Blogging · Life with Kids

Back-to-School – For the Less-Than-Perfect

Recently I wrote about how lousy it makes me feel when I read about all the ways other mothers are managing to feed their children absolutely nothing but organic, homemade, raw, freshly sprouted, GMO free, free-range, amazingly delicious, healthy food.  Seriously, it’s exhausting.  Well, now it’s back-to-school time and I am faced with the same kind of Pinterest-induced guilt.

For starters, there’s the Back-to-School Party.

Seriously? We are not having a party.  The week before school starts my children are practically wearing sack cloth and ashes.  We distract.  We indulge.  We don’t celebrate.  We are in mourning.

There’s Back-to-School redecorating.  Does making them make their beds count?  I mean, we spend a small fortune on backpacks, note books, pens, markers, clothes, and Kleenex.  Who has extra money to redecorate?

For the child studying to be the next Martha Stewart
For the child studying to be the next Martha Stewart

There’s back-to-school menu planning for the foodiest of foodie parents.

Lemon-Poppy-Seed-Strawberry-Jam-Filled-Muffins

That’ll be two dozen lemon poppy seed jam-filled muffins coming right up!  OR, and I’m just throwing this out there, cereal.  

I found back-to-school decorations.

Neat-oh
Neat-oh

Okay, actually, these are a pretty cool idea because we can never ever find a pencil.  Seven years of homeschooling and five years in public school, and I’ve yet to be able to get my hands on a sharpened pencil when we need one.  

My personal favorite is  back-to-school fashion – for the aspiring Beverly Hills call girl.  Seriously, this was in a back-to-school ad – along with some metal-studded booty shorts.  Classy.

They have got to be kidding!
They have got to be kidding!

And finally the back-to-school teacher gift ideas.

Hmmmm?
Hmmmm?

Is that seriously deodorant in that gift basket?  I’m pretty sure my kids’ teacher will just want booze.

I know I am being cynical, making fun of all these truly cute ideas,  but the truth is, I really would like to be one of those moms.   I wish that today, on the first day of school, all of my children had dawned adorable new outfits and posed in front of an apple tree with hand-held chalkboards upon which they had written their names and grades.   I wish they had awakened to jam-filled muffins and eaten them at a back-to-school themed table where each place was set with a little back-to-school present.  I wish I had put sweet notes of love and encouragement in their lunch boxes.  Heck, I wish I had made them lunch.  I mock these got-it-all-together Pinterest moms, but I really wish I could be one of them.  I really wish I could do all that stuff.   Well, except the high fashion mini-dress for my tweenager.  I definitely just want to make fun of that.

Oh wait!  Charming Hal did manage to snap a picture of three out of four of them. ..

Oh Sheesh!  Is that what they wore?
Oh Sheesh! Is that what they wore?

After getting some feedback about this post, I started wondering why we moms feel so much pressure to have the perfect first day of school…

 Of course there’s our social media-saturated world where we have  daily access to ideas we never wanted to have – like literary themed lunches and cute homemade personalized pencil toppers But I think it’s more than that, at least for me.  For me, I think I want to have a perfect back-to-school,  so that I will have hope that THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT.  This year I will have breakfast ready every day and never have to yell, “Just slap some peanut butter on a tortilla and get in the car!”  as we leave for school.  This year I won’t be frantically searching for clean socks.  I won’t pack a lunch box with ham and cheese in a hot dog bun and a side of goldfish crackers.  This year I won’t ask my fourteen year old daughter to sign the little kids’ permission slips, grade cards, and book logs, in the car on the way to school.  And I will never ask her to lick her hand and smooth down her little brother’s hair as we whip into the school parking lot.  This year I won’t find a two week old sandwiches in anyone’s backpack or get an email from the cafeteria lady that they are out of lunch money AGAIN.  This year will be different

A first day of school is a big deal – to them and to me.  It’s a lot of pressure, social media or not. Maybe this year will be different.  Maybe.  But my friend Darla, put it perfectly, “Do they feel loved?  If I can answer yes, that’s all that matters.”  Well, said, Darla.  I’ll be praying for a school year of less chaos and more love for all of us.   

 Linked at

Homemade Mondays

And at The Farm Hop

The Chicken Chick Blog Hop

10 thoughts on “Back-to-School – For the Less-Than-Perfect

  1. During the school year, my goal is one decent meal a day. Three squares is way to lofty of a goal. Teacher’s gifts? For what? Don’t get me wrong. I greatly appreciate my children’s teachers, but with all the other expenses of the new school year, there are NO GIFTS during the months of August or September. If it is your birthday, you might get a card and it probably will be home made. Back to School Fashion? Whatever is in your closet from last year!!! Okay, maybe if your pants are now above your ankles, I might spring for a new pair.
    if your shoes have lost their soles, there are some great fashion duck tapes out there! A new wardrobe isn’t necessary, especially a Gucci purchase as shown in the pic.

    And that’s all I have to say about that! Happy New School Year!

  2. I cook two squares a day. Breakfast, I confess, would likely be a Pop Tart, but that would be punishing his teacher. If the man cub doesn’t get a high protein breakfast he would be a discipline problem. I experimented in Kindergarten, after reading an article in a magazine at church.

    But, eggs, bacon bits, and a bit of cheese make a yummy omelet that fits the bill. Quick and easy. Of course, I only have one cub to feed, I am sure that makes a difference. I suspect the chaos is multiplied exponentially with each additional child.

    1. My problem this year with back-to-school was that I had tunnel vision. I was so set on having enough food prepared (to reduce my stress level) that I cooked and cooked, but forgot to do laundry. I guess having more kids makes it more difficult, but not really. It’s no harder to do scrambled eggs for four or five than it is for one or two. I hope Man Cub has a great school year!

  3. I don’t want to be that kind of Mom. There is too much stress in it; expectations that this is how/what I should be; and I suppose that is why I have not gotten into Pinterest with the zeal of most. Why do I want to add to my anxiety level? Lately, I am finding FB enough of a stress trigger. I am NOT a morning person and being a “woman of a certain age” is certainly not helping so my kids have to be self motivated to get themselves moving. Maybe when I get past that “woman of a certain age” I will have the energy to be that kind of Mom. My kids are comfortably dressed for a day of school, fed, & loved.

    1. I hear ya about being a “woman of a certain age.” And we mustn’t underestimate the importance of letting them develop a few skills. Making one’s own breakfast is a great skill.

  4. Oh, the pressure to compete and succeed! Sometimes we just have to sit back and breathe and put it all in perspective. Do our children know they are loved? If we can answer “yes” then that’s all that matters. But, the pressure! Oh, the pressure!! Feeling you on that! I’m sure our kids feel it too!

  5. If your kids’ teachers are anything like my husband (a 5th-grade teacher), they will be infinitely more grateful if the KIDS possess the new deodorant. Particularly after they come in from afternoon recess.

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