January 24, 2022

How many moments fit inside 681 days?

This morning I dropped my kids off at school. 

It was the first time since March 12, 2020.

And I have a lot of feelings about it.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I once interviewed a grandmother named Gayle for a writing assignment, and she told me this: "Being a mother is like taking your heart out of your chest, attaching arms and legs to it, and then setting it free."

This morning, when I walked out of my children's elementary school at 9:07 a.m. after having just dropped them off outside the doors of their respective classrooms, I truly felt the heaviness of Gayle's words in my bones.

I felt peaceful and disoriented...all at once.

Make no mistake about it: As I write this--right this moment--with tears streaming down my face, I know they are where they should be. 

Where they need to be.

We love their school. Their teachers rock.

There are things to learn, new levels to reach, and new friends to make.

And so, after breakfast, I loaded my children up like pack mules. I mean, you should have seen them: a protruding backpack (that would likely cause sciatica if they had to walk with it around the block) stuffed with folders, a binder, a pencil box, paper, an extra mask, and hand sanitizer. They carried a lunchbox in one hand, and a winter bag replete with snow pants, boots, and beanie hat in the other. Finally, I handed each of them a bag of shoes to donate for the school's shoe drive. 

This once-mundane daily ritual was shiny and new all over again.

We were happy. Celebratory, even.

Anticipation hung in the air.

I had long reminded my children the following in the months leading up to their return to in-person learning: You guys weren't homeschooled before the pandemic. You went to school, and loved school. But you've been home for a long time. And if you do anything long enough, it will become comfortable, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the best for you.

Returning to school this morning is a prime example of this.

The choice to send them to school today was enthusiastically welcomed.

And yet.

I am sad.

I am sad because it is almost as if the act of letting them go simultaneously pushed the button of a cued-up memory reel of everything our family has endured and experienced together since virtual learning began...

The time when my daughter got so caught up in Lego-building that she logged back in late from her break. (I was hair-on-fire pissed at the time, but I can laugh about it now.)

The times when I nagged my son about always having his camera off (I'm thinking this is the new I'm too cool rite of passage), although to his credit, he was definitely engaged and paying attention. (While I wasn't hair-on-fire pissed about this indiscretion, it still aggravated me like the dickens.)

The times when Scott made mozzarella sticks for their lunch, which instantly put smiles on their faces.

The times when I pestered the kids (okay: I strong-armed them) to take walks, bike ride, or do HIIT exercises with me during their lunch break.

The times when I heard either one of them turn their camera mic on and participate in class by offering up an answer or sharing their feelings or opinions. (Now, that one right there straight-up made my heart dance.)

All the above had become regular occurrences in our home for Hundreds. Of. Days.

And now, it's over. 

To be clear, the minutiae of what they did is neither here nor there.

That's not the point. 

The time is the point. 

Granted, the months, days, and hours spent educating my children at home might drive many parents to day drink. 

This. Wasn't. Easy.

And even if a parent or caregiver was up for the challenge mentally and emotionally, their bank account might not be down with it financially. Translation: Even if they wanted to...they couldn't.

I wholeheartedly get that my choice to do this is a freedom denied to many.

But there's also this way of looking at what my husband and I endured:

We will likely never again spend this much time in the presence of our children during their formative years. 

And it was nothing short of a privilege to have the means to do so.

This is not lost on me. 

God-willing, many, many years from now--when touching my toes is an impossibility, my hair is thinning, and my face has more lines than a roadmap (Roadmaps: Remember those?), these 681 days will be more precious than gold. 

And for this reason, I am eternally grateful.

I literally cannot wait to hear every single detail of their day when I pick them up this afternoon.

And if they, in turn, ask me what I did, I'll tell them about how I was once again able to work and write uninterrupted.

I'll be sure to leave out the part about my tears, though.


  1. I love this. So beautifully expressed!

    And I hope you ALL readjust to the change as painlessly as possible. Again. ;)

    1. Heather!

      Oh. My. God.

      I truly didn't think anyone was reading this. (Especially since Feedburner went bye-bye,😭 but I digress...)

      How did you find this post!?! And how are you?

      Thank you for your kind words. We are well, thankfully. And the recent changes have been embraced and have done us good.

    2. Hey, Courtney! Hehe...I'm just a lurker. ;)

      Actually, I got an email notification that you had a new blog post. I thought your title looked interesting (and reminded me of that song from *Rent*!), so I clicked over and voilà, here we are!

      We are also well. The last couple of years have been nutso, of course, but I have to say, we have managed to sort of surf over the top of it most of the time. Which is much easier to do without kids at home, I'm sure. I don't envy you all those extra layers of parental responsibility you've had to wear, but I just KNOW you've been wearing them well!

      Really glad to read you again!

    3. Wow, Heather. Thank you so much. I am so glad you're well. Nutso. Yeah, that definitely applies to modern times...