By Lisa Barr
Summer? What summer?
It feels like it never even happened. This week marks what I call the “PRE” week — PRE-school, PRE-extra-curricular activities, PRE-carpools, PRE-chauffeuring, but definitely not PRE-doling out the money. It’s an endless suck of I need this, I need that.
Summer? Remember how not too long ago one of GW’s writers was mooning over her ‘Naked Month’ sans kids? So Totally Over. Put your clothes back on, honey.
In fact, I had this really juicy (borderline raunchy) sex article for today’s blog (not mine … a Dad wrote in) … and I delayed it a few days. Who’s thinking about sex? It’s Back-to-School on the brain all the way.
Today, I was in a popular clothes store in my town with my daughters. The place was jam-packed with every girl I’d ever seen under the age of 15, trying to find that perfect First Day of School shirt. A Mom came up to me: “Be sure to blog that this is what suburban hell looks like …”
Later on, I stopped at a local drugstore and bumped into a Mom/Teacher, who was holding a dozen Sharpies and four packs of red pens. She looked at me, I looked at her, and we both just laughed.
She glanced at her watch. “My summer ends in about six seconds. I’ve got that first meeting back at the school …” She whispered, “You know, I really hate this part. I don’t mind once school begins and I’m in my pattern. But this transition sucks.”
I, too, felt that pit in my stomach, knowing I have just entered the Back-to-School Marathon Week that could be summed up in one word: Forms.
No, make that TWO words: F@%$ing Forms. I HATE THEM.
So much paperwork — high school, junior high, activities, sports, dance classes, medical updates, Fun Lunch, PTO, Picture Day, Locker Day, even Locker Ladder ordering form (shoot me now), and special Smoothies (order various flavors for the FULL year) … it is one long, endless credit card swipe.
And we are ALL in this together. The question is how to survive Hell Week without wanting to just get in your car and drive … AWAY … without stopping … without looking back. How do we keep our sanity and not pull a Thelma & Louise?
Let me just say that I have no answers or advice. We just have to get through this week alive and ticking. I think I just wanted one blog to simply bitch.
But hey, Bitch Needs Company.
The COMMENTS section is totally open to your complaints at the bottom of the page (and feel free to swear). Join me, and let it all out. Give this blog a solid Primal Scream.
Maybe you’re NOT in the thick of it. Maybe you are a Guy — okay, please forgive this totally sexist remark, but maybe YOUR WIFE is doing all the shit work, and you simply have to listen to her at the end of your day. Or maybe you are a last-minute person, who doesn’t get stressed out about a T0-Do-List-On-Steroids. Or maybe you are in the Elite-of-Elite Back-to-School Hell categories — sending your kid off to college. If so, you are in a Stress League of Your Own.
Mani-pedis, ortho, waxing, doctor appointments, buying an entire room (if you’re a College-bound Mom), haircuts, back-to-school clothes/shoes and supplies, locker day, orientation, high school book buying, sports activities/practices begin … the list is endless.
A few minutes ago, I sat down in my backyard for 10 minutes, trying to make sense of this madness. Is there a way around it? Do I do it to myself? Is it merely keeping up with suburban pressures? Do I Over-Succumb to my children’s demands? (My husband would answer All of the Above on my behalf).
And then I felt this incredible wave of sadness.
With school approaching, I’m reminded of my girls getting older. Like really older. Not squishy yummy huggy girls anymore. They want to be left alone. I’m simply a means to an end. Open the checkbook, and just say ahhh …
What I’ve come to realize is that each one of these hell weeks brings me one step closer to losing my babies forever.
And this is THE piece that is really hard for me. Doors are now closed with an invisible Do Not Disturb sign. Video chats are in full-swing, and my girls want their independence, and their nosy journalist of a mom, with her endless barrage of questions, to mind her own business. In fact, my eldest daughter sat me down this week, and said, “Mommy (she still calls me that — and I’m holding on to every inch of it), you need to trust me and not constantly check where I am, what I’m doing. I will be 16 this year. I know you worry, but I need more independence. I will text you and let you know where I am, that I’m safe — but truthfully, you’re a little too much.”
Stab me. Jab me. I never wanted to be THAT parent. But I can’t help it. I worry. I don’t sleep. Will I ever sleep again? If I could only know for sure that they will be safe for the rest of their lives, I could let go.
I nodded to my daughter, but inside I was thinking: What if I don’t want to let you go? What if I am not ready for the next stage? What if I want to bang that closed door down? What if this back-to-school hell week is really about you and your sisters getting older, and moving on …
But I say none of these things because my daughter is asking me to trust her. My daughter who was once attached at my hip 24/7 — was telling me. Let me fly, Mommy. Set me free. AND my ends are split, I need a trim. Can you make that appointment this week too?
Yes, the F&@$-ing Forms are a pain in my ass and so is all the prep for school (I mean, how many school email alerts can one woman get), but this freedom thing is the true pain in my heart, and perhaps the hardest Mommy “form” that I have to sign on to .. Not for me, but for her. For them.
My goal during this back-to-school frenzy is to somehow connect with my kids in-between all the in-betweens. Some of the best conversations with my kids are during all the driving — looking at them in the rear-view mirror and listening to their side comments (once they glance up from their texting) about their lives, their friends — revealing what they actually think about.
Perhaps, the secret to surviving this week (and probably the rest of the school year and all the transitions) is Acceptance and Surrendering. So New Age-y — but what else do we have to go on except for this: Every mom, no matter the ages of their kids, is in your boat, riding out the same tidal wave.
And, as my 101-year-old grandfather says: This, too, shall pass.