Back to School Blues

I can’t believe I am even about to write this because I can hear all four of my children screaming at each other in the basement, and the dog is barking herself silly right outside the back door and we just came from the grocery store where we spent more than half the week’s grocery budget on mostly popsicles and Pirate Booty and can’t even string together the ingredients to make a single dinner because that’s what happens when you take four kids to the grocery store. BUT. You guys. Here I sit less than a month from the start of school, and I don’t want my kids to go back.

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I don’t want my kids to go back to school. I don’t want these endless summer days to end.

WHO AM I?

Who says that?

I have seen this sentiment expressed on Facebook but I always assumed whoever said it was lying. Or enjoying a really generous Xanax prescription.

This summer, though, I get it. Maybe it’s because my kids are older now—the baby is 3—and can all swim independently and without me in the water every single second. Maybe it’s because the whole bedtime routine boils down to 30 relaxing minutes before I get an entire evening of adult time. Maybe it’s because there are so many of them and they like to hang out together, at least most of the time. Maybe it’s my own impending midlife crisis because I have started to feel my age and to see how quickly my oldest son hit double digits and to understand the cliché about time going so fast. Maybe it’s good friends and patio parties filled with cold summer drinks and kids running barefoot and wild. Movie nights. Sleepovers. Dress up. Play Doh. Enthusiastic rummaging through library shelves. An eight-year-old who loves to make scrambled eggs.

I want them all home everyday surrounded by all the chaos that ensues, not bento boxes and matching-ish socks prepared the night before to stave off the morning rush. Not asking the big kids how their days went and trying to be satisfied with mostly silence. Not school shoes that come home filled with preschool sand or the raging stomach virus that unfailingly knocks us all down in October but ultimately serves as good reminder to wash our hands before flu season. Not book fairs and open houses, PTA politics and parking lot congestion, or morning alarms clocks and homework drudgery.

Even though lots of summer days see me un-showered in yesterday’s makeup because four kids take a lot of time, even though my three year-old throws an unholy fit every morning at swimming lessons–and this is the third and final lesson session of the summer– I will miss these days.  I like pumpkin flavored everything and sweaters and tall boots as much as the next mom, but I will be nostalgic for tan lines and coconut Popsicles and mid-day story time and even “Peppa Pig” blaring all afternoon until next June.

There’s something wonderful about all of them home all day, bored, in pajamas and swimsuits, trolling Target aisles and the grocery store with me, fighting with each other, making Lego castles in the basement, trashing each other’s bedrooms, and traipsing off together to walk the dog. To this day, I still remember the joy of playing with neighbor kids until the streetlights came on and waking up in time to eat Fruity Pebbles with my brother while we watched the “Price Is Right.” I remember being the first kids in the pool when it opened and some of the last to leave at night, bringing my Barbie convertible into the back yard and playing in the rocks next to the air conditioner as the sun went down, running through an impossibly cold sprinkler, and finally learning how to jam a straw into a Capri Sun without poking a hole all the way through it. And that’s exactly what my kids have done all summer—nothing and everything all at once.

I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss them the way they are exactly right this second—small enough to always want to hold my hand and big enough so everyone finally gets to go to the bathroom by themselves, including me. This summer, I am self-aware enough to know that THESE are the happy golden years, and I want to linger in them just a little bit longer.

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But, I mean, if you see me reading a book at Starbucks by myself in September, you can bet I’ll be savoring that moment, too.

2 Responses to Back to School Blues

  1. Jaime August 22, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    Loved, loved your authenticity and honesty throughout the article. It is the overall sum of the messy parts that make it fun. Thanks for the reminder of these and the joy of relating so well to your article. You are a beautiful and fun writer. Linger the last days!

  2. Megan Toney September 7, 2016 at 8:07 am #

    I kind of want to drive to Madison and make Sarah Jedd be my new BFF right now. That isn’t weird, right?

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