Back to school and starting over

| Ginny Kubitz Moyer | August 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

apple_pencilRecently my husband and I took our two young boys shopping for school supplies. Pencils, crayons, Elmer’s glue, pink erasers: it all went into the basket. Then came the excitement of choosing a new backpack, a decision which caused great deliberation on the part of my kids (they finally settled on basic black and on Spiderman).

And it took me back, as it always does, to my own memories of the start of the school year.

I always loved buying school supplies. The pocket folders were pristine, not yet creased and torn. The crayons still had pointed tips, not yet blunted by constant use. And everything seemed to say “It’s time for a new start!”

If you are a teacher or a parent (or in my case, both), the beginning of the school year is a very definite milestone. And while it’s hard to say goodbye to my family’s more relaxed summertime state of being, I love the implicit promise of the new school year. It’s a reminder that there are always fresh beginnings in life, that we don’t have to stay fixed in one place.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a lesson I always need to re-learn.

I remember when I was student-teaching many years ago. We were reading the second scene of Macbeth, a scene that features some of Shakespeare’s most vivid descriptions of gruesome battle injuries. You’d think a teenage audience would go for the gore, but my students were bored and unresponsive. I didn’t need Macbeth’s three witches to predict the future: This play would be a tough sell indeed.

Later that evening, I told an experienced teacher about my lack of success. I’d have to change my approach, and significantly. She smiled encouragingly. “That’s the good thing about teaching,” she said. “Every day is a chance to start again.”

She was right, and her insight applies to family life as well. Every day is an opportunity to press the “reset” button, if we choose to do so. Resolving to complain less, being more present for our kids, unplugging from the Internet to pray or read a book — these are positive changes that we can make not just at the end of summer, but anytime we feel the need. We can change anytime we realize that something we’re doing, or failing to do, is keeping us from the life that God desires for us.

The older I get, the more I realize that, as Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living. Knowing what to change is an ongoing process of discernment. It involves paying attention to our own lives, to the promptings of our souls, to the spoken and unspoken feedback we gather from the people closest to us.

And I can usually tell when a habit or routine needs to change, for my benefit and my family’s.

As we settle back into the school year, as the kids and I tote our shiny new notebooks and pencils to our respective classrooms, I know it’ll take some time to settle into our new reality. I know there will be things I do that need tweaking, parts of our routine that just don’t work anymore. It’s good to know that I don’t have to have it all figured out on the first day of school.

Kubitz Moyer is the author of “Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood.” She blogs at

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Category: This Catholic Life