As a stay-at-home mom, the coming of September is like the dawning of the apocalypse.
The sun is fading to black. I can practically smell the grenades: the sharpened pencils and rubber cement that come with the start of school. I can hear the kids screaming: they can’t find their gym shorts, their favorite uniform is at their dad’s, their backpack zipper is broken and they only want to have a playdate with Blair, remember? Not Eva! And where’s that water bottle? Forget locating the summer reading books.
I’m not ready. Yes, I had the entire summer “off.” Summer is the holy grail of a stay-at-home mom’s life.
Summer moments. Sensational.
Camp is easy! Summer activities are a breeze! What’s applying sunscreen on four kids when I could be walking down the street with them being pelted by hail? Summer is when I can exhale, relax, get the proverbial parenting feet up. I can watch the kids play outside without having to do anything.
In the fall, I moonlight as an indoor camp counselor, chauffeur, drama coach, music teacher and logistics manager. Not to mention all the events I’m required to attend when I’m not even with my kids. With four kids in four classes at three schools, I could spend every night at a parent event.
And the forms! Don’t even get me started. I want to tattoo a copy of each kid’s most recent medical form on their foreheads. Emergency contacts? Check. But who can pick up my kid during a school emergency in the event that the 14 people I have on the pick-up list are suddenly unavailable? I don’t care! That would never happen! Just save my kid!
Yes, I know — I chose to have four children. (Kind of.) But still. I didn’t know how much busy work there would be.
School play from 1983. (I'm in the middle.)
I want to go back to parenting 1980s-style. My mom didn’t run around all day going to ballet orientation and art class open houses and science class prep only to then leave us at home at night to go to various class cocktail parties and curriculum nights. No. My mom walked me down to the bus stop on the corner of 68th Street in the mornings, took a safety pin and pinned a play-date note, hand-written on her blue stationary with the red monogram on it, to my uniform jumper. She mimed “Eye - Love - You” through the window.
And then she was free until I got off the bus again in the afternoon. She didn’t spend the entire day at her desk (Computer? What was that?!) filling out Doodle Polls and Google Docs just to coordinate after school activity pick-ups.
She played tennis. She saw friends. She went to Gilda’s aerobics classes on 79th and Third before treating herself to cottage cheese and fruit for lunch. Yes, she fielded a few calls on the rotary phone stationed on the kitchen wall during lunch, the cord pulled all the way over to the table, as she smoked and scribbled a few events into her red leather-bound datebook. But then she moved on with her day. She didn’t need a six-color-coded iCal calendar like I have just to figure out which kid was going where.
And she rarely made mistakes, whereas no matter how elaborate a system I devise, I still end up opening the door in shock to find the chess teacher standing there.
I want to go back to the land of Freezy Freakies gloves, Chocolate Soup bags, Florence Eisemann dresses, bloomers, celery and carrot sticks in a bowl of water in the fridge, Cabbage Patch Kids and Princess Leia lunchboxes. I want to jump into our Chevy Caprice Classic station wagon on the “special seat” (really the armrest in the front row). I want leg warmers and Tre-torns, Haagen Daaz and Madonna.
Madonna! How can Madonna be 60 years old? Just yesterday I was eight years old myself and standing on the corner waiting for the school bus when my dad handed me a freshly printed TIME magazine with Madonna on the cover. My idol!
Come back, Summer! Come back!
Okay. My infantile attempts at regression aren’t getting me anywhere. I can’t go back to the ‘80s. I can’t even go back to July. I have to brave the hit of the September crazies head on. I feel like I’m in one of those warrior movies, riding a horse, feeling pretty good about my little army behind me, until suddenly I crest over a hill and see 8,000 warriors pointing arrows right at me. That is September today for a mom.
So I’m putting up my shield with the family crest on it. I’m screaming “AHHH” and charging right at them. If I’m going to fall, I’m not going to do so without trying. And who knows? Maybe this time, I’ll be victorious like Mel Gibson and somehow, against all odds, conquer my opponents. I’m hoping.
Until then, I’m putting on some “Little House on the Prairie” and “Family Ties” and hoping I can just get to October.
Oh God, October is coming soon. Halloween costumes, anyone?