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

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


Last 1st Day of School


It’s almost Labor Day, and I’ve procrastinated to write this back-to-school blog. Maybe because my youngest is a high school senior and in 300-something days I will be an empty nester. (Yes, I obsess about it). For the last 12 years, I have taken my daughter’s first day of school photo in the front yard, with her holding our toy poodle Luci, next to the Chinese maple tree, which has grown from her shoulders to as tall as the two-story gutter.

After all these years, Sari knows it’s a family tradition to take her and her older brother’s annual back-to-school photo. She doesn’t complain too much anymore, except when she has to squint because the morning sun blinds her eyes. This year’s photo on the first day of school was particularly sentimental for me. Because on the next first day of school, she will be a freshman navigating her way through a big university campus and hopefully ecstatic that she got into the sorority she wanted.

As many of us moms do, I posted her back-to-school photo right away on Facebook. I wrote a cute little caption:  “Last 1st day of school for Sari, who just drove herself to high school. Excuse me while Luci and I crawl back into bed and tend to our almost empty nest.” Sari looked so grown up and pretty in her white capri jeans, blue tank top, a Kendra Scott pendant around her neck, and a dab of lip gloss. Her sun-streaked hair was straightened, and the dimple on her face is exactly the same since she posed with her pink Hello Kitty backpack on the first day of kindergarten.

After she pulled out of the driveway to cross the busy intersection, I spent the next few hours on the computer scrolling through photos of my friend’s children on their first day of school. Guess I had nothing better to do other than cuddle with Luci and listen to the quietness that will soon consume my house. Some of the photos on the Internet showed siblings holding up their fingers or cardboard signs to indicate what grade they were in. Awww, that’s so sweet. I hit the red heart emoji over and over again. Meanwhile,  I continued to get more likes on Sari’s photo and lots of virtual hugs.

So imagine my shock when I got a phone call—not even a text—from Sari later that afternoon at school. I panicked because she never calls me during the day unless it’s something really important, like “the lunch lady won’t let me eat again because you forgot to put money in my account.” Turns out Sari wanted me to take her photo off social media, like NOW, because she said she looks awful. I was speechless. First of all, I’m very sensitive about what I publish about my family and always have been since I started writing a parenting column “Mishegas of Motherhood” when they were ages 7 and 12. I am diligent not to embarrass them or “over share” their personal lives, and I respect their privacy, which can be a slippery slope as a mom blogger.  My 17-year-old daughter was half laughing and half crying over the phone when she told me that even her friends saw her picture and thought she looked terrible. What?! First of all, who are these mean friends, why are they trying to hurt your feelings, and why are they stalking my facebook page? I honestly thought the picture was adorable, even if my cell phone camera is sometimes distorted and blurry. I let her vent some more and then finally interrupted, “That’s ridiculous. I’m not taking your photo down. I think you look adorable. Besides I already got 80 likes.” (Because it’s all about me, right?)

By the time Sari got home from school, she was so upset, to the point of tears, and said her face in the picture looked like she “just got her wisdom teeth taken out.” I felt bad for her, I really did, but I still thought she was being overly dramatic. I promised I would eventually remove the photo when I got around to it, even though people were still leaving endearing comments. But after dinner when my facebook status still had not changed, she was hysterical and went onto my page and deleted the photo herself. We got into a huge screaming fight because she messed with my Facebook account without my permission. This is NOT how I wanted to remember the last first day of high school. To distract me from the real problem, which had to do more with my own insecurity than her’s, I started to overthink things.

She has always been a confident person, not worrying what other people think, what if she now has low self esteem?

What if she is developing an eating disorder and thinks she’s fat when she’s actually thin?

What if she’s hanging out with a new group of friends who are bullying her because they are jealous?  

What if she’s stressed out about college applications and whether she should retake the ACT?

What if she’s overwhelmed from too much homework already?

What if she’s arguing with me over petty things to distance herself before she leaves home and gains her independence? 

What if she caught the Zika virus and has a fever that makes her delusional and act this way?

What if she’s already worried about having a date for homecoming?

What if she’s hormonal because she’s on her period?

And finally, what if I’m a terrible mom?

The answer is, probably none of the above, or maybe some of the above, but most likely she was just pissed off. I was determined to resolve this argument before the day was over. I wanted to apologize for upsetting her. I planned to tell her it was never my intention to upset her. I wanted her to hear me say, “I’m sorry.” So, I took a deep breath and knocked on her bedroom door. It was closed and locked as usual. I pounded a little harder on the door, while Luci scratched her nails at the bottom. I could hear the music blaring in her earbuds. I finally rattled the doorknob to get her attention.

Then she opened the door and stood in front of me, with one hand on her hip and the other holding a calculator. She looked a little annoyed and tired from the long first day of school, still dressed in her tennis uniform. Luci wagged her tail and made her way to the pile of papers strewn across the carpet before she plopped on top of an open calculus book.

Our conversation began:

Me: “I’m sorry babe about what happened today when I posted your photo without your permission. I just want you to know that your feelings are more important than my facebook likes.”

Sari: “It’s OK, I forgot about it already. Mom, are you crying?”

Me: “No, I’m not crying. My eyes are watery from my new mascara.”

Sari: “You’re not sad about me leaving for college already, are you?”

Me: “No, of course not. That would be silly.”

Sari: “I’m hungry. Will you come downstairs with me to get a snack?”

Well, “snack” was all Luci needed to hear and high-tailed it off Sari’s notebooks and ran down the steps with us. I made a smoothie with vanilla yogurt, frozen strawberries and bananas, just like we did when Sari was in preschool.

Together, we enjoyed our last late night snack on the 1st day of school. I’m gonna savor every moment of her senior year.

front yard sari and ellie3

This is not on 1st day of school, but Prom 2016 in our front yard.