A Mom’s Back-to-School Lament

The author's family frolicking in the waves during a recent vacation in Carmel, California.

As this past Labor Day weekend came to a close, I was sad. Sad that summer is unofficially over.

I love summer. For me, it’s the season of spending lots of time with my precious children. I love the warm days spent at the beach watching my son and daughter play in the sand and surf. I love watching their happy faces pointed to the sun and their squeals of delight as they jump over the ocean waves. I really love waking up late and not having to rush to drop them off at school. I love taking them to museums, zoos, aquariums, movies, parks, and going on family trips. This year it was China. I don’t tire of being with them one bit.

As my children get older, and I get older too, I find that I’m treasuring the summer days more than ever. I hear stories from my mom friends with teenaged children. They wistfully sigh when they explain their kids want to spend their free summer time with their friends, not with their parents. When I look back on my summer days as a teenager, I admit that’s where I wanted to be as well — hanging out with my friends and talking about boys, clothes, and music. Hanging with my mom all day at the beach at age 15? Are you kidding me?

With that in mind, I revel in this stage of life that I’m in right now; my children needing me, wanting to be around me and having fun with me. They still want to hold my hand when we walk. There’s nothing I love more than being with them, and my husband too. Summer is the season where it feels like this special time with my children is uninterrupted by homework, sports practice, chess tournaments, piano, and all the other activities that consume us during the school year between September and early June.

Now that we’re in September, and school has begun, the symptoms of the malady that hits every year around this time is at a peak. The sadness, the lack of motivation, the tears… no, it’s not my children’s reaction about going back to school, it’s me! The downward spiral that begins around mid-August when I’m painfully reminded that school will soon resume, by retailers hawking their school supplies and clothes sales. The temperature is still hovering around 100 degrees and I’m seeing commercials with kids wearing wool tights and sweaters. Why? Why do they do this? Of course we know school will start soon and that we have to buy supplies, uniforms, clothes, whatever. Talk about summer buzz kill.

Okay, so now that my children are back in school, I’m realizing that I must get over it, and get back on track — being the organized, together kind of mom I’ve aspired to be and think I am most of the time.

When my husband and I dropped them off on that first day back in school, I brought my camera and took our annual photo of them ready to start another year. When I got home to our quiet house, I put the camera in playback mode to look at my children’s faces because I missed them (I know, it’s a bit much), and I was reminded by their smiles of how excited they were to get back to school, to meet their new teachers, see their friends, and learn. They love school. I do feel very lucky about that, knowing not all kids do.

So that helps. Knowing they’re happy is a first great step to getting out of the back-to school-blues. I’ve made a list of other things to do to help me get over it. Maybe this will help you too, if you’re like me. (I know we’re probably in the minority, at least based on Facebook friends comments from gleeful parents who are thrilled to have 7 hours to themselves again)

Immediate To-Do List for Moms with Back-to-School-Blues:

  • Make doctor’s appointments for me! (Yearly physicals, dental visits, eye exams) A healthy mom is a good mom.
  • Continue pursuing personal goals (I am finishing up my master’s degree, and also studying for the real estate exam)
  • Organize around the house (photo and video album projects, closets, etc.)
  • Get involved with the community (I sit on a couple of boards) and volunteer at school (great for seeing my children more and helping at the same time)
  • Get together lunches with girlfriends (commiserating with other moms is awesome)
  • Workout (no coincidence this is last on the list, but at least it’s on there)

Anything else? Well, for now, that seems like a good start. One good start (for my children) deserves another (for me)! ♥