In Writing

It’s 1984. The biggest thing I’m afraid of is nuclear winter ever since my 8th grade teacher made me do a report on the terrifying TV movie The Day After. That… and walking into the building full of strangers that will be my high school. I haven’t slept all night for fear of it.

Exactly 30 years later, I watch my daughter ready herself for her first year of high school. She seems a lot calmer than I was. Maybe it’s because she’s not walking into a tiny schoolhouse full of strangers but into a big, suburban high school full of kids she’s known since first grade. Or maybe she’s just cooler than I am.

She wakes the whole house at five a.m. This does not please me. I am not a morning person. She says I muttered something like “I will turn into a pile of cat food if I only get five hours’ sleep.” I’m not sure I believe her but I don’t remember the things I say when I’m half awake. Either way, it makes for a good laugh as she fusses over helping her brother get ready for his first day of 8th grade.

In the midst of all this, a former high school classmate of mine posts a picture of us during our freshman year. The girl in the picture smiles and doesn’t look nearly as terrified as I remember being. She looks full of hope and promise. It feels like it was yesterday.

I have similar feelings today to those I had all those years ago. This year I’m a freshman at being the mom of a high schooler. Like that day 30 years ago, I’m a little apprehensive. But I’m also much more confident and sure. As I look at my kids’ shining faces, I know everything is going to be okay.  Life is all about new beginnings and I’ve finally learned to face them well.

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