By Shelley Murphy
Recent record setting temperatures tried to disguise the onset of fall, but despite the heat familiar signs surfaced as students brought backpacks, books and brown bag lunches back to school campuses.
Every September, students ritualistically return to school anxiously anticipating the year ahead. But, by mid-month many students manage to settle into routine schedules as teachers prepare for Back to School Night.
San Clemente middle schools host their Back to School Night this week, elementary schools open their doors on October 2, and San Clemente High School welcomes parents on October 1.
The annual evening event provides a chance for parents to meet teachers and to learn about the coming year’s curriculum. It’s also a great way for parents and teachers to connect and an excellent opportunity to ask questions.
Every year it surprises me how many parents skip this opportunity to sneak a peek into their child’s class schedule and experience first-hand how students spend the school day.
With only one student enrolled at SCHS this fall, I’m looking forward to meeting my son’s teachers and strolling the campus instead of sprinting from class to class trying to meet teachers from two different class schedules.
In addition to Back to School Night, my calendar marks another important appointment on October 1: My youngest son takes his behind-the-wheel driving test at the DMV, too.
Provided he passes his test, I’ll happily bid farewell to spending mornings in the SCHS parking lot jockeying for a curbside spot, and I’ll also gladly say goodbye to wasting afternoons weaving through traffic tie-ups on Pico and Presidio.
Crossing congested commutes off my calendar will add several hours of free time to my week. Free time seems to be something I have a lot of since receiving my parenting pink slip last month from my oldest son as he went off to college.
Two weeks ago I decided to simply replace the shower curtain in my boys’ bathroom, but instead, I stretched the task into long afternoon trips to Lowe’s and a mini-remodel.
Lately, I’m spending so much time at Lowe’s that I even missed the Nordstrom bonus triple points shopping days last week. Any day now, I expect Nordstrom management to assume I’m in peril and initiate a police welfare check.
Even though my son and I discussed plans to manage his unrestricted freedom when he’s away at school, I deliberately delayed thinking about my impending independence. Instead I spent lots of time, and money, at Target buying stuff for his dorm and avoiding the reality of an empty bedroom and a quiet house.
Recently, I asked moms of college freshman how they’re coping with the transition from full-time mom to mandatory retirement. Most are embracing their newfound freedom and enjoying reinventing themselves—they’re determined that an empty nest need not translate to an empty life.
Yet, many moms still admit to feelings of loneliness and loss as they wrestle with finding an emotional balance between letting go and encouraging independence.
Some friends say they’re revisiting goals they set before children, such as learning a foreign language, practicing popular songs on the piano, taking exotic cooking classes and joining challenging athletic programs.
One mom I know recently returned to her career before kids. After cashing her first paycheck in over 18 years, she enthusiastically declared her days of volunteering dead. Also, as the oldest employee in the office she’s relishing her role as the nurturing mentor.
My current plans include really reading the book selected for book club before going to the next meeting; coaxing our rescue dog into the car and onto the beach trail; and, familiarizing myself with the Lowe’s How-To Projects center.
I’m settling into fall, and like students starting the new school year, I’m reluctantly beginning a new chapter and learning to turn the page.