I’ve easily typed some version of “Hoping it’s a great year!” 200 times over the last few days, with many more finger numbing keystrokes to go yet. Welcome to mid-August social media when you’re part of the Off to College & Under Parenting Set.
We’re all marking the time, as we send our babies (no matter the age, yes, our babies you will always be – thank you, Robert Munsch) into their next year of real-life training.
And we’re reflecting.
Faster than anyone prepared us for (would we have understood if they tried?), nap mats gave way to overpriced backpack minis and matching lunch totes. All the monogrammed things rapidly became consignment sale fodder, taking the Bailey Boys sets with them, after chubby little hands and tiny voices, entirely too adorable to be taken seriously, declared these items “babyish.”
And so it begins, every year a little less innocent than the last, as everyone adjusts into who these little people are becoming. Parental guard rails, malleable guideposts that they are, expand and retract according to our children’s needs, an ever-changing thing.
As moms and dads, we strive to be neither too rigid nor too laissez fare. This is a delicate balancing act, as noble as it is exhausting, especially when we start fielding “I’m sorry, but what?” questions from the younglings way earlier than anticipated.
Weren’t we just writing first grade spelling words on the chalkboard/back door? Do they still believe in Santa? Is there a universal urban dictionary for parental decipherers of the intermediate school dialect?
Maybe we’re the very personification of the Pottery Barn catalog parent we always thought we’d be, unfazed by the competing demands and blessings of also nurturing a loving marriage, growing a successful career, and making sure the household runs on more than “We’re out of toilet paper” or “I thought you did the laundry?”
That’s not even close to being me. Dare I say it, I don’t think it’s even close to most people’s reality (school year or any other day of the year).
Sure, I have days when I absolutely kill it, meaning everyone gets a good night’s sleep (this includes the fur children, who sometimes relent on their preference for a dawn patrol potty break, which in actuality is not a potty break at all, but an excuse to damn near decapitate the skinny, daredevil backyard squirrels who tempt fate daily).
These are the days when alarm clocks go off on time, when feet hit the floor instead of falling back into bed for what is never “just a few more minutes”, and when even the notoriously picky eater in my house will muscle down a few bites of egg.
For the record, this protein is usually regarded (as is most any non-factory food I try to peddle into his meals with both stealth and style – think drug dealer meets Ina Garten) with the kind of contempt one would normally reserve for a public nose picker.
On that note, if you see me any weekday morning with an extra spring in my step, I can assure you it won’t be the coffee. It will mean Operation: Protein Dammit! has achieved success. Related – currently accepting entries for Most Satiating Breakfast Recipes to Please Impossible Palates.
The particulars of what frays your days will likely look different than mine, but one thing is for certain – we’re all going to experience them.
The “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This” days.
The Can’t Remember if Anybody Fed the Dog days.
The Not Sure if I Applied Deodorant But Something Sweaty This Way Comes days (not to be confused with the I Definitely Applied Deodorant But Hot Flashes are a B*&%# days).
Ready or not, here we are once more.
Know that when I wish you, and your babies too, whether they are still under your roof or safely ensconced in their too cute dorm rooms off at college, a wonderful year, these are all the things that are on my mind. It’s not just some generic wish you well.
Including the preschool years, I’ve done this dog and pony show enough times to know how stressful and overwhelming and downright defeating it can sometimes feel.
For those moments, when mornings are full of seemingly preventable chaos (let’s all lay out our clothes the night before, for real, buy the stuff for dress up days on the weekend instead of frantically texting friends at the last minute because Party City is closed and somebody waited til the last minute, and for Pete’s sake always, always, always know where our shoes are), for the commutes when traffic is bad and tempers are worse, and for all the in-between times when you feel like you’re pulling a mediocre C- in every measurable area of your life, remember this.
We don’t run out of chances to get any of this right. Neither do our babies. That’s the goodness of God.
And it’s in His name that I pray for your mama and daddy hearts…for there to be peace and harmony in your marriages and in your households…for your kids to feel comforted and settled when homesickness strikes this first year away from home…for the K-12 educators and the kids in their classrooms to live and breathe The Golden Rule… for the kids who have social influence to use it as a force for good…for the kids who are trying to find their place to discover that they do indeed belong, and that they are safe and loved, without condition…for the ones for whom good grades don’t come easy to find the support they need to thrive in academics and self-esteem and confidence about their futures…for safety in every sense of the word…for wise choices being learned after foolish mistakes are made…for personal growth and a true understanding of what real self-worth is all about…and for the development of Godly character.