This past weekend the kids and I had a last summer hurrah, spending a few days at my dad’s lake house four hours away. We unplugged, swam and ate too much food and my son got his first sunburn ever – a testament to how good I have been at ensuring my kids wear sunscreen and to how they’ve become so independent that now they are old enough to lie to me about their sunscreen application.

Tomorrow the kids will wake up and eat breakfast and hop on the bus headed toward their new school. Instead of feeling scared, they tell me they are excited, which makes me proud of their ability to see the benefit of new experiences. I remember going to a new school as a second grader and being scared to death.

The divorce has brought a whole world of newness to our lives. I no longer live with the kids’ dad, and they only live with him half the time. I moved 30 miles away from my marital home. The kids had a nanny for summer vacation, instead of me being their primary caretaker as I’d been since their births. I assembled a grill and successfully prepared a completely edible meal with charcoal, a feat I’d never attempted before. When my daughter needed a new bed, I put it together by myself, and it’s still standing. If someone had told me a year ago I’d be salsa dancing with friends on a semi-regular basis I would have laughed hysterically (not saying I’m good at salsa dancing, but I do go and I don’t stand along a wall muttering to myself). A man asked me for my phone number and I didn’t say no and I went out with him and survived. Smoke detector beeping? I can figure out which one it is and change the battery without help. I do have a burnt out light bulb I haven’t managed to replace yet, but I’m short, folks, and I don’t have a ladder. Apparently next on my new-to-me list is to buy a ladder.

I’ve run four 5Ks so far this year – before my divorce I’d run exactly zero. I smile more and stress less, even though my income is lower and I have no spouse at home to share household or parenting duties. Friends comment on how much I’m living now and I grin and nod in agreement. The next step in my professional career is to possibly say goodbye to my business of nearly five years and re-enter the world of employment by someone else and instead of freaking out, I’m looking forward to the change of pace and the challenges.

The kids will go to school tomorrow and know no one. They are excited but I will be wondering all day whether they will have someone to sit with at lunch or to play with at recess. I hope I have been an example to them about the good that can come from change, even change that seems, in the beginning, to be scary.

It took me too many years to be comfortable with the new and the unknown. Dear children, tomorrow be your brave little selves and say hi to the kids you meet and know that among them will be your next best friends. It’s a fresh school year. You’ll learn a lot from your teachers and books, but learn more than you’ll realize from the people around you and from the ways you push yourselves to grow and extend beyond what you already know.

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