Family Life: The Bittersweet of Back-to-School



The Bittersweet of Back-to-School

by Rachel Schmoyer

Today my four children get back on the bus to start a brand new school year. This year I have two children in middle school and two in elementary school. My youngest has been counting down the days for over a month. She cannot wait to get back to the classroom! My middle schoolers have been counting down the days in a different way. They have been counting down how many days of freedom they have left and cherishing every one.

I have mixed feelings about the return of school that can only be described as bittersweet.

What is bitter about back-to-school?

Missing my kids. I love having my kids home. I work from home so I am with them all day in the summers. I can play Scrabble after lunch. We can spontaneously go to the park or make homemade playdough. I get to talk with them more than I can in the school year. Back-to-school means that I will be away from them for a large chunk of the week.

Growing older. Sometimes I forget that I don’t have little ones anymore. Wasn’t it just yesterday that they were babies and toddlers? Not only are the kids another year older, but that means I am getting older, too, which is something I’d rather not think about.

The return of rushing out the door. I usually start the school year out by cooking hot breakfast from scratch and waking early enough to get ready at a non-hurried pace. It only takes about two weeks for my good intentions to dissolve into Cheez-Its for breakfast and “just wear your sister’s shoes if you can’t find yours!” I’d like to think that this year that won’t happen. We will see…

What is sweet about back-to-school?


Silence. One of the thoughts that has kept me going during the crazy days of summer is the fact that I will eventually hear silence again. Once the kids have heaved themselves up the steep bus steps and I come back into the house and shut the door, there will be nothing but me and my thoughts. I cannot wait!

Opportunities for the kids to grow. Although there is some bitterness in the kids growing up, there is joy, too. Another school year means new friendships with peers, new relationships with teachers, and new subjects to learn. Each new experience, even the unpleasant ones (maybe especially the unpleasant ones) are an opportunity to grow in knowledge and character.

Less dishes to wash. School let out on June 12. I think that’s the last time I saw the bottom of the kitchen sink. All summer long there are meals and snacks and kids getting a clean cup every time they need a sip of water. With school back in session, the sink will at least be empty from 9-3.

When do your kids or grandkids start back to school? What’s bittersweet for you about back-to-school? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author


Rachel Schmoyer is a pastor’s wife and mom of four. She blogs about finding simple truths in complex passages of Scripture at Read the Hard Parts.

She also writes about parenting and other adventures at Rachel Schmoyer Writes. If she is not writing, she is probably reading, most likely a biography of one of the First Ladies of the United States.

You can connect with Rachel online on Twitter.

You can read Rachel’s “Family Life” column on the 4th Monday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.


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