You can keep the key

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Monday was Blake's last day of 3-year-old preschool, and for the past month, I've been counting down. Elementary school will end in two weeks and then, Dillon, my rising second grader, will be on vacation too. I'm ready for summer. Perhaps it's because of all the crazy and scary things that are happening in the world, or maybe it's because of shifts and changes within me, but I want my kids to be home. I'm ready for a new rhythm without all of the back and forth, the up and down the road, and the constant watching of the clock. 

But as I drove Blake to school for the end of the year party, I felt a conflicting sense of sadness. I looked down at the plastic key card attached to the blue rope hanging around my neck. I hate turning in the key.  When parents toss them in a box on the way out the door, it marks the milestone with a physical display of we're all done here! and a cold, noncommittal thunk.  

When we arrived there was a note on the door saying that returning families could keep their keys and that the school will reactivate them in the fall.  We get to keep the key! Suddenly it didn't feel like goodbye. It didn't feel like Blake was being thrust from one stage of childhood and into the next. It felt like a cheery, have a great summer! see you soon!

It's just a key. It's just preschool. But it woke me up to the never-ending need to feel at home, to be a part of something. The search for home, in my outer world and within myself, is a constant thread that runs through my life. At times, this need has clouded my decisions. Other times, it has provided tremendous clarity.

I tend to hold on, even when I'm ready to move on.  And so this time, I was glad to keep the key. It served as a bridge to help me drive away.