It’s become a fall ritual among a group of mothers at our school. Every first day of the year for the past six or so, we’ve carried it out religiously: the first-day coffee gathering. The tradition has become one of my favorite fall happenings. There’s no better way to spend the first day of the school year than in the company of fellow mothers who’ve experienced similar summertime trials and joys. Ready or not, we enter together into a new year of sideline discoveries watching our children learn and grow. Our coffee gathering serves as the grand kick-off.
But before we can enjoy it fully, we must tend to other details. In our home, generally, our early-bird daughters rise first and begin making breakfast, compiling school supplies and fixing their hair. Eventually, their kitchen noises rouse their slower-moving brothers. After shuffling around a while collecting more items for the upcoming school day, the whole gang collides outside for the obligatory “first day snapshot.” If they’re cooperative (like they were this year), only one shot will be taken, and then it’s time to pile into the van and bang around until bodies and backpacks have settled. At school, cameras click a few times more, hugs are stolen and the daily parting of Mother and child/ren takes place.
I think our school-aged kids have assumed that at that point we mothers simply retreated home, slumped into a chair and, with Kleenex box nearby, pined over the lost days of summer; those now-gone days of easy living. Or, more likely, they’ve assumed nothing at all. At the moment of departure, we simply ceased to exist in their minds until 3:10 p.m., when we reappeared as expected in our minivans. Little do they know that instead of going into an instant depression, we are celebrating at a coffee house a few blocks away. Granted, the emotions that fly that morning are not always celebratory. More often they are a mix of conflicted emotion over what’s to come. No matter the details, no matter the specific blend of happy and sad, those moments are so much more easily embraced and moved through when sitting among ffellow mother friends. And during that first-day coffee, the stories and expressions of hope flow like java from an espresso machine, and it’s a beautiful thing.
I’ll end this entry with a photo I took a just before my last entry but had yet to download. I’ll call it, “End of Summer Blast.”
Speaking of summer’s end, I noticed today while on the way to lunch with a friend that the trees are just starting to take on a slightly golden hue. The color changes have seemed delayed this year, but they’re coming now. I look forward to seeing the red and golden brilliance that will pervade our city a few weeks from now.