Apparently today is back to school day. Many friends and families are shuttling their sweet little ones off to school, many for the first time. I’m not yet part of this group, we’ve got another year before kindergarten, but a part of me is breathing a sigh of relief.
We have had a great summer, for the most part. We’ve been steadily working through our summer list, cramming in the fair, the aquarium, barbecues, Planes!, the beach, and so much more. Apparently I’ve never given my son an actual ice cream cone, so Carter made sure that was #2 on the list. I have entire memory cards full prolifically documenting the smiles of this summer.
But if I’m really honest, there’s a dark side of the summer mom in me. The exhausted, worn down part of me that really craves that break some moms had. The side that is more than a wee bit jealous of the moms at home who have been hanging out at the pool with their kids and frolicking to the zoo/museum/beach on weekdays when there were less attendees than the weekend throngs. I watched from the sidelines as other moms joyously celebrating a break from packing lunches and looking forward to banishing the alarm clock.
To give you a glimpse into our summer weekday life…
There is no break. Our routine is exactly the same and then some. Each kids needs to be slathered in sunscreen every morning since I gave birth to Casper the friendly ghost and his kid sister. Every Friday we lug both kids’ nap time blankets and loveys home, wash them, and make sure they get back to school on Monday. They need healthy lunches. There are folders to review and, again, return. The school parties seem endless. An appetizer for the school picnic, sliced kiwis for a Hawaii party, and Avery needs 27,000 pairs of underwear a day (did I mention we’re potty training? It’s not going great). And the water days. OH THE WATER DAYS. Everyone goes to school in a bathing suit and even more sunscreen, plus a towel, plus an extra outfit, water shoes and regular shoes, plus a bag for their wet towels and swimsuits. Then we’ve got to deal with all those wet clothes. And to make it extra fun, the day of the week changes. Last week, one poor kid came to school in a bathing suit the day before water day. It was reassuring proof to know I’m not the only one.
I am not on top of my game. All summer I’ve had this nagging fear that I’m going to forget something. On Carter’s first day of pre-K he went to school with a chocolate brownie bar in his lunch. Day 1. It was an organic, baked, whole grain snack but still! At my best, I would never let that happen, lest I be judged as the mom who sends her kids with a chocolate bar for lunch. My best days are long gone.
Yet I’ve learned a lot this summer. I know some of those same moms are currently more than ready to send those kids back, to pack lunches to the moon and back, embrace the alarm clock once again and reinsert some structure into the day to day chaos. I know that “breaks” are relative, and they’re a privilege. The fact that we’ve survived this summer is proof of two things. One, most of the stuff I worry about doesn’t matter because kids are resilient. Two, and this one is a big one, the strength of the Lord will sustain me to care for our family. There is no human way I could have survived the last few months.
So welcome back school year. The time when we’re all in this together, trying to muddle through the right choices making sure everyone’s clothes are on right and their shoes match (mine included). Let’s press in together and cling tightly to the Lord in those moments when we feel the edges of our neatly organized lives begin to fray.