Don’t get me wrong, I love Back To School time more than anyone–and I have the student loans to prove it. I get excited when that school supply list comes out and I get to strategize where to get the best deals on spiral notebooks and Ticonderoga #2 pencils. My master organizational skills reach peak performance during the month of August when I ruthlessly go through my children’s clothes, sorting out what still fits and how many new superhero t-shirts I’ll have to buy to replace those beloved Batman pajamas that haven’t covered my son’s belly button for the past six months. I check the school websites regularly (read: obsessively) to find out which teacher my kids will be assigned to, and then I stayed glued to my phone as my mom friends blow up the group texts discussing who is going to be in Room 18 (the prime classroom with reliable A/C and a direct path to the bathrooms) and who got stuck in the modular trailers out behind the handball court.
I’m even pumped up on that first day, taking the obligatory pictures of my kids in their brand new backpacks, waving at Jackson H.’s dad (who is going to hit me up to count Box Tops at the next PTO meeting if I actually engage in conversation with him) and commiserating with Ava’s mom (who is upset that her daughter got assigned to the mean teacher that requires parents to fill out homework logs every night).
And oh my gosh, all that free time to do errands and get my nails done and sneak those too-tight Batman pajamas into the Goodwill bin… It was invigorating and blissful at the same time. Then, after pick-up, I pour over the syllabus and every single flyer that comes home in that first weekly envelope and stock up on my son’s favorite Lunchables (ham and American cheese-bleh!) and fill out those “Getting To Know You” forms as if they’re Ivy League college applications.
To all the parents who were singing hallelujah as they peeled rubber out of that school parking lot, I was right there with you. Until I wasn’t. Because now, the routine sets in and I’m starting to panic that the summer was too short. That my kids are growing up too fast. That I’ll spend my weekdays alone, eating the hated snack-sized bags of white cheddar Cheez-Its abandoned in the back of my pantry, with nothing but old episodes of Teen Titans Go on the DVR to keep me company. (Disclaimer: I know limited time flavor Cheez-Its and cartoons sound pathetic but it’s either that or drink wine while I watch Real Housewives. And, let’s face it, Vicki Gunvalson isn’t going to come bail me out of jail if I get popped for a DUI while on carpool duty.)
So instead of working on my next book, I’m sitting here missing my kiddos and wishing we still had one more week to go to the beach, to hang out at the pool with friends, to eat dripping ice cream cones in the hot sun while wearing our damp bathing suits. And I’m circling June 8 on my calendar, writing in the brightest red pen I can find, “BACK TO SUMMER!”