Back to School, But Not Us

Back to school means something else entirely for me.

As I sit here at my kitchen table, looking at everyone’s “First Day” pics I am a bit sad. Everyone is going back to school, but not us. In our house that’s all finished…for now. Our son graduated from college this past May with a teaching degree and now that his licensing is complete, he is looking for a job in his field. Once he gets a permanent position, maybe I’ll post a “First Day” photo of him. Back to school solely means something else entirely for me now. It means lunch.

10 years of friends celebrating the movement of life with a simple lunch.

In 2006, Friend Dani’s youngest was going to kindergarten and Dani was freaking out…just a bit. She was worried about what she would do all day without her small shadow. So Friend Lillian and I decided that a boozy lunch would be just the thing to take her mind off her missing shadow and thus the Annual Back to School Lunch was formed. As the young shadow now enters high school (and her older sister begins college), I realize we have been at it for 10 years. 10 years of friends celebrating the movement of life with a simple lunch.

Over time we have invited others to join us, but it always seemed forced, tight and uncomfortable when we did. Conversation was stilted and polite with little uproarious laughter. Almost as if we couldn’t be our authentic selves unless it was just our merry little trio. The three of us have many years of friendship and shared experiences under our belts and when others were thrown into the mix it was weird. After a few attempts of endeavoring to be inclusive, we three decided our annual lunch should remain exclusive. And so it goes.

This year sadly, Lillian’s job prevents her from joining us, so it will be a happy little duo for lunch. And we continue the tradition of celebrating change. We meet on the first day back to school whenever possible. We keep it light and fun – no tears, no angst, no drama (those must be left at the door). We try to support a locally owned business when we go (one year the first day fell during Restaurant Week, so we made sure to eat at a participating resto to double our community impact). We talk, we laugh, we catch up.

Thankfully, I have developed some amazing friends that keep my life sane.

Over the past 10 years our lives have changed drastically. At our first lunch, I was an active duty wife with a career in sales. My son was in Jr. High. Dani was a SAHM[1] who had recently left the world of live music performance. Her two girls were in grade school. Lillian had just left a job that made her miserable. Her daughter was in grade school. Now Dani is a religious education coordinator and performs live music again in venues around the city with one starting high school and one starting college. Lillian has a challenging new job she loves that allows her to be “part of the solution” with her daughter entering her senior year of high school. I am building a new business in event management (no, I don’t do weddings) and I’m trying to write a cookbook with a college graduate son. Lives change. Change is good…most of the time. Thankfully, I have developed some amazing friends that keep my life sane and this back to school ritual of our traditional[2] “moms only” lunch is a part of my life that hopefully doesn’t change.

The best part of back to school has always been the breather. No summer shenanigans left. Fall is not quite here. So there is a breath. A heartbeat of a moment where I could stop and just be. That was how it was for years. Now I am feeling a little left out; slightly bereft at no longer being part of the crowd. I have no part in the conversation of schools, curricula, after school activities, school lunch, etc. While I am a woman of a certain age, many of my friends still have kids in school. The conversation continues for them, but I am outside of it. I am more than usually grateful to be having lunch with my pals today (even if one is in absentia), if for no other reason than to feel connected to the tribe of parents again.


[1] SAHM – Stay at Home Mom

[2] Traditional  – in the way of 50’s “Ladies Who Lunch”. Cocktails are consumed.