Here’s the Thing: Back to school time means changes

School is here. I’m a stay-at-home mother with two kids going into school this week. As tame as the subject sounds, it’s my life and very real.

My son is half size, so he goes to school half time. My daughter is full size (we share shoes), so she goes full time. Adjusting to 9 months of routine after 3 months of vacation is rough, but will eventually become welcomed.

Depending on the subject matter, I’m the kind of person that doesn’t deal with “change” very well. I believe in changing diapers. I believe in changing viewpoints. I don’t believe in changing my usual order of coffee. I don’t believe Homer doesn’t have the Alaska Wild Berry Store anymore. That kind of change is disturbing. I can’t even talk about change without making a face like something stinks. Unless it’s improving the quality of something, change stinks. It takes a lot of perspective to realize the dirty word change isn’t scary, but can mean adventure. Doesn’t mean being out of control, but instead experiencing something new.

In my case, I feel like school is honing in on our family time and is the official stamp on the package saying that summer is over. I’m in mourning, but in no time will embrace it.

The life of a stay-at-home mom changes often. Like, all the time. We get promoted from nursing our babies to feeding them with spoons. From handing them a toy to pushing play on the DVD player. From cleaning up uncontrollable bodily functions to assisting in toilet training. We’re basically teachers. Even when we don’t mean to be. Your kid said a naughty word? Think they learned it on Sesame Street? Or by the sharp edge of the coffee table that sticks out when you run into it? I wish when I stubbed my toe I’d shout “hallelujah”.

Now they’re older and have a professional teacher. You pray they repeat nice words. The kids are old enough to take responsibility as human beings and make their own choices, especially in school. The undertones of that kind of pressure linger, so most parents care and work hard to establish good habits.

When you’re a stay-at-home mom and the kids go to school, there is a special conversation people like to have about your life. It goes from nonchalant to defending your existence. What do you do when your kids aren’t home? You basically just sit around? Nailed it. I love hearing this. It makes me smile big and my hands start to tingle. It makes me feel a little crazy. Like a clown with a sledgehammer running through the hallway crazy. (Sorry for the imagery, just pretend he’s excited to fix a boat or something.)

I kindly reply that my nanny is gone so I have to pick up or drop off the kids for school and other activities. My seat filler is on vacay, so I end up sitting on the bleachers for so many hours a week, watching my kids practice and grow up. Did you hear my chef ran away with the maid? I’m stuck grocery shopping and keeping the house clean. I will never know why, but four people is ten times the laundry and dishes. It’s a math problem that never makes sense. If you want to clean my home, that would be great! It would probably save me an entire day until I have to do it all over again. Where’s my handyman to pay bills, fix the dish washer, clean the raw chicken smell from the trunk of my car, and feed, bath, and clothe my kids? I have none of those people in my life. It’s all me, Amigo.

Truly, I enjoy the mom life and am not offended by others. I’m happy and honored to be in charge of a family and home. Even when I’m not good at it, it’s still a blast.

Here’s the thing: As school begins, a new system begins. The beginning of the year it’s all freshly sharpened pencils, new clothes, old desks, and happy nerves. Have faith in your kids. My husband and I are average people, so my daughter getting A’s was an anomaly. We’re living proof that two C averages can make an A-plus.

Have faith in your children’s abilities and don’t give up on your own. If you’re a mom and have kids at home, kids at school, kids in homeschool, take pride in your craft. Encourage them, but strengthen yourself. After you set up a curriculum or pack a cold lunch, don’t forget to take a break! The chores will always be there. Just remember to take some time to relax. Or did the chef and maid decide to come back?

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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