39455689_e1a513e9c9 Am I a bad mother because I am happy that my kids are off to start a new school year today? Nah, I think I'm pretty normal. To be perfectly honest there is a mix of emotions when it comes to another milestone checked off. This year it's my youngest starting high school.

At breakfast she said, "Next year I'll be sixteen."

Without looking up from the paper, I said, "No you won't."

"Mom, I'll be fifteen this year. Next year I'll be sixteen."

My heart sank. She's right.

They tend to grow despite our lack of readiness. As I left for the office I saw my neighbor with her youngest, all decked out with a shiny new backpack, her first day of kindergarten. I stopped to say hello. "Can you believe it?" my neighbor said. The mother looked so happy, smiling, beaming.

I remember feeling that way, proud and scared too. How will they handle all those new kids? Will they be OK? The feeling isn't that different whether we are sending them to kindergarten, the first day at middle or high school or off to college. Did we do everything we could to prepare them? Are they ready?

Of course, they usually are, more than ready. So I can allow myself to be happy today. I'm happy that my kids are competent adults in training. I'm happy that their return to structure and routine helps me get a grip on my schedule. And yes, I'm happy to have the house to myself for a little while. It's life and it's good.

Photo courtesy of Steve Wilhelm via Flickr