I have a confession to make. I always thought I had it worse than all of you regular school moms this time of year.
While you were jumping for joy to have your kids out of the house on the first day of school, I was pouring myself another cup of coffee and surveying the crime scene that is my messy house. I rounded up my homeschooled children to cajole them into starting math, and dreamed of what it would look like to have an entire day with no children underfoot.
You made it look so easy to ship your kids off to school every fall. I saw you at Target, confidently filling your carts according to the supply lists clutched firmly in your hands. I saw how you posed your kids at the front door in their new duds and snapped adorable pictures – which you promptly posted on Facebook. And I saw your elation as nine months of someone else handling the little bairns during the day commenced.
This appears to have been false advertising.
Because I am now one of you. And I have never been this frazzled at the start of a school year. Ever.
As a homeschool mom, I sort of eased into the academic year. Sure, I ordered new curriculum over the summer. But there was no pressure or deadline to buy supplies or get haircuts or purchase an entire new wardrobe. I took my cue from your Facebook posts that school was starting, so the kids and I shrugged our shoulders, sharpened some leftover pencils and got to work.
But this year two my kids are heading to school for the first time. And it is kicking my butt.
There have been umpteen meetings and preview parties and back to school nights. There was shopping for new clothes and new shoes and new backpacks and new everything. There were supplies to be sorted into give to teacher and stay with child categories. There were school physicals and immunizations and the forms to go with them. There was a school calendar to sync. And by the looks of things, when school starts, there will be no shortage of class picnics and teacher conferences and spelling bees and science fairs and school programs to attend.
And what is the deal with all of the forms? I never realized that sending your children to school required this much paperwork. I swear I could mortgage my home, adopt a child and file my taxes with less paperwork than I completed to send two kids to school. And it just keeps coming.
By the way, I WILL need to mortgage my home after shopping for grocery bags full of Kleenex, bleach wipes, notebooks, paper, scissors, glue and Crayola brand everything. Especially given the fact that after everything was sorted and ready, my kindergartener dumped out every last box of markers and ran off with the rest of the supplies to play school. So I got to buy some stuff twice.
I have no doubt that by the end of the year I will be tossing a box of dry pasta in the lunch box. But for now I purchased the cute little snack bags, fruit snacks and individual fruit cups the likes of which my pantry has never seen. My kids are absolutely mesmerized by all of this processed goodness. And I have spent the past week shooing them away bellowing, “No, you can NOT have an applesauce! Hey! Put those peaches back! Get away from the fruit snacks! Those are for LUNCHES!” every five seconds.
And the emails. Holy crap, the emails. How does anyone manage to keep this much information in their brain? Updates and forms and reminders and snack requirements and book club orders and last minute info and oh my gosh I am dying over here.
All of my mom friends smile knowingly and nod in understanding when I lament that I am drowning in all of this back to school business. Evidently this is all very normal. Which begs the question,
Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that back to school was this much work?
We are beyond thrilled with the school we chose for our kids. The amazing teachers and staff have been interminably patient with this first-time school mom. And I keep reminding myself that of this work will pay dividends as my kids enjoy a fantastic year of learning.
But I, for one, won’t be jumping for joy on the first day. I’ll be collapsing on the back to school finish line then heading home for a nap.
And to the rest of my mom friends, regardless of how your kids will be educated this year, I hope you get to do the same.