Today is the last first day of school in America. By the end of the week, most moms will have resigned themselves to the bittersweet rhythms of another school year. On one hand, it’s great to have the children back into a routine. On the other hand, peace often fades as school year demands settle in:
- Chauffeuring and homework.
- Forms, forms, forms.
- Science fairs and concerts.
- Practices and games.
- Volunteering and fundraisers.
I feel this pain like it was yesterday. At the height of child-rearing, I had seven kids in six different schools, including Andrea and Erica attending two universities an hour from home in opposite directions.
Michael was in the marching band (a cult, for real).
Kellye was on the forensics team that journeyed around the state almost weekly.
Sara ran cross country and pretty much had an asthma attack after every race. It was hard for this mama to watch.
Carrie and Cynthia played with each other after school. Thank God! I had enough to do. Not to mention the financial outlay required for college tuition, activity fees, uniforms, lunch, and the agony of finding modest prom dresses!
But if you seriously want to know how I coped, here are three things that framed my thinking:
First, I accepted the fact that parenting is tiring, hard, and annoying in a 100 different ways, and that educational endeavors contribute to that hardness. But I told myself it was better for me to spend hours driving children to wholesome activities than driving to court because they were in trouble. I had an attitude of gratitude.
Second, I refused to be a victim of life’s daily demands. Rather than allow myself to be swept into a tide of chaos, I took charge and tried to have a professional approach to my career as a mom.
- We had a huge family calendar and we met weekly to discuss the schedule.
- I told the children no a lot, especially if they did not plan in advance.
- The children had weekly chores (they started doing laundry at age six).
- I didn’t volunteer and I never felt guilty about it.
- I substitute taught one year, unashamed to be invested and present in the halls my children roamed.
Finally, I prioritized our Christian faith by ensuring the children attended church and served others no matter how tired they were on Sundays. I supported their involvement in Young Life. I admonished them away from drinking, physical intimacy, bullying, and disrespect for teachers.
I’m definitely glad to be past the days of getting kids off to school, but I encourage those of you still in the thick of it to take heart, find your drum, and create your rhythm.
Don’t compare your family with others because it’s a trap that steals your peace.
And every day your children head off to school, rejoice that they are healthy enough to go, and bright enough to expand their horizons, even if it costs you every dime.
I promise, on the other side of the chaos and strain you feel today, there are priceless rewards.
By Spring 2018, all seven of my offspring will have college degrees and my days sending kids off to school will be officially over.