Last year around this time, Jen Hatmaker authored a hilarious blog post titled “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.” How quickly another year has whizzed by, only to find us all here, dangling from the proverbial school mother of the year tree branch, whimpering for a life boat, or at least an original lunchbox idea. (Preferably one that does not require the culinary gumption of the Barefoot Contessa, and miniature die cutters so at 5 a.m., I can gleefully cut out organic cheese into the shape of the International Space Station.) Yep, it is time to again reflect on how little, and I mean a SCANT amount of gas we moms have left in the school year tank. Fumes, people, FUMES! It is now May 1, and I have to dangle for five more weeks. I can only hope and pray that I have enough fumes to hang on to that school branch until June 6. It’s gonna be close. Real. Effing. Close.
The next five weeks hold an insurmountable bevy of school related activities. We have the end of the year classroom parties, graduations, field trips, teacher appreciation weeks, sports banquets, middle school dances, and most likely a few classmate birthday parties thrown in the mix. Dear Lord – NO more birthday party invites. Just NO. Fenton’s are off the cake circuit until fall. We have all simultaneously hit the laser tagging, bounce housing, roller skating, sleepover-ing, bowling party WALL. (Listen to me young married ladies, if you are trying to conceive, DO NOT try for a June baby. No way in hell you will have the strength to throw a kick butt birthday party in the month of June. Or, for that matter, even manage to deliver store bought cupcakes to the classroom. Just forget it. Shoot for September.) Anyway, these activities require all of us dangling and weary moms to work together in unity. Happily! Gratefully! In Unity! That’s right. Leave it to a pack of wild moms, drooling and begging for June, to be forced into civil and cooperative party planning when all we really want to do is hit the summer highway, and leave the parent school association in our dust. At this point, the only thing we can manage to do in unity is swear, and send each other texts like “When the %^* was that project due again?” and “R U #$^%*ing kidding? We have 2 make what 4 what? By tomorrow?” We are, however, as we dangle from the branch, staunchly united in one simple statement of solidarity- Make. It. Stop. Make it ALL. JUST. STOP.
Make the breakfast cooking STOP. I curse myself for having morphed into that mom who cooks a hot breakfast every day. What was I thinking? I never worked at Denny’s. Hell, before I got married I could barely scramble an egg. Now several mornings a week I have scrambled half the damn carton by 6:30 a.m., because once you drive down that wonderful hot breakfast highway, there is no getting off the cold cereal exit. And they all just keep asking for it, day after day, as if I’m sporting a name tag reading “Flo” and donning a pink and white pinafore, gripping a notepad and smacking gum, with a pencil sticking out of my bouffant. Is Mel’s diner open this morning? Damn you September mom, who was mixing up whole grain pancakes then pouring them into autumnal themed pancake molds. Or, baking from scratch fruit filled muffins, egg burritos, and Belgian friggin’ waffles. Flo is so over. This week’s breakfast menu includes toast. Probably only one piece. Want two? Knock your brother over. Just go ahead and take him out, I don’t care. If we have butter consider yourself lucky. Out of bread? It’s saltine city sweetheart. Protein has left the building. Sure you can have orange juice, but please drink it out of the jug. I have also quit washing the sink full of morning pans, plates, and cups, so if you use a glass you better run. Fast. Out the front door. Whatever dirty breakfast dishes I find I am just going to toss in the garbage. Hey, simple living is in. I’ve walked through the Swiss Family Robinson house at Disney World. They survived.
Make the lunch packing STOP. All 4 of them. Every day. And this is coming from a mom who owns cookbooks based solely on school lunch recipes, has a Pinterest board dedicated to lunchbox ideas, and often prints out cute notes to tuck inside. “You’re A- mazing! I’m bananas for U! Orange you glad it’s lunchtime!” I know. Seriously. September mom at her best. This all has led me to have my weekly “I am going on a mom strike like TODAY!” moment, at which time I proudly announced I am no longer packing school lunches for the current school year. Done. Over. El fin de almuerzo. The lunch lady split people. I. Just. Cannot. Pack. Another effing lunch. No more sandwiches cut out like dinosaurs, no more kabobbed fresh fruit, and googly-eyed muffins, and no more homemade baked goods. Boys, it’s time to meet a sweet little girl I know. Her name is Little Debbie. Meet her BFF, Nutty Bar. Oh, and if you are looking for fiber, there is a four month old apple at the bottom of the produce drawer. Maybe 3 grapes, and some cranberries I bought last Thanksgiving. And I think one petrified mozzarella stick. Go for it. Hey, aged cheese is gourmet cheese. “Orange you glad you had toast for breakfast!”
Make the laundry STOP. Clean p.e. uniforms, clean dress uniforms, clean soccer uniforms, golf polos, soccer shorts, tennis shorts. Day in. Day out. I know I am supposed to be full of laundry joy, like that old laundry saying says, “Be grateful for all those little blessings of clothes.” By now, buttons are popping off, sleeves are constricting growing biceps, navy dress shorts are faded, and white shirts are dingy gray. My once bright and crisp looking boys are borderline trailer park fashion models by May 1. Nobody has worn matching socks since February. Toes are coming out the front of shoes. Belts are peeling. “Mom, I need new school shoes!” Yea, no way I am buying new school shoes in May. And NO, I am not climbing to the back of the closet to dig out the next size up shorts for a few weeks of wear. No, I don’t care if you go to school looking like you slept in a ditch last night. It’s Catholic school, tell them you are embracing your inner John the Baptist. Wear flip flops. Heck, even the new Pope ditched his flashy duds. No bath? No teeth brushing? No hand washing? Fine by me. Water loves you back kid. It’s called saving the planet, via one dangling mom at a time.
Make the school sports STOP. Please. No match tie breaks, or extra innings, or overtimes. No playoffs, shoot outs, no championships. Please just lose already! Throw in the towel. Throw down your racket. Throw the soccer ball in traffic. Throw the golf ball in the drink. Just. Stop. Playing. Sorry, but I just don’t see you on ESPN’s top plays of 2030. Guess what? I’m totally fine with that. You know where I really need to be after school? My couch. Not a field, a fairway, a court, a diamond, or a set of bleachers. Me, the team bus driver, is now filing a complaint with the NTSB claiming lack of mandated rest, and compromised health. Nobody should be driving children to sporting events when they possess the blood sugar levels of a gnat (skipped lunch- was planning graduation party! Yay me!) AND got the same amount of sleep last night of your average bat (was crafting 20 teacher appreciation week gifts- Yay again!) I am personally lobbying next year for extracurricular activities that only take place at Barnes & Noble and SuperTarget, and include free caffeine for everyone over age 40, plus transportation to and fro, with healthy snacks on board.
Make the bedtime routine STOP. The showers, the story reading, the school bag packing, the clothes laying out, the homework signing. Check. Check. CHECK! Think early October. Our bedtime routine was executed with military precision and perfection. Everybody peacefully tucked in and the next morning’s necessities lined up waiting by the door. I have since gone AWOL. Out of sheer and total burned out-ness, I have become a master of “Mom is going to lie down now.” (Lie down, because saying ‘going to bed’ means a kid will inevitably climb in with you and, well, if you give a mouse a muffin……) I then say, “While I lie down, you need to get ready for bed by yourself.” I tried it one night recently at about 8:15. It worked. I have backed it up incrementally. 8:10, 8:00, 7:45, 7:30. Last night I said it at 5:30. I was snoring by 8. I have no clue just exactly how ready for bed they got. And this May mom doesn’t give a crap. Rock on independent kids! Oh helicopter parents, where do you find the energy? I currently have the keen supervisory skills of a drone who is nose diving with dead batteries. Please charge me and plug me back in one day in late August.
Make the planning for school this fall, that’s right, this FALL (I kid you not) STOP. What classes will my two high schoolers (GASP) be taking this fall? What day in August does the golf team start? Jot down that workshop in September you volunteered to teach. Block out the entire third week in October for school charity dinner preparation. Don’t forget 3 out of state football games. Take family Christmas picture first week of November because remember, your procrastinating ass needs roughly 6 weeks to drive the 3 miles to Walgreens to actually get pictures printed out. Yep, we are already filling up our fall calendars. I wish I were joking. I can barely plan tomorrow night’s dinner and there are psychotic ‘Marthas’ on Pinterest pinning pumpkin pie recipes, and Halloween costumes. Lay off autumn already. Can we please just enjoy spring? I would like to disembark from the 6 month out calendar planning roller coaster. This ride sucks.
Luckily, it will all stop soon enough, and then something just plain awesome will happen. The first week of August, long after summer camps have filled their days, after vacations have been enjoyed, pajama parties endured, matinees watched, lightning bugs collected, red, white, and blue popsicles licked, and after we have all had our fill of long lazy naps taken during afternoon thunderstorms, moms all around the country will get a renewed grip on the school tree branch. They will no longer be desperately dangling from it, they will be eagerly climbing it. With a twinkle in their eye (and the promise of not having to hear “I’m bored” for at least another 4 months,) they will be climbing that school year branch with renewed vigor. They will be climbing that sucker all the way to the store, where they will dance down the aisles buying new school uniforms, crayons, spiral notebooks, and tennis shoes. They will cavort with other moms about just how damn GREAT the tree looks, how they are so #$%&ing glad to be climbing it again, and how they are oh so ready to swing from this branch to that branch. And how maybe, just maybe, this is the year the tree will not overwhelm them. It will not get decayed, thorny, or withered, but will remain green and fruitful, almost forgiving. Maybe this is the year they will hang a swing from it, have a seat, and sway gratefully with the realization that the tree has a season of life. And that one day soon, right before their eyes, all the little branches will have rooted into their own trees, leaving them dangling with both sadness and nostalgia. But also leaving them with the satisfaction that all those exhaustive years of climbing, dangling, and climbing again has ultimately produced one amazing tree house. Well, for me, I am hoping 4 amazing tree houses.