The Back-to-School Hangover!

Dara LevanBlog38 Comments

Summer break is over. It’s as if it never happened. Like a car shifting gears, all parents (at least in South Florida) are revving up for the academic year. I hear constant comments such as, “Can you believe the kids are going back to school” and “Where does the time go?”

Some mommies and daddies are leaving their darling toddlers at preschool for the first time. Other parents are sending their children to college. My kids are entering 7th and 10th grade. And I feel like I have a back-to-school hangover! Can anyone relate? Caffeine has become my new best friend. I’ve have recently learned from a patient and knowledgeable soul—thank you Karen—how to percolate and press organic coffee beans.

I wished my middle school daughter and high school son a wonderful first day. (Really??? WHEN did this happen? If you can solve this mystery, please send me an email or note! It. Is. Absolutely. Mind. Bending.) They slept fine. I, on the other hand, did not. My brain buzzed with my annual night before school anticipation, excitement, and curiosity about the days and months ahead.  (Some things never change—I was the same way as a kid.)

So you may think this post, like many others I’ve read in the past few weeks, is a sappy, wistful piece about my children growing older. How I (maybe) cried a bit as they left the car. Or perhaps it’s about how much I adore them with every ounce of my being.

I am involved with their lives because I care so deeply about each of them. I love hearing them laugh with their friends. I may be insane—I realize it’s more convenient to share the driving. But since the kids were toddlers, I have cherished our time together in the car. It’s when I teach them about “if you’re my child you ought to know” topics such as music (think U2, The Police, Queen, R.E.M., Indigo Girls, Mozart, Bach, Broadway…yes, a diverse mix of genres).

I deliver relevant, urgent mini-sermons such as “if you EVER text while driving…” or “I am a mother, journalist, and speech therapist–do not underestimate me. That combo is worse than the CIA/FBI!” They’re trapped. They’re a captive audience. More than all of the above? We often have special and spontaneous conversations in the car. (Like Friday morning for instance. I told my son I got a free sample of acne cream for him.  He looked at the tube and said, “No mom. Neutrogena has failed me.”) We were hysterical. Then my daughter said, “Mommy. I love when you drive us to school—you have such good energy.”)

Waking, rushing, and mobilizing the kids so they get to their first class on time is quite a feat. And staying patient during the turtle-paced school zones and avoiding distracted parents who are texting while moving is another challenge. It’s like a live but scary game of Frogger! (Yep. Another ’80s reference.). But what’s worse? The back-to-school hangover.

You know of what I speak. I never slept late over the summer. I’m an annoyingly chipper morning person. Yet now? My head feels as if it’s tripled in weight. My body seems to be stuck to my mattress. This week has been a tug-of-war between my head saying “Girl, get vertical! It’s time to adult!” and my emotions pulling me into the bed like quicksand.

And how about shopping for school supplies? The kids asked to stop by Office Depot after the first day. I assumed it be a brief errand before heading home. It sounds simple, right? Park the car, walk into the store, and purchase the usual necessary items. Think again, folks!

When did back-to-school shopping require a Ph.D.! Who remembers Trapper Keepers, three-ringed binders, and basic lined paper? Yea? Me, too. Well, my thankfully organized kids brought their lengthy lists with them. Glue sticks? Easy. I even found a pack of four on sale. Pencils? No problem.

But then I hear “paper or plastic.” I scan the bustling building. Did I in my delirium drive to the grocery store? Nope. I saw screens, keyboards, pens, and paper. I look at the salesman. I ask him to what he is referring. Ohhhh. DUH! Silly mom. Folders! And the next decisions…with or without pockets? Holographic designs—it makes me queasy just looking at them—plain, funky, or with an inspiring message? And now there are “fashionable composition books” and totally impractical, creatively shaped sticky notes. You can maybe fit five words on each.

I cross paths with a few moms from school. They look like I feel—exhausted, overwhelmed, and frazzled. But then I pause. I laugh. I tell the kids how ludicrous this is. Education isn’t about blingy pencil cases or shiny locker decor. It’s about learning. It’s about growing. And that all happens with your mind, heart, determination, and focus. I said this as we waited in the long line.

We get home. We unpack. I ungracefully flop on the couch. I hear them calling from upstairs. “I need you to sign my syllabus! I have a field trip form, too! Can we get bananas? What’s for dinner?” These requests reverberate throughout my home. I take a deep breath. I will my body to rise and walk to the stainless steel French press. It’s time for cup number two. This time it’ll be a decaf, dark roast. I also inhale half a protein bar.

Refueled. Recharged. Refreshed. Recaffeinated. I’m now ready for the second half of the day. Sorting schedules. Medical forms to pick up. Piano. Tennis. Karate. Oh my! Hang in there moms and dads! Next week we will all get back into our school groove. Until then, there’s coffee (And for some of you — wine and chocolate!).


38 Comments on “The Back-to-School Hangover!”

  1. I get it, and my little guy is only in preschool! This weekend’s task: toddler gardening gloves. Where in the world (besides amazon) does a mother find these things??

  2. Ohhhhhhh my Lisa frank trapper keepers were the BEST ever. Now- they required of us 12 folders with pockets and prongs and 8 -1″ binders. Ohhhhh come back simple Lisa Frank trapper keepers with the kissing dolphins and one pack of notebook paper and a clear plastic pencil pouch. COME BACK!!!

  3. Love the 80s references Dara – such great memories! I was running around like a lunatic tonight getting everything ready for Olivia’s first day tomorrow. What on earth happened to summer?? And I sure hope the shoes I bought her a few months ago still fit. I can’t even fathom high school right now.

    On another note – I love the car time with my kids too. It’s second to bedtime, my absolute favorite.

  4. 1) love your music pics! My kids were brought up with the same!
    2) I’m one of your coffee, wine and chocolate girls!
    3) you have a way of expressing what we are all thinking! Thank you for that! Looking forward to the next one!

    1. 1. I greatly appreciate you reading!
      2. I also am grateful for your sweet, thoughtful comments!
      3. I’m posting my next entry today!
      4. I hope you are having a fabulous weekend! xo

  5. Though I am definitely on the coffee-wine-repeat schedule, I also on the cherish every moment. My oldest is a high school senior. Like the newborn baby days, even the less desirable tasks become bittersweet when you know they are coming to an end soon. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Mandee! I appreciate you taking the time to read! I will be posting my next entry soon. Every Sunday eve! I hope all is well with you and your beautiful fam.

    1. Aw. Thanks, Michele!!! I’m going to post my next blog entry soon! I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend! xo

  6. Love YOU sister and look forward to watching this grow. Your daughter is right, YOU do have great energy, and I’m grateful you are sharing it here with US! Keep Shining Sister!

    1. Thank you SO much, Laura!!! I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read my post!! Big hugs to you! D

  7. What a fun read!! Another perfect companion to my not so fancy (Kirkland, ground, percolated), morning coffee(s)…
    Thanks Dara!!

    1. Thank you so much, Galia! It’s not about fancy java–it’s about pausing to appreciate the moment you (we) are in. xoxo

    1. Thank you SO much, Theresa! It’s wonderful to hear from you!!! Your words mean the world to me. I hope all is well. Big hugs!! Dara

  8. I second Emily’s Trapper Keeper cry! They were the best. Thanks for sharing Dara. Keep them coming!

  9. Oh Dara…I feel
    Like we are living the SAME life. This post was eerily similar to my first week. Everything from kids in the same grades, Office Depot and listening to the same music (my girls are so sick of Indigo Girls). Love your blogs, continue to live your dream ?

    1. Erin!

      Maybe we can finally get together?! So glad you’re connecting with the writing/topics. That makes my heart smile! I appreciate your kind words. ??? Just posted yesterday. I will write and read the blog posts every Sunday eve.

      Big hugs!!!

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