For a mom, the first day of first grade is different than the first day of kindergarten.
I choked up and took 23,000 photos. I stood at the bus stop and waved at the bus until it was a tiny yellow rectangle on the highway. And then I breathed. For the first time in three months.
I am a mother, hardened by the turmoils of summer camp. Of split shifts so I could shuttle my kid from one summer camp to the next. Of waking up every morning pondering how to patch the holes in our family schedule for less money than I would earn that day.
My once supple mom heart has been sharpened by the whetstone of a bizarrely outdated system that no one understands, everyone (except teachers and kids) hates but refuses to change, and is biased toward wealthy or single-income households, or the 1800s before air conditioning or fans in classrooms and when children could toil on their family farm and not land Ma and Pa in prison.
We're none of those.
I refuse to accept that my baby Bettie Anne is one year older, yet I desperately embrace the regular schedule of public education again. This combo complicates my emotions.
My only tears last week were of relief.
Finally, I had time to put on more than just lip gloss and shave my big toes and wear clothing with zippers and buttons. Finally, I had my schedule again, and with it, the capacity for self-care.
I wasn't sure where to even start. So I reached out to the fashion experts at Boulder's boutique, Willow (willowboulder.com), to get some style starting points.
Late next month, Willow is holding a fashion show in celebration of its third anniversary.
According to Willow, there are five style trends to consider this fall when planning your own back-to-school outfit (yes, moms get to celebrate, too):
Even as we leave summer behind. This fall, look for both abstract and realistic floral prints of all sizes, from small flowers to large ones. You'll also see romantic, Victorian-inspired florals (that almost look like they should be on wallpaper in a historic home).
Unlike spring florals, these colors are darker, often jewel tones. You will also find florals on a black background, rather than white. For some texture, try embroidered florals on blouses or pants.
2. Intricate detailing.
Here's another style that is typically owned by the warmer seasons: lace. Find jewel tone and black lace on blouses (with exaggerated bell sleeves), pants and dresses.
In addition, embroidery, sequins and bead work are big, and not just in simple patterns. Willow has one blouse with a multi-colored sequin pattern on the cuff that serves more as a special detail than a flashy sparklesplosion. Some designers are accenting cuffs and collars with beads and sequins together.
Other details include stitching in a contrasting color and undone hems — little features you might not notice from a distance.
3. Different shades of red.
This one doesn't surprise me. Red is in every fall, although last year, it was a rich oxblood shade. This year, it's any and every shade, from merlot to fire engine. Don't hesitate to try a bold red skirt or pair of pants with a patterned top.
In this case, red is considered a neutral, or you can pair it with red or camel gray as a pop of color.
4. Bomber jackets.
My inner '80s child is tickled by how cool bomber jackets are. Unlike Members Only, however, the updated version is elegant, with sequins, satin, patches and embroidery. You can wear these bombers on top of a cocktail dress, or with jeans to dress them up. Acid wash optional.
5. Luxe Bohemian.
Boho is always in around Boulder, but this fall's expression of it is much dressier. Willow describes it as "Peruvian cocktail hour" or even French chic meets Free People. Imagine flowy Bohemian cuts, but in silk and satin. Look for the new line by Cinq à Sept.
Aimee Heckel: twitter.com/aimeemay