Thursday, March 3, 2016

When Mom is Flunking Elementary School

I'd like to take a minute to talk about what it means to be a School Mom. You guys, this is no joke. The school mom hat is literally the most difficult for me. When I was pregnant with my first child, people gave me all kinds of advice trying to prepare me for motherhood. That advice was so helpful. Motherhood rocked my world, but at least I had the wise words from smart women to get me through those first few years. But you know what know one talks about? The role of school mom. It's like a secret club. And you don't know what's going on until you are knee deep in homework, papers to sign, after school club advertisements, and PTA cupcake requests.

I was barely treading water for the first 3 years with just Amelia in school. Close to drowning but able to doggy paddle my way through the parent/teacher conferences and field trips. Thankfully, Amelia takes after her father, so she is brilliant and willing to self motivate when it comes to homework. I was tricked into thinking it was doable. Then, out of nowhere, like a punch in the face, I have 2 children in full-time public school and 1 in an awesomely proactive preschool. And guess what.... it aint going so good.

Jen Hatmaker (if I knew what spirit animals were, she would be mine) really spoke my language when she posted this a few years about about the real struggle of the "end of school" mom. I can totally relate, but sadly this is me ALL OF THE TIME. I promise you guys, I do not start off the year mothering like a champ. I'm consistently as bad at it on the first day as I am on the last. Amelia has been going to school since birth and every single new year sneaks up on me. Seriously. It's usually not even on my calendar. I have (more than once) tried to drop her off during spring break or winter break because I was totally unaware that there was a school holiday. Walt's kindergarten registration last year took me so much by surprise that I showed up with NO 5 year shot records, NO birth certificate, and NO social security card. I DID have him with me and just said... This is Walt. We have no proof of his existence, but we would very much like for him to attend this school in a few months. He's mostly healthy and really cute. They just looked at me with pity and wrote his name on an empty manilla folder.  So when I say I am always trying to catch up from behind....Im not joking.

Here is an abbreviated list of things that I am currently failing at as a school mom. Not the complete list... just the high profile screw-ups.

1. Teacher Appreciation Week(s) – Please let me start by saying I LOVE TEACHERS. My children have some of the absolute best teachers. I am so thankful that they put in the time and energy and work every day to love on my children and make them better human beings. And they need the week of appreciation. If nothing else, so that moms like me who don't think to give gifts or say "Thank you" enough will have a reminder to do those things. With that said, I never know when this week is and therefore it seems to come 7 times a year. I know that is not possible, but for the unorganized sloth that I am it sure seems that way. And of course, schools now have very specific schedules for these weeks. And the expectation of the cute pinterest inspired gifts is super high. That alone makes my head explode. But what is even better is that this year TA week follows Dr Seuss dress up week. That leads me to the next fail...

2. Fun Dress Up Days – This includes School Spirit Day, Free Dress (Non Uniform) Day, Red Ribbon Week, Dr Seuss Week, Book Character Day, Community Helper Day, 100th Day, "What do you want to be when you grow up" Day.... The list goes on and on. I totally get that these days are really fun for our sweet kids. Our school has an awesome standardized dress code which is the perfect balance between rigid uniforms and free dress. For someone like me, it's so nice to take the guess work out of getting dressed in the morning. So I can see that mixing it up every now and then is good for them. But y'all my kids are barely getting out of the house with their shoes on most days. Throw in a curve ball like "Oh yeah mom I'm supposed to dress like the Lorax tomorrow" at 7:15pm (or better yet the morning of) and I want to collapse into the fetal position.

Dr Seuss Day.
This is what you can do with a visor and construction paper
when forced to create a costume last minute.
Also, with just a little sharpie touch up on last year's Thing costume,
you are good to go. But, look how happy they are.

3. Box tops, Can drive, Library book donations – Yay for helping out the Public School System and the community! I also love that they get the kids excited about doing their part, but FOR THE LOVE! I can not seem remember to clip those teeny tiny (why aren't they bigger?) box tops or to buy extra can goods while I'm chasing 3 children around Kroger. Just last week Walt would not take "No" for an answer on the can issue so I was forced to pull from what I already had in the pantry. I can not imagine what his teacher thought when he rolled up there with canned artichokes, pureed pumpkin, mandarin oranges, and tomato paste. I mean I can actually imagine. Im sure they just shook their head, because by now I must have a reputation among the faculty. And coincidentally the class who brings in the most cans/boxtops/books is always rewarded with... you guessed it... a free dress day.

4. AR testing – So I realize AR is a little controversial anyway, but my issues are not with the concept. I just can't seem manage this in my own home. Amelia has always been a great reader (remember she takes after her father) so she has never really needed an incentive program to read more. I do, however, understand that this kind of program motivates kids who don't particularly love to read. So, anyway, while Amelia is constantly reading she simply will not be bothered to take an AR test. If you read my last post about her you can imagine her response is usually "Oh yeah. I forgot to take a test on that. Maybe I'll do that next week." And she skips off while smoke comes out of my ears. Enter Walt, who seems to be following in the super reader footsteps of his sister. (yay) Although he is only in kindergarten he is showing great potential and should be encouraged and worked with (nightly) on reading easy chapter books so that he can be one of the select few kindergarteners to start taking AR tests. Um. That's great, but can we just not? Is that bad? Would that be stunting his growth? Cause listening to a kindergartener (no matter how advanced he is) reading a chapter book is excruciating.

5. Potty Training – Although not directly related to school it is indirectly related since my youngest will not be allowed to graduate to the next preschool class if she is not potty trained. But you know what? I will save this discussion for another time. This topic really needs its own special post.

These are the top five that are really getting to me, but there are oh so many more. Homework, Signing Conduct reports, The many many after school sign ups sheets that go directly in the trash because the only after school activities we can manage are homework, dinner, and baths. And usually only 2 out of 3.

The amazing thing is I know there are moms out there rocking all of this. I see you. I applaud you. This job is not for the faint of heart and you are nailing it. Thank you for picking up the slack on the can drives and being my child's "parent" on field trips and giving those awesome pinteresty Teacher Appreciation gifts to the VERY deserving teachers. I am so thankful for women like you! Please accept my fist bump. And to the other elementary school mom flunkies... keep the faith. We all have our gifts and our kids love us for them. They will graduate even if they have to wear their uniform on free dress day because "I already ironed your uniform and you are wearing it!" Or even if they have to be dropped off in carline on "Walk to School Wednesday" because mom forgot and is still wearing her pjs and slippers. They will survive (and so will we) and will probably have some good stories to tell their kids one day.