Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cheers and Tears

A sacred event is taking place in our community today. Little minds and bodies are filing back into classrooms, toting backpacks twice their size, feeling excitement and jitters, making first impressions and new friends. There is just something wholesome about going back to school. It seems to bring out the best in everyone. Parents, kids, and teachers alike put their best foot forward. There is anticipation in the air. Hope is palpable. Something good is going to take place. I love new beginnings. But, in my world, the good always comes with the bad (and sometimes the ugly). Everything in life has two sides…

The first day of school could not have come too soon. My house had been inching toward anarchy as the summer waned. As much as I wanted to relish the last few lazy, hazy days of summer and cherish the reason I am a stay-at-home mom, I could not get excited about another minute without order! The kids became increasingly energetic, and I became increasingly irritable. I need my routine. Summer is fun for a while, but all good things must come to an end. Hasn’t anybody ever read The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Vacation?!

Yesterday my girls attended their first gymnastics class. It was a nice kick-off to our fall schedule. They absolutely loved it. I had a blast watching them and remembering my own days as a gymnast. I was transported to 1984. I recalled the smell of the sweaty warehouse in August, cooled only by the humming of a few industrial-sized fans. I remembered warming up on the balance beam to the music of Huey Lewis and the News. It was a carefree time. Caroline and Mary Claire’s experience was no exception. They bounded out of the gym chattering about what next week’s lesson has in store.

If only the jumping around had ended in the gym, perhaps we would have been spared the near-ER-worthy injury that occurred when Mary Claire decided to play monkey bars in our house. The audible thump from upstairs clued me in, followed by the scream and the blood dripping from her ear. Good times. It was a fun afternoon…until it wasn’t fun anymore.

Things often do not go as planned. We had lunches packed and clothes washed and ironed. Backpacks were hung by the chimney with care. But, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that I would be gingerly rinsing dried blood out of my child’s ear and trying to fix her hair without touching her head on the morning of the first day of school. That threw a wrench in things for sure.

By the grace of God, we all managed to maintain a positive attitude this morning, but there was a dichotomy present that I have become quite familiar with in recent years. From the physical to the emotional, good and bad coexisted in an uncomfortable harmony. Like a dissonant chord. It’s musical, but something is out of place. It needs to be resolved.

This morning was supposed to be Audrey’s first day of kindergarten. As Bryan took pictures of the girls on the front porch, I couldn’t help but fill in that third spot with another blond head dressed in her best clothes toting a backpack too big for her little body, feeling excitement and jitters, ready to make first impressions and new friends.

At school, kindergarten parents parted ways with their tiny students and marched into the library for the annual “Cheers and Tears Breakfast”. To me, this says it all. The dichotomy of life. The good with the bad (and the ugly). Cheers and tears. Holding hands, Bryan and I also marched along…right past the library, looking in and wondering. Cheering and shedding tears of our own.

As I left, I couldn’t help but think that experiences like these, ones where that dissonant chord plays in my life’s song, are reminders that I long for my Heavenly home. Not only a home where Audrey gets to attend her first day of kindergarten, but also a home where every aspect of life is no longer fraught with that bittersweet dissonance. A wholesome place where everyone puts their best foot forward. A home where anticipation is in the air and hope is palpable. A place where something good is sure to happen. A home where good exists without the bad (and the ugly) and, finally, it all is resolved.

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