Let’s Schmooze!
Like Me, Pretty Please!
Subscribe to the Tribe!

Enter your e-mail address to get Mishegas of Motherhood in your Inbox:


Back to School Time Signals New Chapter

The older I get, the more I feel that life is on fast forward, and the pause button on the reality remote control doesn’t work. For example, how can it be back to school time already when I barely have tan lines? Even though summer is not officially over, it sure feels like it when bags of Halloween candy corn hoard the store shelves that are still scattered with rejected spiral notebooks and pocket folders.

This school year is a particularly sentimental one. It’s hard to believe that Jack is in ninth grade and starting his first year of high school. It seems like only yesterday when I slipped an orange Scooby Doo backpack over his shoulders and sent him off to preschool with a tear in my eye. And now he is enrolled in a drafting class with fellow classmates who have visible facial hair. It’s scary.

In many ways, I’m a new high schooler all over again trying to find my own way. After the first parent orientation, I eagerly signed up for as many volunteer opportunities as possible, reminding myself of a classic episode of The Brady Bunch when the naïve, overly ambitious Marsha Brady joined every club on her first day at Westdale High. I want to be involved in my son’s school and get to know his friends and other moms. So far, this week alone I’m scheduled to sell sweatshirts in the school store, decorate the gym for the freshman dance, take pictures at the pep assembly for the yearbook committee, direct traffic in the parking lot, and scoop mashed potatoes in the cafeteria at lunchtime if the kitchen staff is short handed. And I will do all this and much more while I proudly wear my new wardrobe that has been gradually transformed into my son’s school colors—black and gold.

I also encourage Jack to be active in school and meet new people. I expect him to pull straight A’s while he participates in sports, freshman advisory group, student council, Ultimate Frisbee club, animal welfare alliance, Amnesty International, and marching band even though he doesn’t know how to play an instrument.

Even my daughter Sari, now a fifth grader, embarks on a new journey as she enters her last year of elementary school. It hit me when I realized that colored markers were no longer on her school supply list. I bought a fresh pack of crayons anyway in case she gets the urge to color at home. She is growing up so fast and is almost as tall as I am. What happened to my little girl? At recess she and her friends don’t run around like they used to because they don’t want to sweat before lunch.

Because time slips away so quickly and my children are transforming into young adults before my nearsighted eyes, I try to preserve every milestone in their lives. On the first day of school, for example, I always take their picture in front of the Chinese maple tree in the front yard. They don’t argue with me anymore about it. They simply smile for the camera, and click, it’s done.

On the first day of school this year Sari wore her hair in a side ponytail, and her outfit was color coordinated right down to the yellow tennis shoes. Jack’s cargo shorts were oversized and wrinkly, as usual, and I didn’t even notice that his blue t-shirt was inside out until he actually left for school. (I hope his reversible attire becomes a new style).

Most families have a first day of school tradition. Every year I watch my neighbor chase the big yellow bus down the street with a video camera. Not only that—this mom follows the bus all the way to school and keeps the camera rolling as her children step off the Laidlaw vehicle, walk into their classrooms, and wave goodbye on command. If I tried that with my own they never would speak to me again.

So with the kids back in school, I settle into my routine. It feels good to have some time for myself, then again, time slips away so quickly.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Drop me a note at ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.