The other day I dropped a glass jar of raspberry jam on my toe. I hunched between the open fridge and the island as tears welled and slid down my cheeks. My son heard me shout, “Ouch!” through the garage door and he raced in. “Are you O.K.?”
“Are you sure you’re O.K.?” Kyle asked, unconvinced by my shaky answer.
“Yes. Thank you,” I blubbered. His green eyes penetrated mine with compassion.
“Let’s go play,” his friend said, clearly ready to move on.
“I hope you feel better,” Kyle offered. They quickly raced back to their flashlight game.
I stood there for a good long while and wept. The jam jar opened up an inner flood of unexpressed emotions.
Kids going back to school is bittersweet. Every year, I feel it deeply, for days. This sharp pain of letting go hits me hard. I hope the jar won’t shatter: the glass of my heart, the yearning I have to be with them in the kitchen spreading jam on buttered bread, eating together.
I long to know what is going on with them—that connectedness, togetherness welling up, but a great distance seems to pulls them out into the world.
Will they remember the love in this kitchen?
Faced with my throbbing toe, I picked up the sticky jar and remembered watching my daughter ride her bike to middle school for the first time last year—she revelled in it. As hard as it was, I loved giving her wings.
These emotions we moms feel is natural and good. An honest cry over what will never be again is absolutely necessary. What is confusing is the simultaneous feeling of “Yippee!” for a return to routine, good work, and a chance to go to the bathroom by ourselves.
To the mom who is feeling a strange cocktail of happy-sad relief laced with longing:
Your love carries them through seventh hour, recess, and the rest of their lives.
Cry over the jam jar landing smack on your toe.
Feel all the feels, mama. Grieve for what you are losing: summer, freedom, innocence, and lemonade stands.
Then pick up that jar and open it. Butter the bread. Spread the red contents of your heart on top. Have a good cry or a “Thank you, Jesus,” moment. No need to explain. Whatever you’re feeling, I know it gets better.
Love always hits hard, especially when it’s in a glass jar full of seeds, sticky and sweet.