Our twins start middle school in one week. When we were discussing the school supplies to be purchased, I asked whether their backpacks were still in good shape from last year. Tanner’s mind reeled and then his eyes widened and he said, “No way! I need a new backpack.” I was perplexed by what appeared to be a look of mortification and asked him, “Why? What’s wrong with your old one?” And then I remembered…. Last year in the 5th grade, he selected a teenage mutant ninja turtle backpack that resembled a turtle shell.
He loved that backpack when he picked it out. He even convinced me it was worth the extra buck$ to buy it for him. And now one year later, not even in middle school yet, he intuitively knows that a turtle shell backpack is too “childish” for middle school.
As a mom, I am both happy and sad. Happy that my young man understands what it is to mature and embrace new seasons in his life. After all, it would be odd to see a 35-yr old business man wearing a turtle shell backpack to work. A man needs to let go of things like that at some point in his life. So in that regard, I am proud of him and the young man that he is becoming. But as I stand here in happiness and pride, I also feel the tug of motherly lament. His season of little boyhood is dwindling. This puts a knot in my throat.
Every mother knows the feeling. It’s simply beyond words. It’s hard to keep the tears from welling up in my eyes as this season in life begins to turn. But in the tears, there is also joy and admiration. I pray he continues to mature and move through life in a healthy way as every strong and successful man should.
I joked with him and said,”Your backpack is in perfectly good shape. You really should use it.” We all giggled and imagined what that would look like on the first day of middle school. I guess that scared him a bit, because when I walked by the backpack hooks in the utility room, I noticed the space was void where that turtle shell backpack had hung all summer. I guess he hid it for fear I might not have been joking.
To all the moms this new school year, whether it be kindergarten, college, or something in between… You’re not alone. Look up and thank God for the healthy development of your child and know that we are all shedding a few tears of mixed emotions with you.