It’s back to school season, ya’ll. Summer is fading and sales are aplenty. Excitement and dread fill the air in equal parts, apples are decorative, and grown people are found rocking in the school supply aisle, eyes glazed over and muttering something about folders with brads.
This week my social media feeds have been flooded with first day of school photos, adorable, smiling faces ready to learn, teenagers eager to get away from the camera, parents excited for a little more quiet. It’s a time of anticipation and preparation, of labeling and laminating. Back to school is upon us, and all the parents shouted amen – even though they’re all broke by now from all the back to school buying needs.
But I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to the parents who made it through the first day, who survived it rather than celebrated it.
To the parents of children not with them on this earth, the parents who didn’t get to write their child’s name on a backpack because at some point they had to engrave their name on a tombstone.
To the parents of children who have not yet come, those waiting and crying and desperately wanting their own littles to buy obscene amounts of glue sticks for.
To the parents who don’t get to walk their child to class because their child is wheeled in by an aide.
To the parents whose school year started weeks ago with ARD meetings and IEPs and 504’s.
To the parents introducing their child to yet another new school.
To the parents who are limping across the month of August because the clothes, shoes, gear, supplies, extra supplies, surprise supplies, and lunch staples have drained you of more than you could give.
To the parent who is doing it alone.
To the parents who watch their child walk into a classroom full of saved seats – but not a one was reserved for them.
To the parents who watch their child walk into a classroom full of parents who judge you – and your child.
To the parents who didn’t get to watch at all, because work or health or some other circumstance meant you couldn’t be there.
To the parents who are scared, worried, wondering if their child is able or their teacher is prepared.
To the parents of the bullied – and the parents of the bully.
To the parents of the medically fragile and the emotionally unstable, the academically challenged and the intellectually unchallenged.
To the parents who spend more time advocating than anticipating.
To the parents of the foster kids.
To the parents of the kids repeating a grade.
To the parents of the quirky kids, the overlooked kids, the oblivious kids, the hyper-aware kids. The sensory kids, the allergy kids, the differently-abled kids.
To all the parents who made it through – you did it. You’re not alone, though you’re often overlooked. The work and love you put into getting your child through the doors of that school may not look like everyone else’s, it may not have started when everyone else’s did, and it may not even be complete, but you did it. To all the parents who are a little sad, it’s okay. To all the parents who played off their tears and didn’t vocalize their fears, it’s okay. To the parents who approach the year with trepidation and built-in exhaustion, you’re not a downer, you’re not a curmudgeon, you’re not a pessimist and you’re not a bad parent. It’s just a hard day, and that’s okay. So shout out to you for making it through. Shout out to you for bearing what your child needs and what the world has handed you. Shout out to you for being stronger than most know, even when the tears creep down. Shout out to you for doing what any kid needs regardless of abilities, health, socioeconomic status or social standing – you got stuff done. Shout out to you, parents, for being everything your child needs of you, even when you feel like you’ve failed, and especially when the world just doesn’t get it. Shout out to you for making it to another year, for trying again, for not giving up. Shout out to you… and your amazing kid.