On the night before the first day of school (in many Southern states we start on the 20th of August this year) I lay in bed awake, recapping on the resolutions I made on the first day of summer vacation.
Back then I had a plan: I was going to teach my kids formal Spanish lessons at home for one hour, every single day. Of course, by the end of summer break, I only managed to use flashcards with my youngest, now 8, one day out of the whole summer!
I was also intent on rewriting a novel I drafted almost two years ago. The reality: I printed it out and stacked it on my desk. Two months and a half later, it´s still in the same place, untouched.
I was determined to make this the summer when I would finally manage to help my kids gradually transition into the school year schedule. But my eldest, 11, was invited by her godparents to visit them in California, and she returned to our home in Florida a couple of days before school. So not only is she not adapted to the new schedule, she’s also jet-lagged. Since she was away, and her dad (my ex-husband) and I live in different counties, we all missed orientation day and did not “meet the teacher.”
As I typed this and multitasked by cuddling with my 8-year-old at (a late) bedtime, my daughter was peeking over my shoulder, also wide-awake, asking me questions about my writing.
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Add to it all that my 11-year-old left her summer projects for the last minute and that I forgot to ask her whether she completed all her summer reading. To top it off she is entering middle school! Flashes of Diary of a Wimpy Kid enter my mind. Will she adapt to using a locker, being around older kids and having eight study periods every day and avoid hanging out with the wrong crowd? Will she succumb to peer pressure? Will she be bullied? Will she get the “cheese-touch?”
I guess at this point the more important question really is: will I adapt to having a middle-schooler?
Early in the summer I had also planned to purchase school supplies way ahead of time, during tax-free sales week if possible, to get the best deals and avoid last-minute stress. In the end I found myself anxiously running around an office supply store two days before school with three long lists of items that I wonder whether the kids will ever get around to using. Thank goodness for specially trained salespeople who stepped in to help and practically did the shopping for me. All I had to do was foot the bill, which added up to almost a couple hundred dollars for three kids.
First I broke out in a sweat just looking at the grand total. Then I had a flashback and immediately felt grateful as I handed over my debit card. Only a few years ago, right around this time, I was a broke single mom—after my divorce and during the recession. The elementary school staff provided my kids with everything they needed, to include new shoes, socks and even underwear! So I figured that if this year I bought a surplus of supplies, hopefully they will go to a family that cannot provide for their own kids.
Summer break has been one long juggling act as a work-at-home mom. I recall a day when we took our kids to a children’s science museum and I had to bring along my laptop to sneak in work here and there throughout the day. But, my work as an editor and writer—work I love—is how we could afford the family outing to begin with, and the kids have come to accept and appreciate that work and parenting go hand in hand for me.
Maybe I will just not make so many plans and resolutions for the school year. I vow to do my best to stop trying to be the perfect working mom, at least until next summer rolls around.