This is always the time of year that I feel the most out of step with the world around me. Back to school sale fliers fill the newspaper and mailbox. I hear my neighbors talking and read the celebratory Facebook statuses. Parents express relief and joy that their offspring are once again back in school.
For 13 years, back to school has been largely meaningless at our house. We'd watch the back-to-school season, hear the neighbor kids mourning the return to school, and then enjoy sleeping in on the first day of school. Because our lives are pretty much the same year-round, there is no new school year at our house.
It has changed things a bit to have college students. When someone starts college we lose part of our pack. It takes a while to get the dynamics worked out. For four years it was Bethany going off to classes and now it will be Patrick. In two years Jonathan will leave me here alone with Andrew, and then two or three years after that it'll be his turn to go. But that isn't the same as sending your kids off to school for the day.
I have to say, I share the joy and relief of the parents of school children at the return of their kids to school. I can once again enjoy a relatively peaceful trip to Target without hearing their kids whining and begging. We'll take a trip to the zoo next week and it will be relatively empty. I can go to the mall without being run over by kids wearing those ridiculous shoes with skate wheels in the bottom. All of my errands will get easier.
But my kids will be enjoying it with me.