The dog days of summer seem to be a figment of the imagination as we begin our third week back to school. Splashing, running,...

The dog days of summer seem to be a figment of the imagination as we begin our third week back to school. Splashing, running, and soaking up the sun are things of the distant past. No more Popsicles and bare feet, they have now been traded in for brand new tennis shoes, and sandwiches packed lovingly into lunchboxes. School is back in full force, and we have finally adjusted to our routine this year.

I’m happy to report that my new fifth- and first-graders are adapting very well to their new grade levels. Each coming home excited each day as they learn new things and make new friends. I don’t know if there is anything more satisfying for parents than to have their children happy and content at school. It lets your mind rest easy, and your heart fill with joy that they are confident, happy little people.

This time of year is always nerve-wracking: finding out if your child will like their teacher, make new friends in their brand new class, be satisfied with their new daily structure (after the nightmare of non-structure that can be summer). I am happy to report that I know that this year will be a good year based on the smiles and enthusiastic re-telling of all the happenings at school.

My boy has begun his last year of elementary school. It didn’t really hit me until the second week of school that this was a year for “lasts.” Last year for elementary school, last year for recess, last year for starting school at 9:15 a.m., it makes me feel so nostalgic for his kindergarten year (which was just yesterday). He has grown so much, physically and emotionally. This summer I noticed how he is maturing, helping around the house without being asked, volunteering to do things for me and for his grandparents, cutting the grass, washing dishes; he’s making my life a lot easier. I am so proud of him.

My precious flower began first grade, no longer the bottom of the totem pole at school. She is making new friends and enjoying her new school (after much anxiety on my part). She adores her new teacher, who has the very appropriate name of Mrs. Lovin, and she comes home each day with stories to tell, always with excitement. She is settling right in to her new environment and has been welcomed with open arms by her new school. When she is happy, I am happy.

I realized this weekend (as we made our grand re-appearance at our old church) that our little family has entered a new phase. I looked around church and saw so many young families, pregnant mothers with toddlers holding their hands, babies in the nursery, children singing during Children’s Church. I realized that we were no longer in the “young family” phase. We were moving into the “seasoned veteran” phase. Our children are older; they don’t need as much from us anymore. I don’t need to bring five extra bags of diapers, snacks, toys, etc. with me when we go somewhere.

We are now to the point where I can grab my purse and head out the door in less than ten minutes (because let’s be honest, even the older ones take forever to get their shoes on). It doesn’t take planning around naps and meals to go anywhere, and it is very freeing.

I like my little people and who they are becoming as they grow into themselves. They are both loving, thoughtful, and kind individuals. I am so happy that they are happy this year, and that they both get to spend their days with wonderful teachers like Mrs. Lovin and Mrs. Henry (who is one of the very best according to the boy). They both make my children love learning and get excited about school. I am so thankful for them and am looking forward to the excitement of the new year.