For The Moms In the End of the Year Struggle

In recent weeks my mother has gotten in the habit of sending me random, encouraging and sometimes funny text messages throughout my work day. She sent one last week that caught me laughing waaaay out loud that my co-workers thought that I had lost my mind for a minute. She sent me the following text…

I thought of how my mother is a witness and a participant of the madness that happens in the morning. Basically, I’m a tornado or a hurricane (depending on how close in time I’m cutting it to get my daughter to school on time). There isn’t much yelling, but there are days when my 9-year-old is difficult and slow moving and I have to turn into Monster Mom. My mom helps us out a lot in the morning, but that still doesn’t cool down my stress my levels. Couple that with a day job that zaps much of my energy and whatever is left I attempt to give to her but it usually ends in a “fail” for me.

So here we are faced with her last week of school. We’re almost at the finish line of another academic year. She struggled a bit, but I feel determined to work with her in areas she needs working in over the summer. Yeah, that sounds good and all.. but….

I need to work on that “but.”

In the meantime, my mother’s text reminded me of something I wrote towards the end of my daughter’s kindergarten year. It all started when I read a Huffington Post article from Jen Hatmaker. I responded with an open letter.

Dear Jen Hatmaker, the Worst End of the School Year Mom

(Originally written June 12, 2013)

Dear Jen Hatmaker,

Recently your blog post “Worst End of the School Year Mom Ever,” that appeared in the Huffington Post, was shared within an email neighborhood listserv I subscribe to. I had to stop all my multi-functions to focus and zero in your thoughts. You see, here it is dead smack in the middle of June and I spent much of the morning fielding and responding to emails in regards to some business, coming up with a creative way to rob Peter to pay Paul to pay for school pictures that my child’s school arranged for this week and figuring out where my child is going to go for summer camp. Not to mention I’m sort of on deadline with an article, but for some reason I had to turn down all the noise to read your post. By the end, I found myself in tears, but not because I found a release from some bottled up melancholy feelings through your words. Well I found a release, but through hard core laughter that left me in tears.

Honey, let me share that title with you. Better yet, let’s have a virtual awards show to see who is really the worst end of the school year mom!!!! I damn near spit fizzy bubbles of my Fresca out my nose after reading this:

“I feel like any sort of school energy required at this point is pure oppression, like the universe is trying to destroy me. I’m so tiiiiiiiiired and I have five kids and that is just too many to educate well. I can only handle around two, so I’m going with Sydney and Caleb because they both like to read and the other three are just going to have to enroll in Life Skills Class one day and develop a trade.”

Ok, let me first say, BLESS YOU and your five honey! I only have one. My one is a 4-foot-whatever, wide-eyed, highly inquisitive (the whys keep coming), afro mohawk wearing, rough, tough, but girlie while digging for worms only to show me in the kitchen later, talk a hole in your head, Gumball and Spongebob watching, gum chewing, Yorkie chasing (poor dog), talk to you from sun up to sun up (she talks in her sleep! Lucky Me!) soon to be first grader. I have to say, I love watching her grow right before my eyes and I love that she’s eager to her school work done at home, but yeah…. mommy is tired.

Here’s what the end of the school year is looking like for us…

1. For the whole year her class hasn’t been on a field trip. I was starting to believe that maybe the teachers didn’t want to be bothered. Oh but here comes middle of May and we’re off to not one.. but two with possible three TRIPS! BACK TO BACK TRIPS! To steal your words — “What fresh hell is this?” Oh and did I mention because I work from home and have flexible time, I figure I can go along to be a chaperon. Oh how her teacher and the aide appreciate that. With each trip that I agreed to go on, I was showered with hugs and “bless yous!” Not to mention the imminent doom I felt on the day of one trip and I was handed one kid that coughs and hacks (like a grown ass person) and barely covers their mouth or uses tissue. Great day for me to leave my hand sanitizer in another purse eh?

Hours later I found myself in this position:

2. For the whole year — August to June — my daughter has brought home monthly homework. We work on it daily and at the end of each month she turns it in. We’ve been doing this since she started her school as a pre-schooler. Being that she is in kindergarten, this year’s homework consisted of a lot of writing, reading and some math. Granted it’s all simple and very basic… I tap out around mid-May. It’s getting so bad that if she doesn’t know how to spell a word, I write it down and tell her to practice it and make sure to give her a BIG sheet of paper so she can be busy for a while. Hey I can get in a phone call and cut up, rinse off and boil some potatoes.

3. Each evening I am to check her agenda book for notes and to see if she received a “green” (the color for a good day) or a “red” (the color for when she has misbehaved very badly). So there comes a point when I barely check the agenda book, because I know she gets “greens” all day, every day. Welp, I slipped last week. Last week, I treated my daughter to an evening at the circus. Little did I know that in her book bag was her agenda book and within its pages loomed a big fat red dot with heavy black ink bleeding around it stating that she didn’t pay attention in class and even walked out of the classroom without permission. TWO weeks left for school and she pulled that stunt! No Ma’am! Had I not been so doggone blah-zay about checking that agenda book we probably wouldn’t have gone to the circus as a form of punishment. But due to my lack of knowledge about what waiting for me at the time, we went and she had a good ole time scarfing down popcorn and funnel cake while getting a kick out of the magicians turning a cage full of people into tigers; as if she didn’t get in trouble in school earlier in the day. Needless to say all electronics and such were taken from her as a form of punishment once I found out. Seriously it’s too far gone into the school year to be about this punishment life. I think she realizes that and has been trying her hardest to be back in good graces.

4. Reading time is a hot mess. It comes just after she’s tucked in bed for the evening. First we have to go through World Wars 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10……….shit… to “infinity and beyond.” Depending on energy and stress levels, we may can squeeze in a reading. Reading is a hit or miss. I want my daughter to be a good reader. Actually she is at her level and yes I was through the roof and over the moon when she wrote random sentences, understood what she wrote and the spelling was 98 percent correct!!!!! But when she begs ME to read her a story at night…… remember what you said here:

“My friend Glennon over at Momastery described nighttime reading like this: “The little one wants to ‘help read’ her book. So, let’s see. It takes her about six minutes to sound out each word, and so if the book is one hundred words, well, I don’t specialize in math but I am telling you that I am stuck in that room FOREVER. It feels like I will be reading that book with Amma until I die.”

Yeah.. it’s something like that except….. ok.. I’ll pick a book that we’ve read countless times. So she knows all the words from front to back. So she’s reading it like a pro! But if it’s something she hasn’t reached “pro” status with, I’m the reader and well… I’ve been known to dose off in the middle of a “zall scooting down the hall” or a “noothgrush on a toothbrush” (Thanks Dr. Seuss) only to be jolted back to life thanks to a slap upside the head with a hard bound book. Wait! can I press charges for mommy abuse? When I come to I’m staring straight into a pair of beady eyes that try to look cross only to lighten up and follow with a laugh. So I clear my throat and pick up where I left off only to suddenly hear myself say something about the “ghair under the chair” has twisted its way to some pipes and the colors separated from the rainbow and tied themselves as a bow and landed on a goat………….

Yeah… end scene and lights out….

5. Now with this picture thing…her school normally takes pictures in October. When October showed up but no notice about pictures I asked “what gives.” I was told that the PTA wasn’t please with the current vendor and the school was searching for another and pictures would be done in the spring. Ok. Again, I say I tap out around mid-May. I figured the school didn’t want to be bothered. Welp! The notice came home last week again.. TWO WEEKS left for school. So I made arrangements for my child to get her hair done. It was done Sunday but picture day isn’t until tomorrow (Thursday). So now everyone in the family is nervous to see if her afro mohawk will hold up, because her hair has grown tremendously and through her wild and self talking slumbers, she manages to take off head scarves. Needless to say, my kid loves her mohawk and just like a girl she is making sure it doesn’t ruin… EVER!

Basically, you summed up how us moms feel towards the end of an academic year. We’re the “Little Engines That Could” and when it’s all over we’ve seen our children through another year, another grade level. We have roughly three months to recuperate, if we survive the summer.

Thank you Jen Hatmaker for making my day!