The Last First Day

September 9, 2015

This morning as I dropped off my youngest child at school I was weepy. Was this Kindergarten or PreK? No, this was fifth grade. Finn is over five feet tall. He has been going to the same school since her was four years old. Why was I weepy? This marks the end of an era for me – as a mom, as a community member, as someone who is seeing time go by in my middle years.

This is my last First Day of School at the Earth School.


My first First day of Earth School was in September of 2000. For the last fifteen years I have been trekking up and down Avenue B in the East Village of New York City


Just north of 14th Street is Stuyvesant Town where we live. I have walked in snow, sleet, rain and in the blazing sun to get to our beloved elementary school. I have walked with babies in my belly, babies in slings and babies in strollers. I have seen teachers come and go and some come back! I have been through three principles. I have fund raised and recruited other families. I have escorted countless field trips often with a toddler in tow!


At Earth I have found community. I have met some of my closest friends. My family has forged relationships with other families with whom we share holidays and birthdays.

I remember the first annual Earth School Auction.

I have enjoyed the art on the walls and read some inspiring poetry and memoirs by the wonderful children who populate the halls and hearts of our community.

I remember when the roof garden was an idea and then it became real.

I have seen families grow and I have seen families leave. I have seen tragedy and great joy and simply ordinary days at Earth. I was at Earth that terrifying morning on September 11, 2001.

I have watched children perform on the stage.


I have nursed babies in the halls and in the lobby. I have sold popcorn and cookies in the lobby. I have done on-the-spot lactation consulting in the lobby.

I have grown as a human at Earth. I have watched my children grow and thrive. I have seen them learn to tie their shoes and learn conflict resolution and learn to construct a sentence and to defend an original idea.

I have learned about community building and about celebrating the seasons by marching in Tompkins Square Park to celebrate solstices and equinoxes.


I learned about what education is. I have learned so much more. I have learned to let go and watch my babies grow into smart, confident people.

In nine months my youngest child will graduate from the Earth School. But today is the first day of fifth grade for Finn. I will embrace this day and open my heart to the Earth community.

Migrant Mother at MoMA

March 9, 2011

I took a trip with Chloe’s 4th/5th grade class to the Museum of Modern Art. They are studying heroes – everyday heroes. Brandon, one of Chloe’s classmates quickly pointed out that moms are heroes. He loves his mom. He told me, “Moms work really hard all day long but they make it look easy.”

Our MoMa tour guide, Grace, took us through the Museum. It was Tuesday, which is the day MoMA is closed to the public. It was so great to see the amazing art without crowds. Grace took us to the gallery to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It was truly breathtaking.

We saw Andy Warhol’s Gold Marilyn Monroe, Picasso’s Girl in the Mirror and the beautiful sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity and Space by Umberto Boccioni.

The most moving exhibit for me yesterday was Dorothea Lange’s photographs of the Great Depression. We focused on Migrant Mother. Grace asked the children to comment on it and share their observations. They noted her pained look into the distance, they noted the determination in her expression, they noted the children  on either side of her. I was proud that Chloe noticed the baby in her lap – it is not so obvious. I noticed the baby looked full faced, well fed. I asked Chloe if she knew why the bay looked healthy when the others looked thin. She  rolled her eyes and let out a sigh and said, “because she nurses him.”  Grace looked over at us. I shared my observation of the full faced baby and Grace commented, “well, yes, the mother is determined to get her children fed.”  I said, “the baby is clearly breastfed.” Grace looked at me askance. I smiled. We moved on.

I was so moved by the exhibit and this photograph. I went home and googled Dorothea Lange and Migrant Mother. The Migrant Mother is Florence Owens Thompson. I will not get into the controversy surrounding the photos of Mrs. Thompson but I did find that Dorothea Lange took a few other images of her. There is a beautiful image of her nursing the baby.

Go to the MOMA.