Mixed Feelings on the Last "Back to School"

Back-to-school season evokes many emotions for most parents: excitement, nostalgia, and, sometimes, a hint of apprehension. But for me, this year feels particularly poignant. With Coti entering high school as a freshman and Lilly navigating her senior year, I’m navigating my journey of mixed feelings as these moments mark the end of an era for our family. They are the youngest of 5, and this transition symbolizes much more than another school year.

Coti, with his infectious enthusiasm and bright-eyed wonder, is all set to embark on his freshman experience. I remember when his older siblings first stepped into high school. Each had their unique journey, filled with challenges and milestones. As a mother, watching Coti prepare himself for this new world, I see traces of his siblings in him but also a distinct individuality. High school is such a transformative time, and even though he is the last one I’m sending off, the anxiety, pride, and hope never get old; he is beyond my fawning and over my questions.

How is Coti a Freshman?

I’ve had moments of pause while shopping for school supplies and picking out sneakers (better not outgrow the 14s because we are up against special order zone). These pauses are filled with childhood memories and contemplation about how fast time has flown. However, I’m also filled with hope and excitement for the memories he’s about to create, the lessons he will learn, and the stubborn young adult he’s evolving into.
Then there’s Lilly, gearing up for her senior year. The confident stride, the mature conversations, and the college plans; everything screams that my little girl is almost an adult. The senior year represents a culmination of experiences, achievements, friendships, and the last stretch before college. Lilly is no longer the child who clung to my leg on her first day of kindergarten. She’s becoming a young woman, ready to conquer whatever comes her way.

Lilly’s Senior Year: Is this real?

The moments we’re sharing now, discussing college applications, her future aspirations, and sometimes reminiscing about her past school years are priceless. I see the culmination of our family journey in her. She’s absorbed the wisdom and learnings from her elder siblings and is beautifully blending them with her unique persona. As a mom, I couldn’t be more proud, but there’s also a bittersweet realization that this is the final school year with clear direction.
The house has seen its fair share of back-to-school mornings, lunchbox preparations, homework help sessions, and parent-teacher meetings. With Coti and Lilly representing the tail end of these routines, I realize we’re nearing the end of an era. The youngest of 5, they’ve always had the advantage of learning from their elder siblings, but they’ve also shouldered the legacy of being the last ones.

End of an Era: The Youngest of 5

With our big family, our home was always filled with noise, laughter, arguments, and life. As each child moved on to their next chapters, the house became quieter and emptier. With Coti starting the high school journey and Lilly about to finish hers, the silence is almost palpable.
Mixed feelings might be an understatement. Pride, joy, sadness, nostalgia, and hope are all jumbled up and creating a whirlwind inside. As parents, we wish for our kids to grow, succeed, and forge their paths, but a part of us also hopes to hold on a little longer, to relive those precious moments just one more time.

Embracing the Present, Blubbering over the past

But life moves forward, and so will we. While unique and emotionally charged, this back-to-school season also offers a chance to make the most of the present. To cherish every moment, every achievement, every setback, and every laugh. As Coti and Lilly step into their respective school years, I’m reminded of the beauty of life’s transitions and the importance of embracing them wholeheartedly. I will see you on the football field cheering for the Falcons, and I will see you in the auditorium for the next play; I will also be the one with tissues cause I cry at everything now.