I really enjoy the school that my daughters attend, I like the teachers, the location, the curriculum, the families, the activities, almost everything. I enjoy fall – the weather, the leaves, the festivities near us, and the memories that it brings.
But I must confess, each and every fall I still get a feeling in my gut and in my head about ‘back to school’ – I sometimes wish that my girls weren’t going back and that summer would continue. I think some of those feelings are from the days of my youth. Due to some consolidations when I was young, I transferred schools a few times before I was 8. Then, I moved to another city. I went to a few more schools before settling down in high school. Most of the choices and moves were made by my parents but I understand why. I think that I changed schools about 8 times. I was a shy kid and the moves made it harder. I had to start over again with friends and teachers. I can feel that gut feeling now. It is kinda of an empty, alone feeling.
As I try to communicate in my blogs, what can we do about situations like this and what can we learn?
First, it is all about our interpretation and feelings, isn’t it? My parents moved me to better places for the right reasons. I did make friends and I did do well in school. I had a good education and received the benefits I needed and wanted. I also benefited from the moves in such a way that I am now ready and able to take on new projects, situations, groups, presentations because I am now used to the change, the newness of change. I have skills and experiences that others do not. I have used these for my own success and happiness.
Second, we can’t change the fact that summer is ending, fall is coming and school is starting. Why worry about things that you can’t change? So unless we’re going to move to a different climate and/or home school the kids, my wife and I need to move on with our feelings, right? How often in our daily lives do we worry or waste time on things that we can’t change?
Also, that empty, alone feeling – it is just my perception. I still had the same number of friends, family and supporters when I went into a new school. If anything I gained new friends and teachers that cared. To this day I still recall special teachers that made my life more enjoyable and better. I look back at the first few weeks of school for me during those times. There was a period when I’d dread school, the change, talking to new people, and all the new things. Then at some point later, often just a couple weeks, I was into the groove, enjoying life. Things really didn’t change that much but how I interpreted them did change.
Similarly now with my daughters, they’re excited to go, I’ll still see them a lot – and now see them in school activities. I get to see other parents, many of these fine people I am proud to call my friends. My wife and I will make new friends. We have a great, supportive and fun network of friends at the kids’ school. Also in a similar manner, I get that empty feeling for a few weeks as my girls go back to school. Part of it comes from the fact that they are growing and time marches on. Part of it is from my own experiences.
All of it is from my own interpretation and perception – because, again, there is suddenly that point in time a few weeks from now when I’ll be happily into the groove and I will suddenly be aware that my interpretation somehow changed.
Isn’t this the case with so many things in our lives? It is what we look at, what we ponder on, what we choose to feel. My wife and I both could focus on the fact that the kids are growing, that they’ll be away from home more, etc. etc. Or we can focus on the excitement, progress, great teaches, great friends, activities. Right now my girls still laugh at my jokes, still hold my hand, still ‘like’ me, so I’m trying to milk that as much as I can.
At work, we can focus on how our boss doesn’t do this or that, that there are things wrong with our job, and that we want more. Or we can focus on what our boss does in fact do right, what’s good with our job – and the simple fact that we have one, and focus on what we have. I’m not a saint and I struggle with this whole thing as much as anyone.
One secret that helped me is simple – when I start to ponder on what isn’t working, what I don’t want, and the empty feelings, I pause, take out any paper close to me, and begin writing.
I write down things that ARE working, things that I DO want, things that make me feel GOOD, etc. If there is a person involved with my negativity, I write down at least two things that they do well or two things that work for me. I write down at least two things that are ‘working’ in this situation. Instead of writing, “I don’t want _____ .” I write down, “I want ___ “ and I work on ways to accomplish it. I write down good feelings – when ___ happens I feel good, I feel good about my kids, wife, etc.
It is, in many ways, an exercise of gratitude and focus. It is also a bit about acceptance; we need to accept the situation to deal with it. We’re not surrendering but acceptance leads to progress. This exercise can be done on a napkin in 3 minutes but can make a big difference.
I’m wishing you and your children a happy, safe, educational school year. I wish you, the parent, peace and gratitude. There is so much excitement, fun, friendship, and possibilities out there, we all need to just step forward and live it. Thanks for going through this experience with me.