Last first day of school

First day of school photo

Yesterday I took my last “first day of school” photo. I have thirty-nine such photos, thirteen of each child. I’ve stashed them in various places around my house or on the hard drive of my computer. But yesterday’s was the last one. The final picture I would take of my child on his or her way to another year — a year of growing up, of learning in the classroom, of learning about himself.

 

 

With my last one leaving home next year, I will have completed my task of raising my children. It seems as though this is all I’ve ever done, all I was ever meant to do. At the same time, it also seems they were here for just an instant.

It’s strange to reflect that my greatest achievement is essentially done. I’m 50 years old, and I’m done.

I don’t feel “done.” As their first-grade teacher had our older kids chant, “Cakes are done, pies are done, people are finished.” I don’t feel “finished” either, though.

 

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A day at Half Moon Bay

All this contemplation was dragging me down, so I took a personal day. I drove out to Half Moon Bay, ate a good lunch and read Joan Didion. Although foggy and cool, the coast was, as always, serene.

 

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Just being near the ocean gives me perspective on my own small issues.

The waves are always in motion, roiling in and out. It’s a wholly different kind of motion than I see in snowy plover flitting over the sand. Birds are fragile, flighty. But the ocean beats on: constant, timeless.

Let me take my inspiration from the ocean’s strength, tap its depths. My children may flit in and out of my life, but there is more to come, much more.

 

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