The air is crisp, the wind nippy, and the days are getting shorter. It’s that time of year again. The school rush. I took my 51/2 year old daughter out last night to buy school supplies, much to her delight. (I admit both her and I look forward to her return to the world of academia.)  It was when we returned home and I placed the bag on the couch that I was taken back in time.

It doesn’t seem that long ago, the anticipation building as we prepared for the start of school and ventured out for our annual school shopping expedition. My sister and I could not wait to drive to Prince George, 100 km from our small hometown, to visit all the retail outlets that carried school supplies. (I don’t mention my older brother as I doubt very much that the prospect of going back to school was exciting for him.) In hindsight, I’m sure our mother grudgingly dragged us along, dreading the chore of stocking up for not one or two but three children! To her disadvantage, WalMart did not exist at the time. And Mom and Dad’s bank account wasn’t exactly spilling over. I’m sure it didn’t help that the big yellow “M” in the city would inevitably lead to, “Mommy, PLEEEEAAASSSEEE can we go to McDonalds???”

I can still feel the cold metal of the shopping cart, my hands clasped over the edge and my feet planted on the curved bar extended at the base. I gleefully lean into the cart, my fingers intertwined with the crisscross bars at the bottom. Once we get to the stationary area, I rambunctiously help fill up the cart with crisp packages of paper, shiny pens, Care Bears backpacks (pink for me and blue for Terri), stiff pencil cases and an assortment of supplies all displaying a range of colours, textures and smells. I observe Terri clinging to Mom, her excitement mixed with fear of separation. Her big blue eyes find mine and she grins at me, a knowing look that we will rip all these items open at home, not unlike Christmas day.  We wander to the clothing section and Mom patiently says “no” to our many “I want that’s”, settling for a few outfits to stock up. And yes, its pink for me, blue for Terri. I now wonder if Mom ever came across any 2-for-1 sales?

Perhaps the most exciting part of all is getting home. Terri and I plop ourselves on my bed, dump the items out of the bag and dig through the contents. Thrown pieces of paper and plastic litter the area around us as we admire our new scissors, smell the combination of glue and ink in our fresh notebooks and hear the crinkle of our backpacks as we start filling them up. I carefully sort my new pencil crayons, erasers and ruler, and tuck them into the sleeve of my Strawberry Shortcake pencil case. Next, I stack my notebooks into a neat pile, admire the wrinkle-free covers, and inhale their scent one more time before placing them in my backpack. We thread our arms into the straps of our bags and parade around the house, proudly showing off our brand spanking new items.

As I now cut tags off the new items for my daughter, I feel her excitement over the sensation of new beginnings. I think about the smell of an elementary school textbook, its uncracked spine, smooth corners, and glossy hard covers bringing me back to the classrooms of my childhood. Entering grade one, my daughter expresses how she simply cannot WAIT to have her own desk. With that comment, I remember what a big deal this was for me at that age – how a desk signified that I was really growing up!

As a mother, I can identify with the chaos and busy-ness of school preparation. I can relate to last minute shopping, registration, early morning routines and, though I’m sad to say it, the end of summer. But I take tremendous joy in watching my child experience those magical memories that come back to us as adults to bring pleasure. Instead of getting frazzled over every small detail, I can choose to savour these moments and live in the magic that a new school year brings. What about you? Can you walk this journey with your children, live in the magic with them, and be grateful for the opportunities we have to educate them? I invite you to do so – you’ll be glad you did (and so will the kids)!

Once the rush is over, take some time to consider an ideal opportunity to join other moms who want to live in the moment and discover their real purpose: