Back To School, From the Perspective of a Mushy Mom.

School is officially in full swing. Twelve full days to be exact. If a visit to the principal is any indicator, we're not off to a fantastic start.

(And I'm only three lines in and already wanting to sigh.)

I've waited to share these pics for multiple reasons, mainly because they stink. As I delve further into the science of photography I am developing a more keen eye and a much more critical disposition. But regardless of the outcome, they still need to be documented.

Unfortunately mother nature had it in for me. I woke up on August 23rd to dark, stormy weather. Lightening. Thunder. And torrential downpours. Not exactly ideal "first day of school pics" kind of weather. I'm not sure there are any cameras that compensate for such elements. But then again, who am I to be the expert on such matters?

Little Man held his 50 pounds of supplies and impatiently stomped his foot as I frantically fumbled to capture the moment. There was no time for tripods or backlighting. I had hubs hold an umbrella in an attempt to save the sign. I bumped the ISO several times. But in the end, it was a big fat fail. It was as good as it was gonna get or Little Man was going to miss the bus. This long faced, dreary pic was definitely not the vision I had in my head.


Luckily Pokey's school begins an hour later and by then the rains had let up and the sun was beginning to make a debut. Although she was less than enthusiastic, the pics were much easier coming. And even though this one is far from perfect, it turned out to be one of my favs.


And good thing too because would you believe public photographs are "uncool"? School photos in particular. She couldn't get out of my SUV fast enough. The inevitable day has come. I have become one of those moms. You know, the "uncool" kind. Just. like. that. I took a deep breath and made my way home through the salty, stream of tears. My mind wouldn't stop reliving school years past.

Long gone are the days of classroom pics. And affectionate, full armed hugs. Not so sure I'm loving these tween years. They are habitually draining, both mentally and emotionally. Wish I'd had a little more warning, like the universally accepted "terrible twos". Or something. I'm pretty certain that my dark circles and gray hairs are more than coincidence. And from everything I've read this appears to be only the beginning of the long road ahead. Heaven help me!

As much as I want them to become mature, responsible individuals, part of me just wants to hold on to my babies a little while longer...

Is that so terribly wrong?

I'm trying to be present for these fleeting moments, but it is often met with resistance from my prepubescent tweens.

Today was a good day though. I was greeted with a welcoming smile as I found my Little Man in the crowd of runners. It was Little Man's first cross country race of the season. And he was happy I was there.

He was so excited, following in the footsteps of his uncle who shares a similar passion for running.

Then the whistle blew and before I could blink, Little Man was down.


Turns out that cross country may be more cut-throat than initially realized. Just take a closer look at the bottom left pic. The boy to the left of Little Man actually pushed him down. He fell to the ground and had to work hard to make his way back up through the crowd of runners zooming past him. It was so hard to stand back and watch him struggle.

But he did it. He made his way up and finished strong in spite of the obstacle.

Watching Little Man made me realize that we don't always have control over the outcome in our lives. Obstacles are ever so cleverly placed in our paths from time to time. Some more obvious and debilitating than others.

Parenting is thwarted with obstacles and snags at every turn.

Not an easy thing for a person who likes to be in control.

But if I've learned nothing else over the last decade+ of mothering, I've learned that obstacles are a necessary part of the human experience. They test us. They give us new opportunities for growth. They keep us humble. And by working through them, we become stronger, wiser, and perhaps even better versions of ourselves.

And as painful as it may be as a mother at times, every single day I am loosening my grip just a little more. Relinquishing control so that they can become who they are meant to be, to their fullest potential. It is only by allowing them to stumble and experience obstacles in their lives that this is possible.

But motherhood is certainly not easy and definitely not for the faint of heart, particularly as children grow and assert their own independence and transition into the hormonal teen years. This week has certainly been a testament of that. They will make mistakes. Falter. Be knocked down. And experience pain and hurt that we can not always mend.


Maybe I'm just a little too emotional for my own good. But I know one thing for certain. Motherhood is not for wussies.

Favorite Fridays at Skinned KneesGive me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory FridayThrough the Lens of Kimberly Gauthierand then, she {snapped}the long road


  1. these are so cute, I love the idea of having them holding signs saying what grade they're going into!

  2. I have my daughter take first day of school pics from college and send them to me! I take pics of everything. Can't have enough memories.

  3. Alicia, this was so beautiful. And every single word of it is true. It's difficult to watch our children stumble and to watch them pull away slowly as well. Parenting is certainly not for wussies or the faint of heart. It's difficult and infuriating and worrisome, but it's the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. Hold on for the ride. It's bound to get bumpy, but we'll experience a little bit of smooth sailing from time to time. I'm so glad that I have a friend like you to share this crazy, amazing, rewarding and scary experience with.
    Your kids have a wonderful mother. :)

  4. I FEEL YOU, Lish.
    Seriously, this got me all misty eyed and lump-throated.
    Motherhood does not get easier once we get past the sleepless nights and endless nappies!
    I thought it would - I WAS WRONG!!!
    So hard to let go, so hard to see them struggle, and feel helpless to "save" them.
    But aren't your kids blessed?
    They may not be quite as open to public hugs etc these days, but they KNOW that they can count on their Mom being there when they fall.

  5. What an inspiring post Alicia. Poor Little Man. How rude that someone pushed him down. It would have been very hard to watch that and not do anything. I love these photos and love the frame you did for them. Want to share?

  6. Beautiful the scrap pages!

  7. So true...definitely not for wussies. I feel like my back to school pics never turn out like I envision, but I do love yours! Your words remind me of my own creative journey...wanting to be someplace with my photography but not there yet. However, I love looking through my old blog posts because it reminds me how far I've come and that 2 years from now, I'll (hopefully) be even farther. Hope you have a beautiful day!

  8. Oh boy- I totally hear you! While my kids don't have that peer pressure to shun their parents-(thank God- I don't know if I could handle that- although I know it's coming at some point) I do have to face that challenge of letting go. Allowing them to mature just enough so that they can keep up with their friends- but not too much where they lose their innocence that they should not be robbed of.

  9. Cute photos.. Such a great insightful post, i need to show this to my friend who has 3 teenagers. She has trouble with letting go as well.

    Totally agree with the comment er about how they may not be wanting the hugs in front of friends but they know they can still count on you.. :)

    I hope you have a great weekend.

  10. Of course your pics are incredible, but your words are stunning. Love this piece Lish!

  11. Beautifully put, Alicia. I think moms everywhere, no matter what age their children are must be feeling the same thing about our "babies" going back to school. You know I am. Hope it's a wonderful semester. xoxo

  12. So beautifully written. I felt bad to see your son pushed down :( but he surely showed how resilient he is! wonderful post . . .

  13. Motherhood is not for wussies... I love it! So true! I may only have a toddle of my own, but I have nieces and nephews out the wazoo, and every age has its challenges for sure but man can tweens be obnoxious! HAHA! I promise you are still a cool mom, though... even if they pretend you aren't they have to think so because you rock!

    Your storyboards and presentation always inspire me! Love it!

  14. Dear Alicia,
    I read your post with empathy...been there and done all that...ours are now 18,18, and 20. By the grace of the Lord, they love us and one another and are all growing in so many ways toward good character and faith in Jesus. It hasn't been easy (I relate to your emotions), but when they see us asking forgiveness and working on humility and kindness, it goes a long way to help them. So be encouraged! "With the Lord, all things are possible!" I bet you were terribly proud of your son :) You can help him to forgive...what a wonderful character quality!!

  15. your kids are beautiful. you had me laughing at your opening lines. :) God bless you and your pre-teens...

  16. Absolutely not for wussies! And absolutely love the back to school photos. What a really cute idea. I don't have children of my own but I'm sharing your blog with both of my sisters who do and just did the back to school deal.

  17. Loved reading about back-to-school from a parent's perspective ;)

  18. Wow, beautiful kids, what a great idea using the signs. Without those obstacles we wouldn't be able to appreciate what we have or learn from them and get better. This is the beauty of life.

  19. Your kids are beautiful. And I love the signs for the back to school pictures - I saw several of these on pinterest - after our first day of school. So maybe next year.

    I just wanted to say that my oldest is in 5th grade this year, too, and I know what you're talking about! She's always talked to me and wanted to spend time with me (even when we're fighting), but we can definitely tell that she's wanting to spend more and more time with her friends or in her room at home and less with us. She didn't hug me on the first day of school, but she did still allow me to walk her to her class.

  20. True that, chica. Motherhood is definitely not for wussies. And it's ok to be emotional. I am, too. This too shall pass (cliche?...but true.) I hope that you just had a bad day and tomorrow will be just a little less trying.

    work it, mama!


  21. Alicia, reading this post - and fully understanding it, too - makes me wonder if we should pick up Project Smile again this year again? Because it was nice, and I´d definetly jump on again, too :)
    Fall always needs some smiles.

  22. i love that picture of your little girl! and the factoids on the side are a great idea! i would love to have had this while i was growing up! :)

  23. I love love the images and factss on do you do that? in photoshop?