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Celebrate Another High Holiday: Back to School

For many parents, the highest of high holidays occurs around the end of August when their kids go back to school. For me, this time of year truly kicks off my Days of Awe when I practice the three R’s: reflect, repent, and revise.

First, I reflect on the highlights of summer, including weekends at the Lake with grandma and grandpa and riding in the giant tube. Second, I ask forgiveness for not exercising enough, unless floating on a raft counts. Third, I set personal goals for the new school year ahead, such as building my own website.

Let’s face it. No matter how exciting our summer vacations, most moms are ready for a break from their kids by now. I can’t possibly plan another fun thing that doesn’t involve a trip to the ATM machine first. And the timing for school to start is perfect because with every passing day, I think my sixth-grade son Jack forgets how to spell another word. Besides, my tube of sunscreen is almost empty, so why not get into the mode of homework, lunch bags, and carpool lines?

This year, however, evokes more anxiety for me than usual because my oldest child starts middle school. My biggest concern, other than how to train a night owl to wake up at the crack of dawn, is how can one kid remember so many numbers in a single day? Somehow Jack has already memorized the combination for his hallway locker, which I think requires the skill of Hoodini to crack open. To recall the locker combination, Jack associates the numbers with baseball players and then gives the locker a quick punch. Moreover, he has to keep straight another code for gym class, a pin number if he wants to eat lunch, and still more numbers if he wants to make his way home on the bus. I would never survive middle school because I can barely remember my garage keypad numbers. Even when I just have to press a button, I still forget to turn off my windshield wipers once I’m inside the garage.

Just as Jack enters a new stage in school, I begin a new phase of parenthood. This momentous event didn’t really hit me until I shopped for items on his school supply list that didn’t include crayons, but a scientific calculator instead. I spent hours in the crowded aisle trying to figure out the colors and widths on the pocket binders, and I’m still not convinced I got it right. Plus, I didn’t realize until I got home that I bought the college-lined instead of wide-lined spiral notebooks—and I thought I saved a few pennies with the value dozen pack. Despite apologies for my ignorance, I told Jack that he had to squeeze his cursive letters in between the narrow lines anyway because I’m too afraid to brave the mob of moms in the discount store again. Ever since a clearly stressed-out woman snatched hole reinforcers from my shopping cart, I refuse to step foot into Target anytime soon unless we are clearly out of toilet paper.

So as my kids get used to their new routines, so shall I. In fact, I aim to write my “Mishegas of Motherhood” column every week again. That means I have my homework cut out for me, too.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.