gipson read us a chapter of Charlotte's Web every day.  I still have friends from second grade!  You will have wonderful experiences this year, too.  You are growing up so quickly and I am so proud of you.  You are so funny.  Right now you love all things American Girl and My Little Pony.  You would love to have your own YouTube channel like Bratayley, but I just don't think I'm up for that.  You have made lots of friends since starting school.  Even though I know you have your moments at home with us, I believe you are kind to others.  I see that at church when you interact with the children who ride the bus, and I especially noticed that this summer when we served lunches.  I hope you will always have a smile for anyone who glances your way.

I am glad we have you!  I am glad that even though Daddy and I didn't plan on having any more children, God had other plans. 

Molly Seven --

You are starting high school this year!  This may be more difficult for me that Parker being a Senior.  You are our miracle baby.  It is through your birth and your surgeries and your challenges that I have learned to really trust the Lord. 

Ninth grade was my first year of high school, too.  I was so awkward and so not-cute.  I second-guessed everything, and, though others may have had a different impression, I completely lacked confidence in being myself.  You don't seem to really struggle with that like I did.  I'm glad.

This year will be a big deal.  For the first time you'll have friends who are not in your grade.  You will gain a little more independence, but do not think you are grown yet!  You will have some challenging classes -- I am glad.  Dad and I do not expect straight A's, but we do expect you to work hard and to soak up everything your teachers want you to learn. 

This year you will probably find that some of your friends and acquaintances will make bad choices.  That is perfectly normal, but that does not mean that you should follow along! I hope you will stand on your own two feet, that you will remember Whose you are, and that you will get through this year with very little regret.  Regret doesn't always come from bad choices, though.  Regret can also come with missed opportunities.  Please take some risks and try all the things you want to try! 

Your middle name is unique, I suppose.  In the bible, the number seven represents perfection and completion.  Every day you are moving toward both of those!  Enjoy your Freshman year!

Parker Jane --

You are our "best first thing!"  I have thought a lot this summer about what I want to happen for you next year, but as I've been studying the idea of "surrender" in bible study, I have decided that I am going to try to surrender my hopes and dreams in favor of what the Lord had planned.  You are actually lying on my bed right now as I type at my desk.  You have had an afternoon with Ryan and your friends.  You have been at church this evening to make plans for the launch of our youth group's new concept.  This time next year we will be moving you into a dorm.  I can't even wrap my mind around what that will be like. 

My senior year seems like yesterday, so you can imagine it feels more than a little strange to have a child who is a senior.  Dad and I had been dating almost a year.  I was a cheerleader.  I worked part-time at our church's daycare after school.  I was not pushing myself academically -- a regret I still carry.  I maybe wasn't making great choices, but I was having a whole lot of fun.  I didn't realize that I could have had a whole lot of fun making better choices.  I had all but stopped going to church.  That, too, is a regret I carry.

You, however, are making pretty good choices.  We've had a few hiccups along the way, but you're a quick study.  It is my prayer that you will just continue along the path you've been forging for yourself.  Last year was sort of a breakthrough year.  In the yearbook, you were asked how you'd changed from last year (or something along those lines).  Your reply was that your views on a lot of things had changed.  I agree.  Quite a bit of growing up occurred last year.  You got a part-time job (you work for the BEST people around).  You got a car (I know it's 13 years old, but it's dependable and without any major flaws in its appearance).  You pay for your gas each week and you've learned to budget your money pretty well.  You began dating Ryan, another good choice!  I am thankful that you have a young man who treats you with respect.  All in all, it was a stellar junior year!

This year is it.  This is the end of your K-12 education.  I am filled with unbelievably complicated feelings about not having been a good enough mom, not having done everything "right," and not having made enough memories before you move on to the next phase.  What you need to know is I have done my best.  You are so much like me, but you are so much better than me in so many ways.  You have a drive that I don't have.  You will have 18 or so college credit hours when you graduate high school.  You have already begun researching medical schools.  On that note -- I will do everything I can to help you reach your goal.  I do not want you to settle for less because you think it will be difficult or expensive.  On the other hand, if you have a sense that you need to change directions, I will support that -- I think ;)

I hope you have the best of senior years!  Enjoy the people around you.  This year will be the last time you sit down next to many of them.  Pay attention to the grownups around you.  They have more wisdom than you imagine they do.  Find some time for us as well.  Lilah will spend the next ten years here without you being here full-time.  Act like you know Molly at school.  Maybe even make it a point to hang out with her.  And, don't forget us.  We are not perfect parents, but we're all you've got! 

You girls are my favorites!  Let's have a wonderful year!

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