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The Last First Day

I walked the kids to the front door of the school on their last first day. Instead of clinging to me, like they did five years ago when they started Kindergarten, I was clinging to them, begging them to slow down. My heart felt like it was being tugged through a pinhole, squeezed.

I know the otherwise — I know the otherwise all too well — and I know I am lucky to have older kids. But, please, that is cold comfort.

It hurts so much to watch them walk into the school; to watch them walk away. Because that is what this is about; these first day of school tears.

It’s the fact that parenting is being in a state of constant reminders that these people you love desperately are moving away from you.

They are like the universe, in a constant state of expansion, pulling apart. It’s incremental, barely noticeable until you look up one day, on a last first day, and realize how far they’ve travelled from you.

So I’m sad. I am selfish; I just want them home with me. Close. I feel like a Disney witch, one with long, claw-like fingers and pointy nails, trying to suck them back toward me with magic. It makes me feel ugly inside when I feel so much grief looking at their grinning faces as they cross over the threshold, eager to get where they’re going.

Come back.


1 Charlotte { 09.01.15 at 7:40 am }

Yes. Exactly this. I touched on this yesterday on my blog. My oldest walked out the door for her first day of highschool, and my heart hurt. I spent all day wishing her to return home, wanting to keep her safe from the world.
I am with you on the sadness. It goes all too fast, and days like the first day are a slap in the face reminder of how little time we actually have.
You are raising some amazing kids, Mel, who are going to go on to do great things and be a bright light in this dark world. Take comfort in that.

2 Jenny Flax { 09.01.15 at 8:26 am }

Beautifully written.

3 A.M.S. { 09.01.15 at 8:31 am }


I prescribe a box of frozen yogurt popsicles, comfy clothes, and binge watching the fluffy episodes of Doctor Who until 2:30. Personally, I recommend the Vincent Van Gogh episode and the adipose episode.

Or, call me and I’ll hold your hand, so to speak. ?

4 Mina { 09.01.15 at 8:41 am }

How terribly hard this is, and how very nicely you wrote about it.
Many hugs, love. Thinking of you.

5 Turia { 09.01.15 at 8:53 am }

It is so hard. So hard. You encapsulated the feelings so beautifully. Thank you for posting what I am feeling. It is our first first day next week and although I am very much looking forward to having some more time for my own work, it is ripping me up inside to realize just how little time I will now have with E.

6 Karen (River Run Dry) { 09.01.15 at 9:20 am }

I will second A.M.S’s comment. And yes. It’s so painful.


7 April { 09.01.15 at 9:29 am }

It’s hard. It never gets easier. This year was the first day of 11th grade. We have one more year and then college and she leaves us.

I’m not ready. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. All I know is that I have to continue to prepare her for growing up and becoming an adult in just a few short years, but let her know she always has a safety net and come back to us.

8 SuzannaCatherine { 09.01.15 at 10:16 am }

This post touched my heart. As always, you have written what I’ve felt for many years. And April is absolutely correct, it’s hard and it never gets easier.

I am at the point where my youngest grandchild has just marched off to 5th grade. Yesterday it was 1988 and his father was graduating High School; now it’s 2015. Everyone says it – it all goes so fast. (Sigh)

I feel like “Sunrise, Sunset” should be playing softly in the background.

Abiding with you.

9 Delenn { 09.01.15 at 11:56 am }

Oh so so true. Part of being a parent is letting go..but it still stings! Michael is in 11th grade and I am already wondering how I will deal with him gone from our household when he finally leaves for college/life. (And that is 2-3 years away at this point…) ((Hugs)) to you, hon!

10 Tiara { 09.01.15 at 12:42 pm }

I very exactly the same. Thank you for writing this & making me feel less alone about it

11 Tiara { 09.01.15 at 12:43 pm }

That should say “I feel” instead of “I very”…the tears in my eyes prevented me from editing properly 🙂

12 Colleen { 09.01.15 at 3:37 pm }

Your first “First Day” post was the first post I read on your blog, and I’ve been reading ever since. I found you after my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and I didn’t know if I would ever have a first day myself. I could imagine your grief then, but I couldn’t really understand it (as a teacher, I’d had plenty of happy first days of school). My four year old starts Junior Kindergarten next week, and now I get it. I’ll be trying to hold on to every second of the next 7 days. Thanks for still being here and sharing it with us. : )

13 Justine { 09.01.15 at 6:27 pm }

*hug* I understand. And I don’t think you’re a witch at all. I think it’s totally understandable to grieve.

14 Northern Star { 09.01.15 at 8:52 pm }

Oh Mel, beautiful post. Has me tearing up!

15 Parul { 09.02.15 at 12:15 pm }

Such a reality of life. That’s how it is meant to be. Isn’t it? Beautiful post!

16 Lori Lavender Luz { 09.02.15 at 10:04 pm }


“People you love desperately are moving away from you.” And also, they are moving more fully into themselves. In large part because of you.

Which doesn’t make it any easier.

17 Amel { 09.03.15 at 11:50 am }


18 Valery Valentina { 09.06.15 at 2:23 pm }

18 months from now I hope I will understand. For now I would love for my toddler to accept we are two different people.

19 Billy { 09.13.15 at 11:44 pm }

My daughter is spending the night with her grandmother. This is the 3rd time, and oh, the night feels so empty without her around! As you said, she is growing, moving away from me which is only natural but how I wish she didn’t!

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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