It happens every year. The week before school starts, slight depression and bluesy feelings set in. I thought about calling this post “back to school blues”, but that wouldn’t be terribly authentic – I love routine and as a mom who has not worked for pay in a long, long time, I enjoy the quiet and flexible time during school days to pursue a variety of responsibilities and interests. Going to the grocery store alone is my preference. A more orderly house feels good and even folding laundry in silence is often a treat. So, what am I actually feeling?
It seems that summer is a time to relax and more thoroughly enjoy my children. This particular summer started off with some very challenging days, but it quickly moved into a great mix of day camps, chilling and chatting at the neighborhood pool, periodic breaks leaving the girls with a trusted babysitter and some really fun family and vacation time. When we addressed and pursued a rhythm of activity and downtime that works best for our family, it turned into a wonderful oasis between more hectic and stressful school days.
Truthfully, one of the biggest mental hurdles when thinking of school starting up is making lunches. What is so terribly distasteful about having to think up, shop for and pack up those little containers?? This disdain has led to an inner dialogue – “is it time to have the girls start making their own lunches?”, “how truly awful and unhealthy are those school lunches anyway?”, and how can we be creative in handling this little thing that so often turns into a big thing around our house. Our oldest son swears that I made him pack his own lunch starting in around the 2nd grade….
So, on these last few days of summer as we pack up all those fresh new supplies into the backpack, I look forward to a little more order around the house, accomplishing a few projects that have been on the to-do list for years, and basking in the solitude of an empty house. But I will miss serving breakfast at 9 or 10, showering at noon, putting the “hurry up, we are going to be late” phrase to rest, afternoons and evenings that involve no homework and most of all, eating lunch all together around the table.
PS Writing this led to a very fruitful conversation with my girls. We reached a compromise. Based on our schedules, Monday and Wednesday, I will pack the lunches. Tuesday and Thursday, it is their turn. On Friday, we’ll spring for the unhealthy school lunch. After this negotiation, our older daughter said to me, “why are you all about lunches, Mom?”. I shared with her that it was funny to say, but it was one of my bigger stresses about school starting. She looked at me with great sincerity and said, “Really? I thought it would be about our education or something like that”. Good point.