Ah, school days, school days. Transitioning around here to the new routine has been a little rough. For the kids, sure. They’re used to sleeping in and playing X-Box all day. However, I do confess they are doing better than their mother, who’s new to this work-from-home, car pooling, full-court-press-mommy scene.
But I came home to work for this very moment: to up the parenting bar for myself, so to speak, to be more present and active with the kids, and so I say: bring it, school year! I OWN YOU.
So while I still have the energy, I’ve created myself a kind of Mommy Manifesto, if you will, of aspirations I have as we enter the 2011-12 school year. As God is my witness, this school year will be improved from the last by the sheer force of my iron will. Thus:
1. I will make lunches the night before school, not in the melee the morning of school, lay out the children’s clothing, and have backpacks ready to go. I will not be afraid of the parent-teacher communication folder. I will open it on occasion. Red stars mean you’re exceptionally well behaved, I’m sure.
2. I will forgive myself daily for the fact my children eat nothing for lunch but peanut butter and chicken nuggets.I will tune out the guilt I get from chirpy mothers who somehow get their kids to eat carrot sticks and apple slices without emotional scarring.
3. I will cancel any and all parenting magazines. This prevents my despair over my inability to shape food into cutesy vegetable faces, facilitate crafts Martha Stewart couldn’t complete without staff, and the realization my children dress like Depression era hobos.
3. I will make as few car pool trips in my pajamas as I can muster. I will wear shoes in the car. Either that or sleep in my workout clothes so when you see me, you’ll think I’m on my way to the gym instead of back to bed. I will embrace wearing a hat. Related: I will not curse other parents who are immaculately dressed, alert, and relaxed at 6:30 am. Even though I hate you and your superior organizational skills with the heat of a thousand suns.
4. Related: I don’t care how awesome Sons of Anarchy is, I will not stay up until the middle of the night on a school night just because I’m enjoying a) silence and b) R rated programming.
5. I will not actively hide from school staff.
6. I will volunteer cheerfully. I will not sulk by the ring toss at the fall carnival checking my watch and changing the rules to the game so we can run out of supplies earlier and go home. Hell, I might even face paint with a smile.
7. I will attend a pep rally with the kids. Never mind that I used to hide in the bathroom as a teenager from the pep rallies at my own school. No matter how I feel about hundreds of kids screaming in an echo chamber of a gymnasium. I will not scowl when I do. I will don, albeit reluctantly, “spirit wear.”
8. I will not complete my children’s projects for them the night before they’re due because I’ve been too busy to help them, and I won’t leave them alone to do it all themselves. I will not allow this year, for example, a rock glued to the bottom of a shoebox with sand thrown in the bottom to be called a diorama. (“No, really, it’s a representation of the ecosystem in Afghanistan! Yeah! That’s the ticket!”)
9. I will resist the urge to throw elbows at other parents who crowd their way in front of me at school programs. I will not judge you for bringing what is clearly the equivalent of a news crew to record your child’s breathless rendition of “The Turkey Boogie” at the Thanksgiving program.
10. I will not arrange bakery cookies on a plate and pass them off as home made. I will not search the house frantically the night before the class Christmas party and end up wrapping paper clips or a used stapler as a teacher gift.
I thought about also including a promise to chaperone a field trip, but forgive me. I’m only human. Herding hundreds of kids with sack lunches in a school bus? I’m not woman enough. Clearly so much growth for me left to be had. But these above aspirations are just a few musings I’ve had on how to make this one a better school year. I’m also kind of sure this manifesto resembles New Year’s resolutions in that I really, really mean them. For at least the next ten days. Best of luck this year, parents! We’re going to need it.
Eliska Counce’s Momma Drama column is published Saturdays in Town Square Buzz.