Back to school. There is no neutral feeling about those words to kids or parents. It stirs up a goulash of emotions; excitement, nervousness, relief, stress, happiness, sadness. And it rolls around this time of year like it or not.
There's the run up to the first day of school that includes the preparatory shopping. Depending on the age of your children (and the size of your budget) this can be a fun experience or it can be a nightmare. Finding just the right lunch container, school supplies, clothes, backpack, shoes, etc. is a challenge no matter how you slice it. Just coming to an agreement on said items for the price you are willing to pay can be akin to hammering out a peace accord agreement. And like accord talks, the process usually takes several days and trips to secure everything needed thankfully leading to détente.
Back to school represents different relief to working parents vs stay at homers. I've done it both ways. For the working parent back to school signifies a return to a more regular, less complicated schedule. If you haven't experienced the brain teaser that figuring out daycare and activities for children for 8-10 weeks presents, consider yourself lucky. And then there's the cost. Exorbitant. Plus the whole thing is a house of cards if something doesn't go EXACTLY as planned. I remember hanging on by my fingernails looking forward to the lesser chaos that having the kids back in school would bring.
Stay at home parents are relieved that their children are headed back to school because everyone, frankly, is sick of each other. The limit on entertaining (nearly as expensive as daycare) has been reached and the words "I'm bored" resound throughout the house. It's time for everyone to go their separate ways again, even if just for 7 hours a day.
Back to school time is however, bittersweet. Facebook chatter among parents starts prior to the first day with the flare signal, "One more week until school starts." This is met with responses like, "Whoo Hoo," "Mothers everywhere are doin' the happy dance," and my personal favorite, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." Then the reality sets in...it's the end of the lazy days of summer. It's back to alarm clocks, hurried mornings, stress about the whereabouts of the backpack, lunch, gym clothes, etc. And let's not leave out the traffic and the monitoring of the homework (UGH!).
But this is the beautiful time of raising our children. And as we are painfully aware, it will go by in a minute. We'll blink and they will be off to college. So here's to being grateful for the arrival of another school year. Another chance to marvel at the growth and experiences our kiddos will take us through this year. Bon Voyage!