by Dave Markwell

‘Tis the season for first days. First days of school shake our kids loose from their cozy summer schedules and liberate parents from the hand and heart-wringing task of trying to mitigate our children’s boredom. I love summer. It is my favorite season by far, but when my kids got old enough to have summer vacation, my relationship to this season changed. I still enjoy the weather and the opportunities for fun that it allows, but the sense of duty to produce consistently epic days for my kids is a drag. It’s impossible. With work, chores, projects and my own life and time to manage, my kids’ questions about “what are we going to do today?” make me cringe. I rarely have a plan that inspires them. So, I really like the first day of school. I am off the hook…

The first day of school is also a day of reflection. As the years change and my kids grow older, I remember other first days, including the very first one. I remember crying like a baby when we dropped my son off for kindergarten for the first time. I remember his little olive windbreaker, over-sized backpack on his little body and his blue and white striped sneakers. I remember these things with fondness and love and a sense that the world is indeed a fine place. Our kids inspire feelings that we would never know exist without them. First days remind us of these and this is good.

Throughout our lives, we experience many first days. We move into new houses, get new jobs, suffer the pain and joy of new relationships and begin each new era with a first day. These days are often met with anticipation and the gentle optimism of a new future developing. They are also met with a certain lament for the days we are leaving behind. We miss the old house. We miss our buddies at the old job. We miss the security and comfort of what we knew. These can be big feelings and sometimes so big that we will remain stuck where we don’t belong. We are built to grow. It’s necessary and right, but not always easy. But sometimes the right things are the hard things. Not a comforting thought, but true.

Leaving my son on that first day was hard, but seeing him today as a senior in high school and realizing that the wonderful life unfolding for him now began with a first day, I understand the power and beauty and necessity of these days. But, I still miss his little shoes…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). He also runs the new Waterland Arcade, located at 22306 Marine View Drive South. Dave extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, Dave needs more friends – find him on Facebook here.

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