The mood in our house right now reminds me of my all-time favorite Staples TV commercial. The spot goes back about 20 years and features the festive Christmas song,”It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
The commercial features an ecstatic father shopping for school supplies with his children. The children are slowly following behind, looking as if they are headed for death row.
The voice-over in the commercial says, “They’re going back!”
Tuesday is the first day of school in our little corner of the world. The first bus will arrive around 7:15, and off Lizzy will go to third grade. The second bus shows up at 7:35 to take my baby Peter away to first grade.
Less than an hour later, I’ll take my oldest, Tom, to middle school for seventh grade.
Oh Happy Day!
Or is it?
Now I realize that if you happen to be reading this while nursing one baby and holding another little one out of harm’s way with your leg the idea of six hours without children sounds heavenly.
I’m not going to lie. It ain’t bad.
But it wasn’t what I thought it would be either.
I would talk to my friends whose children were at school full time and be envious. They would talk about being busier than they ever thought they would be, and I would smile and nod. Deep down I would think they really had the life. No children home, the ability to shop and do errands without anybody crying, melting down, or asking for Oreos.
I would usually have to cut short the phone call or visit. I either had to pick someone up from preschool or rescue someone from the top bunk bed because it seemed like a good idea to climb up but not so much fun climbing down.
Last year Peter started full-time kindergarten. I had visions of long lunches, long workouts at the gym, cleaning rooms that haven’t been cleaned since I had him in 2005.
Turns out, my friends were right. Those six hours go fast!
With the start of school comes all that homework. I’m not talking about the children’s homework. I fully accept my role as homework cop. I’m grateful that I’m the one who gets to torture them and go over their weekly spelling lists.
I’m talking about the mommy homework.
There’s an endless series of forms to fill out and notices to keep track of for three kids, in three different schools. Then I have to get prescriptions for all three kids for occupational and physical therapy. After that I have to trek back to the doctors office because the original dates on the prescriptions were wrong.
Perhaps the biggest assignment is delivering the EpiPen, Benadryl, and inhaler to the nurse at Tom’s school to treat emergency flare-ups of Tom’s allergies and asthma.
Did I mention the notes from therapists and teachers? What about the endless teacher conferences? Or the stream of checks for PTA dues, class dues, gifts for teachers, class trips, subscriptions for various class magazines, and a million other things.
I’m tired just thinking of what’s in store.
Next come the phone calls I dread.
I have to say I really enjoy the summer break from the panic I feel each time the phone rings. Once school starts all that changes. Now when the phone rings, I have a pretty decent chance of finding out that someone bumped their head, fell asleep in the middle of class, or is having an allergic reaction.
The one I dread most is the yo-yo syndrome. This is when you send your little darling to school and the nurse calls to tell you that the child who looked perfectly healthy two hours earlier while he was torturing his brother is now sick as a dog.
Sometimes I get to enjoy a little pocket of time. I was able to start my blog once all three kids were in school, and I love being a full-fledged mommy blogger. I even have had the occasional long lunch or coffee date with a friend. It’s times like this that I feel extremely blessed and grateful for the life I have.
I like the crazy runaround pace of being an at home mom. Part of me is just wired for chaos. My house is cleaner when I have 10 minutes to clean it rather than when I have three hours.
The one real downside is that I’m going to miss my kids.
Please don’t tell them that. It will spoil my image. But I had a wonderful summer with them, especially my oldest, Tom.
For the first time in six years, Tom didn’t go to the full-day summer camp the school district has for children who need year-round academic support. His dyslexia always made him eligible to attend, and he always enjoyed it. He would spend the morning in the typical day camp and the afternoon working on his academic issues.
Tom did so well in sixth grade he was no longer eligible. While Lizzy and Peter were off to camp having a ball, I had Tom all to myself. For the first time since he was a baby I had some real one-on-one time with him. I loved it.
We would spend the morning walking with my dad, and then he would swim with friends or just hang out with them. Some days we would go for sushi or to the movies. I saw The Planet of Apes, Captain America, and The Zookeeper. All were movies I would never have attended had I not had a 12-year-old boy. I had a blast.
Now it’s all over. There are school supplies to separate and put in backpacks, pencils to sharpen, notes to write to teachers, and chaos to deal with.
As much as I love to complain, I am eternally grateful for my beautiful family.
But as Peter is now asking for popcorn for the 20th time in five minutes, the thought that I may be able to finish a thought come Tuesday has me agreeing with the Staples commercial: It is the most wonderful time of the year!