For busy moms, the end of school is like finishing a long distance Olympic race. Running like animals, hot, exhausted and ready to quit but knowing we’ve come too far now. Our kids might be hopping on that bus with zero sunscreen and a mismatched sock or two, but darn it, we’re almost there.
Any mom of school-aged children knows of the exact brand of madness I speak. The last few weeks of school are pure insanity, and frankly it’s only gotten worse over the past couple decades. The field trips, field days, elementary/middle/high school graduation ceremonies, yearbook orders, band concerts, teacher gifts…there are legit more school related reminders on my work Outlook calendar than there are actual work meetings.
To be fair, I’m tackling the new adventure of a blended family with four in school and one in college, so the madness is fairly overwhelming. But even having one in school can be nuts these days. Because frankly, everything is more involved, even during the normal school year. Do any of these events sound familiar to elementary moms? Here’s a small sampling of last month:
– Tomorrow: “Wear your team color day!”
– Tuesday: “Wear your sports jersey day!
-Wednesday: “Crazy sock day! Get creative!” (Um. what?!)
– Thursday: “Wear your jammies to school day!”
-Friday: “Bring a stuffed animal to school day!”
-Monday: “Don’t forget about hat day!”
-Tuesday: “Don’t forget to bring in a tee shirt for tie-dye day!”
Add this kind of nonsense to having to monitor our kid’s every move on PowerSchool while carpooling to after school sports chaos and you might just spot a mom or two sending their kid to school in sleepwear a day or two too early. (sorry buddy!) I mean, when exactly should we find time to juggle this kind of shizzle? In between work Zoom calls, carpooling and the shrapnel of exercise we’re trying to maintain so we’re at least not the out-of-shape mom sending her kid to school without a stuffie.
I’ve watched some of those younger, first-time moms pull it off with obnoxious amounts of grace and seeming joy. “How fun this year’s green team is, right? SO many theme days, they really know how to engage the kids…they deserve this after Covid.” Bet she’s the psycho petitioning for more chaperones this year.”
I think this quandy is especially heightened for Gen X moms of a certain age. We didn’t have second grade graduation or hand delivered lawns signs announcing our grade level transitions to the neighbors. If we were lucky, we found out who our next teacher would be, on the last day of school. We only had one field day when graduating elementary school, and we were just happy getting a year book if our parents remembered to pay. Now, every grade transition is like a graduation from West Point. I would not be shocked if at some point, a red carpet ceremony was incorporated into our last day festivities.
What’s even more insane/ hilarious is most of us, at one point did participate in what I refer to as the honeymoon period. Think about the level of care we took during the first few weeks of school… the way we packed lunches, for example. Ice packs cooling overnight. Hand written notes in the ‘lil ones’ lunches. Outfits were ironed laid out (okay just laid out) the night before, and all the necessary forms were signed and packed. I would literally spiral my daughter’s hair before school to ensure she was the prettiest princess every to grace the second grade and squeeze in a short devotional every morning. Fast forward nine months and I might’ve just licked syrup off her cheek before heading out the door with last night’s bobby pins in her head. (For more laughter on this, check out this epic slideshow of first and last day of school comparison pics)!
Our level of parental oversight also commonly diminishes through the year. I’ve gone from checking my two middle schoolers’ Power School weekly, to yelling down the stairs before school “you turned in all your stuff, right?!” I used to line our three boys up to inspect that one special place in the back of the head that always seems to allude the comb, dousing their unkept heads with water before catching the bus. Now they leave looking moderately homeless.
Because quite simply, we’re done. We have a few more weeks left, and we’re army-crawling towards the finish line. I was going offer some tips and suggestions to temper the end-of-school exhaustion, like creating a daily calendar and divvying up tasks with your spouse, but honestly, it’ll be madness no matter what.
My best advice s to literally plan a celebration with your girlfriends, or a date night with the hubs, or treat yourself to something big like a spa day (cuz in my experience moms do 90 percent of the school-related work…prove me wrong, fellas!) We should view every passing school year as a little celebration of our mothering. We did it. We hounded them to get off their devices and read for 15 minutes nightly. We’ve packed lunches with one eye open at 6 am daily, hunted down hundreds of matching socks, and cheered through three seasons of soccer, basketball and whatever-else-ball. Congrats, friends. Savor summer, and may September never come. xo
For more on school-related stress check out my Huff Post piece, “My Epic Back-to-School Manifesto.”