I swore this year’s back-to-school would be different.
I have three kids—one in high school, one in middle school, and one starting kindergarten, so I’ve done this a few times. I thought I would cry dropping off my last baby girl to kindergarten, but alas, no tears were to be had. Instead, I was full of frustration and exasperation.
I imagined the day so clearly, and it was going to be perfect. Belle (a freshman), Torin (7th grade), and Faith (in kindergarten) would wake up early with plenty of time to eat a healthy breakfast, brush their teeth, pack a well-balanced lunch, and even pray as a family for a great school year. They would be wearing the perfect outfits, so the first day of school picture would be IG worthy. Heck, I even made signs for the first time this year including one for my husband who was going to be wearing slippers and a robe since he retired earlier this month. It was going to be the best IG picture ever!
The morning started great. I woke up early, took a shower, got ready for work, and then noticed no one else was up. Ummm, not good. Very gently, I woke each child with a hug and kiss and whispered, “I love you” and “good morning.” Just kidding. I very loudly told them to get out of bed. I did, however, make breakfast for everyone. Mom win! The healthy, delicious breakfast I made was frozen waffles for Belle and Torin and a microwaved sausage pancake on a stick for Faith. Still a mom win, right? Kind of? OK, mom fail. With everyone dressed (gym shorts and a T-shirt), teeth brushed, shoes and backpack on, we were ready to walk out the door when I realized no lunches were packed. Crap. I’m not sure what was thrown in their lunch boxes, but I’m pretty sure it was edible.
We rolled out the door with only 8 minutes to get Faith into her kindergarten classroom and even though we were running a little late, I still made them pose for a picture because damn it, I want the first day back-to-school picture. Begrudgingly they obliged, and three of the four smiled. Not bad. Though due to lack of time, the slippers and robe idea was cut. As we were driving to school, frustration started seeping in and then turned to full-blown rage as we got stuck in traffic. The family prayer turned into a desperate plea to God to move all the freaking cars out of the way.
I know this doesn’t come as a shock, but Faith was late getting to her very first day of school and bonus points for me—she was the last one to arrive in her classroom. So instead of the cute picture at her desk, she got a shove in the door, pat on the butt, and a quick “love you, bye.”
With one child down, and only two left to go, I thought surely since Belle and Torin’s school starts later, there is absolutely no reason not to be on time. This was the point when Torin notified me he forgot his lunch at home. I was impressed that the streaming cuss words in my head did not come out of my mouth, but I did tell him that sucks and maybe next time he’ll remember. So, he got dropped off without his lunch bag and no money on his lunch account for the cafeteria food. Good luck, buddy! But on the bright side, he wasn’t late for school. Don’t worry—he had lunch. My hubby rescued him and dropped it off later.
No matter how much I planned and how much I prayed, the school year didn’t start perfectly. I can blame my kids and even my husband. Oh, wait, I did blame him and then yelled at him to get his butt out of the bathroom so he could help me make lunches—after he washed his hands, of course.
Or I can be grateful, which I know sounds counterintuitive. But lately, God is reminding me to enjoy every second of these imperfect moments because all too soon they will be gone.
It’s mind-boggling to me I only have four more years with Belle before she graduates high school and six years with Torin. I still remember dropping them off on their first day of kindergarten and you know what, it wasn’t perfect then either. And whoever said it should be in the first place?
It got me thinking. If the time we’re all under one roof is limited, then what should I be focused on with them? A perfect morning? How great my IG posts are? No. None of that matters. It’s pathetically only surface deep.
As a mom, I should be focused on their character as a person and the strength of our relationship. That should be my priority. Could we be more organized? Sure. But my children need to see me live and how I bounce back from my worst days so they can do the same. They need to see me overcome anger and frustration and turn it into joy and gratefulness. They need to see me be able to laugh at myself when everything around seems to be going wrong. That is what matters. And when I remember that, I can’t help but think, what an honor it is to get to raise kids at all. My character is being formed in the process as much as I hope I’m forming theirs.
I can focus all my happiness in trying to create this perfect moment I have conjured in my head for their first day of school. Or I can be present with my children and enjoy the craziness that is our lives. It’s not social media perfect but it more than perfect enough for us.