A Memorable First Day of School

Memorable First Day of School 4Memorable First Day of School 3Memorable First Day of School 2

First Day of School

Today was my kids’ first day of school and although they were excited to meet their new teachers and see if any of their friends were in their classes, no one was more excited than me. I love back to school time. I had been dreaming of 7-hour, uninterrupted work days since they started preschool four years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my kids. I love the fact that I’m able to work from home and my non-profit work is so flexible that I make my own schedule. But having worked in 15-minute, 1-hour, and 2-hour increments for the past 3 years, I was finally ready to have a regular workday. I envisioned seeing the kids off on the bus at 7:45am, working for 7 hours, then picking them up at the bus stop. My hope is that with our new schedule I’ll be able to have more work/life balance with those 7 hours of uninterrupted work time while they’re in school.

First Day of School Drama - chairWe had a great 1/2 week vacation at the beach with our friends, and returned home Sunday afternoon. To celebrate the start of school, and the fact that my tushy would be spending more time in my home office working, I made a trip to World Market to see about buying a new office chair. I found the perfect one – on sale, too! My new office is starting to look more and more like the productive workspace I was hoping it would become.

This morning was the big day. I got the kids up at 6:30am and made them and easy and fun breakfast (thank you frozen french toast sticks), packed their lunches, and took a few photos before my husband and I walked them to the bus stop. They were all smiles waiting for the bus and Owen agreed to walk his sister to her classroom since we had missed Meet the Teacher day last week while we were at the beach.

The bus arrived right on time and we sent them off to school with kisses and hugs. The bus driver gave us parents all a knowing wink and told us to enjoy our days. I couldn’t wait to get started in a nice, quiet house which was all mine for the next 7 hours.

Memorable First Day of School 1For a second I contemplated making myself a Bloody Mary to celebrate the occasion, as one of my best friends from high school had sent me a bottle of famous Natural Blonde Bloody Mary mix – a specialty product we had tried on our girls’ trip to Charleston back in April. Then my productive side kicked in and decided to save the drink for Sunday brunch instead. Good thing.Memorable First Day of School 5

Ben was packing for a quick business trip to Denver while I figured I’d use some of my time to bake some banana bread with our spotted bananas. The kids would have a nice after school treat for their first day. Got it into the oven and set the timer, grabbed a mug of coffee and sat down at my computer to start my first glorious full day of work.

Thirty minutes in, I got a call from school.

At first I was worried one of my kids was sick. But the nurse quickly assured me Vivian was fine, but that she couldn’t be in the classroom since they did not have her completed health forms.

F*@&#@&-A!

Parent of the year over here. I thought I was winning when I ordered their school supplies in June when we got the email from the PTA.

I nearly broke down in tears as I was talking to the school nurse. All I could think about was my little girl in tears because I was going to have to pick her up. I knew she’d be devastated and I’d feel like a terrible mother for ruining her first day of Kindergarten.

I asked the nurse if she could stay at the health office until I called the pediatrician to see if they could fax over her forms. (I was pretty sure her health records were up to date, and that I’d just forgotten to turn them into school, but I was freaking out a tiny bit that I missed the boat all together and she’d need a complete physical which could take who knows how long.) The nurse said that was fine and I assured her I’d call back as soon as I spoke to the secretary at the pediatrician’s office.

The hold time during that phone call seemed to take an hour.

Finally I got through and told the secretary I felt like the world’s most awful parent. I asked if she could please look up my daughter’s record because I forgot to turn in her forms and today was her first day of school.

Thankfully, her health record was complete, but the doctor who did her physical wasn’t in today and she’d need to sign the form before they could send it to school. So I’d have to wait until tomorrow. I pleaded and asked if there was anything they could do. She said I’d need to come in and fill out the top of the form and they’d see, but they couldn’t promise anything because they had patients to see, etc. I said I’d be over right away, and may have cursed (loudly) after making sure I had hung up.

I didn’t care anymore about having a day to myself to work. I didn’t want to disappoint my baby. I felt like such a failure. I screamed at my husband for not helping me remember things like stupid health forms. He said he didn’t even know they needed health forms. (Of course he didn’t, because it was always my responsibility. Moms are in charge of everything.)

Instead of turning into a sobbing mess, I decided to just do what I could do.

“Take the banana bread out of the oven or turn it off before you leave!” I yelled as I ran out the door.

Driving over to the pediatrician’s office I told myself that there are worse things that could have happened, and that if she has to come home today and start school tomorrow, it’s not the end of the world. I could figure out something to make it up to her.

To make a long story short, the secretary said she’d do her best to get another doctor to sign the form and she’d fax it over during the morning. As I handed over my credit card to pay the $15 administrative fee I told her to charge me extra for messing up. She laughed. I took that as a good sign that she’d take pity on me and help me out.

On the phone again to school, I told the nurse they’d be faxing over the forms. Within 20 minutes I had a call back saying they got the forms and she was walking Vivian back to her classroom.

Parenting crisis averted.

 

They both had awesome first days of school and Vivi didn’t even mind missing “morning work” in class since she did it while she was waiting in the nurse’s office. The first thing she noticed when they walked in the house was the smell of banana bread. It turned out to be an eventful and memorable first day of school. Here’s to a full day of work (and school) tomorrow. Cheers!

 

Less and More

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Sitting here, on the barstool at our kitchen island – my new favorite writing spot once the kids are in bed and Ben has kissed me goodnight before heading upstairs himself – the house is quiet except for the hum and rhythmic click of zippers from laundry being tossed around in the dryer.

I’m snacking on a bowl of the granola bars I made with the kids today. It’s in a bowl because they never set and are all crumbly so I have to eat it with a spoon. I choose a kiddie spoon out of the drawer, realizing in that moment that we’ll soon be getting rid of all the kiddie cutlery. At three and five my kids no longer want to use a tiny plastic fork or spoon, protesting when I still serve them cereal with the brightly colored utensils.

Practically every night I worry that I’m failing them as a mom. Why is it I always play back the mistakes I made during the day, rather than recall the beautiful moments we had playing and laughing and snuggling together? I wonder if I’m too focused on my own personal goals and feel guilty I don’t consciously set goals as a mom.

I want to make significant changes in this new year, this fresh start. I want to check email less, and bake with my kids more. I want to complain less and drink in the giggles more. I want to not stress out over small things and hug my family and friends more. I want to be less critical and be more appreciative. I want to not freak out when the kids are simply being kids, and instead smile and file the memory of how they are at these ages away so I never forget.

Every day is a new chance to try again. Another day to try my best at being the absolute best mom I can be for my kids.

Help for Yelling

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It happened again. We had another rough morning and I feel horribly guilty for yelling too much, too loud, too mean. Why is it that one awful parenting moment can so easily make me doubt my worth as a mother? Why can’t I stop the cycle of yelling at my kids? I don’t want them to remember their childhood years as a pile full of broken memories of their Mommy screaming at them. Just typing that makes me so sad.

 

This Sunday at church, one of our priests stood by the baptismal font during communion and offered healing prayer to anyone who wanted to pray with him. I walked over after receiving communion, and asked him to help me pray for patience. Patience with my kids, my family, and myself. I needed to start somewhere and this perfect opportunity gave me hope.

 

But I’m quickly learning that I need a whole lot more than hope if I’m ever going to fix my yelling problem.

 

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8:15am this morning. I looked up from the sandwiches and fruit I was tossing into lunch sacks for the kids to check the time. From the other room, I heard her big brother giving a lesson on Lego firemen and how they help people in trouble while she ohhhed and ahhed and asked questions here and there. For the most part, they were playing happily together while I rushed about the kitchen assembling healthy lunches. I was grateful in that moment.

 

With the lunch task completed, I ushered the kids upstairs so that we could all get dressed and ready and out the door.

 

The kids couldn’t agree on a show to watch together on the ipad while I got ready. He wanted Lunar Jim and she wanted Calliou. There was no compromising and so I took the privilege away. That’s when it happened.

 

My little man told me, in the middle of our angry, rotten argument over the fact that I took the ipad away, that he was going to get rid of me. (He also told me that he loved the ipad more than he loved me, but that’s a whole different post altogether.) The kids were still in their jammies, I had no time to take a shower, and it was apparent we weren’t going to get there on time. I should have just given up on trying.

 

“I’m going to get rid of you, Mommy! he threatened, with all the power and might of his little four-and-a-half-year-old voice.

 

His words were like a dagger to my heart.

 

And when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.

 

“Oh, really? How are you going to do that, bud?” I retorted as I pulled my sweater over my head.

 

“I’ll put you in the trash can!” he screamed as hot tears spilled down his cheeks.

 

And with that, he forced the dagger in further and twisted it sharply. I knew in that moment that I was failing him as a parent. I could sense the anguish behind his words. I could feel his anger squeeze my heart and wring it out. I had become so worthless to him that he wanted to throw me away.

 

Right then and there, in my mind, silently to myself I vowed to make some serious changes.

 

I finished getting dressed and then got down on my knees and pulled him to me, wrapping him with all that I had left. I cried with him, and we both whispered over and over again our vows to stop fighting and yelling. Baby girl timidly walked over with open arms and joined in on our big hug.

 

This is where the healing begins.

 

I dropped them off at school and came home to start writing. A good friend of mine had forwarded me an email about an upcoming program at her church. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read the description of the free workshop. “The instructor will demonstrate ways to eliminate power struggles and yelling, get kids off video games/screens without a fight and create stress-free mornings.” I immediately signed up, thanked her for inviting me, and breathed a sigh of relief.


I can stop beating myself up. I’m putting a plan in place. Help is on the way and I’m excited about the future.

My fourth post for WhatToExpect.com’s Word of Mom Blog went live yesterday. Please check it out if you have a chance.

Thanks so much!