Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back To School Blues

As I was just about to begin typing this, my middle daughter, who will soon be starting 6th grade, came into the room carrying a pencil case and announced, "Look mom! I've created an emergency kit to keep in my locker at school! It has lotion, band aids, ponytail ties, hand sanitizer, and tissues." 

Obviously, she is ready to go back to school.

Many parents are counting down the seconds until they can send their kids back to the classroom, too. They are looking forward to some alone time or returning to a normal work schedule without worrying about baby-sitters. They are tired of hearing "I'm bored!" a hundred times a day and feeling like cruise ship entertainment directors -without, of course, the perks of living on a cruise ship!

Me? Not so much. 

My daughter is ready. Other parents are ready. I'm not ready. 

I have a bad case of the Back to School Blues because I don't want summer to end. (Although it already kind of did when my oldest daughter started school on August 3rd!!!)

While I'm not a fan of the summer heat, I am a fan of sleeping in and staying up late(ish). I'm a fan of afternoons in the pool and my husband grilling something for supper. I'm a fan of beaches, and mountains, and new places to visit. I'm a fan of reading books because I actually have time and not driving my minivan anywhere at all some days. I'm a fan of less stress and more fun and relaxing. 

I don't want to go back to school.

I don't want to go back to early morning wake-ups and packing lunches. I don't want to go back to homework battles and crazy schedules. I don't want to go back to car pool lines and PTA pleas for help or money. I don't want to go back to stress and chaos.  

I may be one of the few, but I am not ready for back to school.

I cannot stop it, though. My oldest has already gone back and my two youngest have less than two weeks left. My Facebook feed is littered with "First Day of School" pictures and stores are bursting with back to school sales. We've even been back to school shopping ourselves and, materially speaking, we're all ready. 

Mentally, though, I'm not ready. 

When I was a teacher, this time of year was a time of excitement and preparation. Now, as a mom, it feels more like an ending rather than a beginning. 

Maybe that's why I'm feeling so unprepared. Endings. 

This will be my youngest daughter's last year in elementary school (she'll be in the 4th grade, but their school bumps 5th graders up to middle school) and, in 4th grade, they get lockers. It seems my "baby" is not really a baby much at all anymore.

My middle starts 6th grade - traditionally considered the first year of middle school. She's growing, changing, and maturing. I had a talk with her the other day about "girl things," and, oh, I am SO not ready for my crazy, quirky girl to go down that road.

My oldest started high school a couple weeks ago. For the last two weeks, I feel like I barely see her anymore. She spends all day at school and most of the evening in her room doing homework. She only has three more first days left. Then, I will be dropping her off at college instead of in the carpool line. 

The beginning of a new school year equals the bittersweet ending of summer and so much more. I may not be ready, but my girls are. They're ready to take on a new school year. They're ready, in fact, to take on the world. And, ready or not, I'll be right there supporting them, encouraging them, and soaking it all in. 

I have the Back to School Blues because school beginnings also mean endings. @TheGoldenSpoons

I'm linking up with Kristi at Finding Ninee for Finish the Sentence Friday. This week's sentence was "Back to school . ."

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Blessed and Beautiful Mess

This week, Tuesday Ten is focusing on blessings and I was reminded of this post I wrote in January 2015 (hence the reference to coats and backpacks.) I think we are all guilty of getting caught up in the "I want more" pitfalls, so we all need a reminder of our blessings from time to time. This is one of my favorite posts I have written and it is my reminder that, despite the messes and frustrations, I am blessed beyond measure. 


{Originally published on January 14, 2015}

Everywhere I turn, I see a mess.

There is a pile of shoes by the front door, cast off haphazardly the very second my children enter the house. 

There are coats and backpacks strewn about the living room carelessly tossed aside yet again.

There are dishes piled high in the sink taunting me and a dishwasher waiting impatiently to be unloaded.

There are stacks of folded laundry just begging to be put away and heaps more laundry anxiously awaiting a wash.

There is dried toothpaste on the bathroom sinks and wet towels on the floor that have been discarded and forgotten. Ponytails ties, brushes, and other hair "necessities" are strewn across the bathroom counters. 

There are beds left unmade and I try to overlook the crumbs that littler the floor. Our dog drops black and white hair with every step she takes, dust gathers on ceiling fans, and fingerprints are scattered on the windows. I see papers - homework, bills, junk mail - littering almost every table in my house.

I am a person who thrives on order and organization. Sometimes, when I look at these messes, I feel so incredibly exasperated. Over and over, I straighten and scrub. Over and over, the messes reappear almost instantly. Despite my best efforts, I cannot get ahead of the clutter and mayhem. Most days, it drives me crazy. 

If I take a breath and step back for a moment, though, I remember that these messes represent all that is wonderful in my life. In the evening, when all is quiet and I finally sit down to relax, I look around at the chaos that lingers and recall all the mess represents.  

The shoes remind me of the feet that have run and played all day; the feet that carried them to school and safely home again; the feet that used to be so tiny, but now almost match or even surpass my own.

The coats remind me that we are all safe and warm. The backpacks signify how much they have learned and grown as the years have flown by so swiftly. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was teaching them to sing their ABC's?

The dog hair is from a loving, loyal companion who also adds snuggles, comfort, love, and laughter to our lives.  

The dishes and crumbs help me to remember that we are fortunate to have food on our table; that I am lucky to put my children to sleep with full bellies each night when so many parents struggle to meet the most basic needs of their little ones.

The laundry is another symbol of our blessings; a reminder that we are warm and able to provide for their most fundamental requirements; a reminder to be thankful because we have much when many have so little.

I walk in the dirty bathrooms and remember the scent of freshly washed heads when they were little and even now, when they are not so little. I remember when they were so small they had no hair to comb on the bald little baby noggins & I cherish the moments now when they ask me to brush or braid the long locks. 

Every fingerprint is a memory smudged into my heart reminding me how it felt to hold their tiny hands and how it still feels to be wrapped in their embrace.  

The beds are where my sweet angels rest their precious heads each night; where they keep their most prized stuffed animal possessions; where they dream and, sometimes, where they cry; where they begin and end each day.

 If I let them, these messes get under my skin. That's when I know I have lost sight of my blessings. When I am overwhelmed by the clutter and chaos of life, I have to look harder, but, if I try, I can still find them - the love and blessings hidden deep within this marvelous, wonderful, beautiful mess. And, I wouldn't have it any other way.   

This week, Tuesday Ten is teaming up with:
Kristi of Finding Ninee and Finish the Sentence Friday
Yvonne, Vidya, and Michelle of #1000Speaks

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