The commercials show jubilant parents skipping down the aisle caressing the Back-to-School supplies as they go. Petulant children trudge behind looking depressed. It’s an office supply store’s dream come true.
I often feel a bit guilty to number myself among those excited parents, thrilled to see September on the top of the calander. I have friends who lament the end of summer days with their beloved children. And I wonder, do I enjoy my children less?
But, I felt this way back in the days of homeschooling, when the end of summer “holiday” meant not less, but more time and interaction with my offspring.
It’s NOT that I don’t like spending time with my kids. Though, in all honesty, every moment of hands on parenting is not blissfull and life affirming. Admittedly, I relish the idea of a quieter house and days where I don’t have to extend my bathroom breaks to protect my solitude-craving soul. But, I miss them too. And I hate not having the inside track on all the goings on. Despite my daily bribes, “you must tell me 3 things about your day before you get an after school snack”, I don’t hear about everything they are doing (or not doing… yes, I’m talking about that spelling homework, C).
I felt this way as a school kid myself. I loved the crisp white pages of an untouched notebook. I loved neatly lining up all of my supplies. I even loved packing that very first bag lunch of the year. What can I say, I’m a total nerd.
It’s NOT that I don’t enjoy the freedom of summer. Lazy mornings, trips to the beach, family holidays, letting Glen cook dinner for a change (sorry honey, I don’t know which button to push on this thing and you are SO good at barbecuing)… Every week brings some new adventures and the kids have time for uninterrupted play (the thing I miss most about homeschooling). This used to be elaborate forts and pretend games, but lately it’s been building sets and designing costumes for their latest movie.
The truth is, I miss normal. I miss routine. I miss predictable. I miss knowing what each day is going to hold. And I know my kids do too, though they claim loudly that the only good thing about it is seeing all their friends. They thrive when things go according to plan. Even my free spirit sleeps better and gets her chores done with minimal drama when things are back to normal.
We line up the pictures on B’s weekly calander and she can see which days are school and when she gets to go horseback riding or have speech therapy or swimming. She knows what happens next and she is so much better behaved. Just like her mom.
So, today as I snap the requisite “first-day-of-school” photo at the front door, it’s not the new backpacks and carefully considered outfits that put that hopeful smile on their faces (and mine). It is a giant sigh of Back-to-Normal relief!
So here’s me, definitely in need of a brand new notebook. It’s unnatural to be this jealous of a 7th grader.