Yesterday, I made my daughter’s last school lunch.
It wasn’t anything special—a thermos of macaroni and cheese, some carrot sticks, a granola bar, a fruit snack, and a juice box.
Later, I asked her why she didn’t eat the macaroni and cheese. She said, it just didn’t look good sitting in the thermos after all those hours.
And I said, “Well, the good news is next year you can start packing your own lunch!”
And then it hit me: I just packed her last elementary school lunch.
Would I have made her something different if I had known?
I don’t know.
That’s the thing about endings. Unless you’re counting down to the last day of school before summer vacation or the last day of pregnancy before your baby is due, an ending is easy to miss. It’s easy to miss because what we’re actually counting down to is a NEW BEGINNING.
I don’t remember the last time I made my daughter’s bed.
Or tied her shoes.
Or gave her a bath.
Or washed her clothes.
She does all those things all by herself. And clearly—trust me, I know—she’s old enough to make her own lunch. It was just one of those things I said I’d keep doing while she was in elementary school, and then all the sudden elementary school is over, and the one thing—THE ONE THING—I was holding onto isn’t even a thing anymore! I did it for the last time, and I did it just like all the other times.
My friends, you are about to enter the golden years, ages 4-10, when love from you and friends for them come fast and easy.
I’m not going to be the tired old mom who tells you how fast it goes. You have to learn that on your own.
But I have no remorse about telling you to find a way to make all the times so good that even if it’s the last time, it’s okay. Beginnings are even better.
As my daughter walked her elementary school hallways for the last time, she asked me, “So…did you make a ‘last-day-of-school’ cake?” For the record, I have NEVER made a last-day-of-school cake. I just told you how bad I am at remembering the endings. I do, however, always make a first-day-of-school-cake, so instead of cake, we’ll come home and eat watermelon and throw water balloons at each other (just because we have some in the garage we’ve been saving for a special occasion), and then we’ll probably do what we do on most regular days—decide that it’s going to be a GREAT DAY.
And if everyday is a great day, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first or the last. All that matters is that we’re ready for what’s next.
Because the end of elementary school isn’t about graduating from the fifth grade at all; it’s about going to middle school, a magical place where freedom lives and friendships are hard and homework really cramps your style. My daughter is ready. Who am I to hold her back?
Let her make her own lunch!