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!).