I started my day like many other working moms: I served my son breakfast, brushed his teeth, didn't bother to brush his hair, got him dressed in an outfit that sort of matched, packed his backpack, and rushed him out the door to get to daycare. Except today was technically his first day in the big-kid room, which is technically preschool now, so this was technically his first day of school. But because I'm still sending my checks to the same place I did last month and every month before that since Jeremy was 12 weeks old, I didn't even think to mark the occasion with a special stoop picture with a personalized sign naming the date and the grade and maybe even what he wants to be when he grows up (a firefighter some days; a superhero on others).
When I got to my office and logged into Facebook (for work-related reasons, of course), I was met with a steady, smiling stream of impeccably dressed children, like AJ, above, all boasting their parents' careful planning.
As I hit like on each one that popped up, I felt like I was denying Jeremy of the privilege of revisiting his first days in the future. "I would've made you a sign," my equally busy friend, Nicole, kindly offered after I confessed to Facebook that I sucked for not taking a first-day-of-school picture. On my chest, I should wear a scarlet "PF," for "Pinterest Failure," so everyone knows not to expect crafty greatness from me to mark any milestone my child reaches. But as my much more organized friends reminded me, I didn't suck. And it was nothing short of a miracle that these kids posed happily for their pictures.
I don't have any first-day-of-school photos, that I can remember anyway. I certainly didn't have a custom sign, though my artsy mom would've been all over that had it been a thing in the 80s. These pictures and accompanying signs are wonderful mementos, but so are all the pictures we do take of our kids, from everyday moments, like snuggling on the couch or making a mess so big that if you didn't laugh, you'd cry, to the official school pictures you pay a week's salary for, even though they're rarely any good, to precious Halloween and school-play photos. Even if you don't take all of those, odds are you or some snap-happy grandparent capture/s some. Put 'em all together and you have a very full timeline of your child's growth and progress. Besides, unless you take these every single year, your adult child won't ever look at the albums (do people still make those?) and wonder, "Hey, why didn't my mom take a picture of me on my first day of pre-K?"
What matters more than those (albeit adorable) first-day shots is that when you're reunited after the long work day, you ask your child what day one was like. Then, perhaps over a gourmet meal of last night's leftover chicken fingers, you celebrate what was successful and offer encouragement on what could have gone better. That's my plan for this evening, anyway. And if you're still feeling crappy for not memorializing that first day of school, guess what? There will be another first day next year ... and plenty of time to make (or order) that sign.