It’s that time again. I rise with the sun, eager for what this school year will bring, yet sad to see summer end. And on this day, once again, the annual ritual outside my window lures me in.
Across, the street, Liz opens her door, tightening the belt on her blue terry robe as her girls scramble out underneath her arm. Next door, Dawn, toddler on her hip, strolls down the driveway. Her triplets follow behind, turning toward the bus stop, carrying purple lunchboxes and bright pink backpacks—no doubt filled with perfectly tipped crayons, unused glue sticks, and tightly capped markers. Two houses down, Tommy, laced into a pristine pair of white Nikes, races down the sidewalk for his first day of kindergarten. Clutching a large mug of coffee, his mom trails behind.
As my neighbors herd their kids to the end of the street, and one by one, their children disappear into the belly of the bus, a twinge of longing grips my heart. Longing for the serenity of an empty house, an open schedule, and weeks and months to pursue the things I desire. Longing for the novel in my head to emerge on paper this year rather than next.
With a sigh, I drop the curtain and pad to the kitchen where my kids lounge at the table cluttered with notebooks, textbooks, pens and markers. Breakfast dishes mound in the sink and slippers lay strewn across the floor.
Kyle, 16, is showered and dressed—ready to begin the school day no doubt in hopes of moving on to a more exciting endeavor involving a red and black controller. Maddy, 9, remains enamored of learning and is showered, re-pajama-ed, and industriously sharpens her brand new pencils. Alek, 13, unshowered and sporting the same attire as the day before, sprawls with his head down at the table and groans.
“Oops.” Maddy jumps off the chair as her markers clatter to the floor like heavy hail.
I sigh and top off the coffee in my Georgia Bulldogs mug. Add a little cream. Then a little more. The bus will be at school by now. And I envision my neighbors on their second cup of coffee, relaxing in serene and perfect silence.
“I’ll get them, Maddy.” In a rare show of kindness, Kyle reaches underneath his chair to collect the markers as they roll by his feet.
Alek stretches, then runs a hand across a large black book, a half-smile brightening his face. “Can I start with history this morning?”
His smile is contagious and I realize I don’t really want to pack them on the bus. I just crave a quiet moment here and there. Drinking coffee alone is overrated. I don’t really need days and weeks of an empty house. Just an hour every so often.
And maybe God’s timing for my novel is the year 2020.
The right thing isn’t always the easy thing—especially in the midst of daily bickering and the responsibility of vigilance as both parent and teacher. It’s a calling I don’t take lightly, yet I know for now God wants me here. And what I love about Him is that in the most necessary moments, He lifts me up and swathes my heart in grace and joy. “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11 NIV).
The first day of school.
With a smile, I sip my coffee and take a seat between Alek and Maddy. My annual angst has disappeared inside the belly of the bus and chugged away. Maybe next year I’ll look for His joy at this table and skip the activities outside my window. I will live Isaiah 43:19 and forget the former things, stop dwelling on the past, and eagerly await the new thing God is doing!