Is the End of School Year the End of Your Sanity?Samantha Ettus
The end of school year is like the World Series of working momming. Teacher gifts and notes, class party supplies, camp signups, end of year artwork (what to do with it all!), those dreadful half days creating new childcare nightmares; it never seems to end. And that doesn’t even touch upon the emotion of it. For me these are associated with end of first grade tears, end of pre-school tears, and getting my daughter ready for her first week of sleep away camp. The parenting responsibilities all seem to coalesce into a two week period that makes me want to explode with emotion at all times.
Yesterday alone I went from euphoria to tears in an hour. This was the morning:
- I woke up at 5:45am to finish wrapping teacher gifts and writing each a personal note.
A sigh of relief and a sense of accomplishment.
- Daughter out the door in her special color coordinated field day outfit (I hope she is right about this being free dress day), teacher gifts loaded in car. We are late to pick up Carpool Kid for the last full day of school. Carpool Kid enters car in uniform and she and my daughter debate the whole way to school who is right free dress versus uniform. I am already feeling sorry in advance for me or the other mom one of us got it wrong. We get to school. The other mom had it wrong on this one. I feel sick for her. Her daughter is disappointed. Before we leave the car I give an Oscar worthy speech about how hard we try as moms and that we often get it wrong no matter how hard we try. I am faced with blank stares.
- I drop off all of the teacher gifts and with each one I become lighter. I don’t know what I expected that the classrooms wouldn’t be where they always were? Somehow having them off my hands makes me feel like I could tackle Mount Kilimanjaro next.
- I race back to town to pre-school parent-teacher conferences. For the final conference of the school year they have asked us to bring our kids. Great in the case of our five-year-old. Torture in the case of our 2.5 year old.
- Two-year-old conference is first. He has mastered scribble scrabble and likes to be read to a lot. We are told he is very good at spotting details like a tiny small rabbit on a page in a book. The teachers then turn the pages of his end of year book. Photos of him and friends, his artwork and two photos of him with DAD. None with me. Yes I am a working mom, but I am the class mom! Yet I have no photos in this book. I act like I am two years old and “casually” mention that I am nowhere to be found with a fake laugh. But no one is laughing.
- Now that I have f-cked up my two year old conference I feel enormous pressure to make the five-year-old conference a smashing success. Gratefully yet mysteriously, two-year-old stays silent while we hear about five-year-old’s amazing art and helpful and inquisitive nature. We are bursting with pride and there are three photos of me in her book. None of dad. I feel silly for worrying about it before and I am so happy that I burst into tears and hug both teachers thanking them for how awesome they are. And then one teacher cries too. This makes me feel half sane.
A ball of emotion.
- I run home to grab my computer and pack both kids up for their days one is going on a swim play date with a friend and the other needs his sand toys for a day at the park with his sitter. I am now running late.
- I rush to a meeting with my husband on a company we are working on and I am shaken. His failure to notice that I am hanging by a thread leaves him stunned when I bite his head off at every turn. He is adding more to my to do list and I am already overloaded.
- Run to work to get sh*t done. It is only noon. A full day lies ahead.
The end of school year is like this. The days are endless and the to-do list is unending but it is also a time of celebration and milestones. The combination is overwhelming but it is not the time to make big life decisions. Don’t quit your job, abandon your husband or take it out on your kids. Be present for the milestones and laugh at yourself. We are all in it together.