A fall/back-to-school/autumn review…

Fall, back-to-school, autumn, whatever name you give this time of year, always signifies a new start for me. It’s like New Year, but not really. Now that we’re well into it, I can sit here and reflect on the madness that has been the last four weeks.

Although I’m anti New Year’s resolutions (it’s just too much pressure!) I’m all about resolutions for a new school year.

Let’s begin with School Lunches:

I’ll make them the night before, because clearly, that’s totally genius – is how it always starts.

But then September means the start of a new season of The Voice, and the good Lord knows I can’t resist those blind auditions. And Blake and Adam’s bromance? Is there anything better on TV? I vow to wake up wake up extra early as I settle on the couch. Except that I’m allergic to early wake-ups. October. October sounds more reasonable for night-before-school-lunch making, I tell myself. Wait? What’s that about The Walking Dead returning in October? Umm; January sounds more reasonable anyway.

How ‘bout those weeknight meals:

After an eat-at-your-own-convenience summer, back-to-school brings about new anxiety about having to actually prepare a meal.  Popcorn for dinner no longer qualifies. All of a sudden I start to talk meal-planning, and grocery budgets, and organic vegetables, and of course, my old standby, juicing. I run to the grocery store and load the cart with all sorts of good intentions. We start to see an increase of green food on our table, and more frequent visits to the bathroom, but maybe that’s a little too much information. Regardless, it all starts off well, until the reality hits that my family begins to expect this on the daily. As panic sets in that I may have set the bar a wee bit high, I throw in some frozen chicken fingers in the oven and call it dinner, so that they don’t forget who I really am. Y’all know I’m all for keeping it real.

The Cleaning of the closets:

Ah, yes, the dreaded closet cleanout.

Let me begin by saying that there was a time when I used to love closet cleanout time. The change of season meant that I got to take inventory of my clothing situation, and before I knew it, shopping would follow. Ah. Those were the days.

Fast forward to now. Closet cleanout involves my offspring ‘helping’. Parents, you know what I mean when I say ‘helping’. They mean well, they really do. And it all starts well. They’re like busy little bees buzzing from their rooms, carrying clothes to their designated piles. And the piles are rather ambitious, aren’t they? Donation Pile. Mending Pile. Hand-Me-Down Pile. Wait. Back it up. Mending pile? I told you – Ambitious. In the end, when my children start to climb the piles and begin to ignore my pleas for help as I’m buried under baby clothes I just can’t part with – it all ends up in the donation pile. And then sits at my front door for another month. But that’s another story.

The memory that could be Apple/Pumpkin picking:

Apple picking, just like a visit to the pumpkin patch, makes it on to the list of ‘things we must do if we are to be good parents and ensure that our children have healthy childhood memories, plus I can’t be the only one who doesn’t have photos of these events to post on Facebook’ things to do. I never said I was sane. So every year, I carefully plan for this to happen. Maybe carefully isn’t the right word.  Maybe plan isn’t even the right word. Okay, fine, truth is I couldn’t care less about these two Autumn-Rights-Of-Passage, so we just visit our local grocery store, buy organic locally grown apples, because I’m not completely heartless and do want my kids to have a hint of the apple orchard experience, and then we grab the two closest pumpkins to the car, because those things are heavy, and we laugh and call it a memory.

Like all things in life, at least in my life, my family and I take things as they come, and the start of a new school year, is no different than anything else. Sure, I go into a tizzy and hyperventilate at the thought of trying to be the best version of myself at the start of the new school year, for my children’s sake, but in the end, things always seem to work better when I’m just me.

My oldest son reminded me of this during this exchange:

Me: I need to bake more. I really should bake more. You and your brother should expect me to bake more.

Him: What? (he sounds so much like his father when he says this)

Me: You know, I really should bake more. You and your brother deserve that. Like all your friends’ moms. I’m sure they bake for their children. Fresh baked cookies and treats probably welcome their kids after school.

Him: Umm. Mom? None of my friends’ moms bake them fresh cookies every day after school.

Me: They don’t?

Him: Not that I know of. And who cares anyway. You be you.

Me: Well, then what am I going on about? Never mind.  Carry on. And have an apple. Pretend I picked it fresh just for you.

Him: Mom, you’re funny. I like that about you.

And just like that, my children bring me right back to who I truly am. A mom who loves them fiercely, who overthinks just about everything, who panics at the drop of hat, who loves to laugh, mainly at herself, who needs reminders that being who I truly am, during any time of the year, is what my kids truly deserve and want.

So bring it Fall, back-to-school, autumn – whatever name you prefer for yourself – we’re ready for you. (And by that, I clearly mean, that I’m not ready, I never am. Back to school season always comes as a surprise to me; year after year. But it all works out in the end. Oh, and sometimes, I surprise myself and end up baking cookies. That actually taste like cookies. And I even remember to leave them out on the table so that my kids find them ready to be enjoyed right after school. They take a minute to look at me, rather incredulously I may add, they shake their head at my attempt to overcompensate, because they see right through me, but then cookies win in the end, as they always do.)

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