Today marks the first day of the school year which means that thousands of children are once again leaving their parents to return to another year of learning and experiencing within the school system - spending more time away from their parents than with them. While this is not unusual for many of the children whose parents have chosen to, or had to continue to maintain their paid working life (stopping only briefly to give birth and recover) throughout the children's lives. But for most children who have had long summer holidays, often with their parents and/or grandparents or extended family, the return to school is a time of change and unknown leading to anxiety, excitement and perhaps often a sense of loss: of what could be and is most enjoyable (summer holidays) yet is not (due to the adult world's obsession with learning).
For parents it's something else. For the many, who have put their "other" lives on hold it is bittersweet: in one sense a huge relief to be able to get around to doing those things on the "to do" list that have been forsaken all these weeks of playing, and in another sense a huge loss of that special time with their children (yes I know its not all milk and honey), those firsts that will never come again, all those moments following bugs, watching birds, swimming, eating to the rhythm of the body rather than the rhythm of the clock, and spending so much time in each other's company that each family member has found his or her place and learned more about the places and spaces of the others - rare time and opportunities in a distracted world.
The return to real life can only be smoothed by moments of reflection and appreciation; understanding changes that could be made if we choose to make them, and acknowledging the experiences we have all had and shared that make us who we are, them who they are and us all who we more of who we want to be if we can only stay conscious of all that we have learned and experienced.