*Update: We have since made the leap into home educating, but I look back on these moments with such fondness. I hope you find this idea inspiring for your own home!
We are counting down the days with excitement and plenty of anxiousness as the start of another school year gets closer. It’s always bittersweet and I hold tight to traditions that we have started with our kids to make this time of year as exciting and comforting as possible. One of these traditions is back-to-school gifts for the kids. We always keep it very simple and try to make it meaningful.
This year we will be experiencing 7th grade with our oldest, and also 5th, and then 1st, and the one I am really struggling with is our Miss Blair. She will be headed to Kindergarten this year and my emotions are all over the place. Don’t be fooled that because I have five kids I am calm, cool and collected. It is quite the opposite and I am doing my very best to keep it in check. Bring me all the chocolate.
As we near the start of each school year, I have quiet prayers in my heart for the experiences my kids will have and how they carry themselves as they are away from our home. I always hope that they remember who they are and what they stand for. I hope that they know they are so deeply loved by their father and I and that we are so proud of all that they do and the effort they invest into their schooling. I hope they remember to always make the right choices, to be respectful, to speak only kind things and to be there for someone who may not have anyone. I hope they are the ones to extend a smile or a hand to anyone who needs it and to remember the light that they have within them. They can be examples for good to both their friends and teachers and my hope is that through them, people will feel happy, accepted and loved. My hope is that they can be positive leaders and role models in all that they say and do.
This year’s gift is a simple keychain with an inspiring message behind it. The keychain is a small rod with the words ‘Hold To The Rod’ engraved on it in the smallest of lettering. The rod is used as a metaphor many times throughout scripture. It is used when reading about the shepherd and how the shepherd uses the rod to protect the flock. It is also referred to as a literal rod to hold tight to and be guided by while trying to stay on the path back to our Heavenly Father. I love the message behind this symbol. It’s one of comfort, of clarity, of direction and of hope that if you live the commandments, live with intention and Christ-like love, live to serve others and always choose the harder right that you will find your way back to Him.
Our kids go through so much and experience so much out in the world. As a mother, there is a natural protective instinct to shield them against anything adversarial. However, I also know that these experiences are for their good and part of the process of growing and learning. That not everything will be easy and that they will be faced with hard things and choices.
We will give this key chain to each of the kids to put on their book bags with the hope that every time they look at it they will be reminded. Reminded of their purpose and what this earthly life is all about. That they will remember what it means to have Christ-like love and to model their life after Him. That when they ‘hold to the rod’, choose the right and live with Christ-like love that it will guide them down the straight and narrow path. That it will give them true happiness. My hope is that this small and simple keychain may give them comfort on a hard day or simply remind them that they are loved by us and by their Heavenly Father when they need the reminder most. That they will feel like they have a little piece of home with them always.
I also take time to write a small note to each of the kids explaining the message behind the gift and what it is meant for. I also make sure to tell them unique and amazing gifts that each of them possess and how much power can be yielded from kindness and love towards others. As a mother, I hope they look back fondly on this tradition because I know how much it means to me each and every year.
If you are wanting to begin this tradition and like this specific gift idea, you can find this keychain here.
They read aloud the letter that Dad and I had written. Each of them describes the talents and gifts they have as well as reminders to be includers, examples, and leaders at school. To remember who they are and what they stand for as they are away from home each day. To remember that they are each other’s support and protectors. And to remember that they are loved beyond measure.
They then pulled the black velvet ribbon from each of their boxes, opened them, and listened intently as Dad explained the reason behind the gift and the reminder that it will serve day in and day out. We cooked their favorite dinner in the kitchen all together tonight, our favorite tunes playing throughout the house. We danced, we sang, and we talked about the exciting things they will get to do and all that they are looking forward to this year. Gathered together upstairs, father’s blessings were given and the sweetest emotion filled the room. One by one we tucked each one in and left them with a kiss on their forehead and wishes for sweet dreams.
They will never know or realize until they are parents themselves how much comfort and love are held in these traditions. And how hard life is to live with pieces of your heart walking amongst the world, away from arms reach. Motherhood will forever be the most bittersweet experience.
Do have a favorite back-to school tradition in your home? Tell me all about it because I would love to hear. And all the hugs to you, Mama – it’s going to be a great year!