Every August I begin the countdown. Time to stock up on underwear, kids! Here’s some socks, ya punks! Take your No. 2 pencils, bitches!
I begin to do the happy dance inside — because I can see it.
Sweet, sweet September. Summer Mom Camp is over, and the sky’s the limit.
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I think about the cabinets I’ll organize, how I’ll clear so much paper off my desk that I’ll find my keyboard. I’ll go onto Snapfish and make photo books from the last five years of photos. I’ll get thin again, clean a summer’s worth of garbage out of my minivan, make a quilt out of my kids’ old shirts. I’ll volunteer at their school, register to be a substitute teacher, volunteer at the local soup kitchen. I will be (jazz hands) amazing!
And a little bit, I’m aware that I do this because 1993-feminist me, with college diploma in hand, throws up in her mouth a little bit every time she hears that I’m a SAHM. (That me had no idea what the real world would bring.)
So I plan instead to be Superlative Mom. The vision is so clear.
Come September, there will be hours upon hours of time dripping off my body and falling to the pristine floor around me in puddles of shiny, clean, infinite, productive time. I’ll read a book. Hell, maybe I’ll even write a book.
But somehow it never works out like that. By the time I clean up the kitchen, jog around the block a few times, toss in some loads of laundry, run to Target for someone’s project supplies, and fill a crockpot, it’s already time to pick the kids up. Suddenly, I hit October and realize that nothing has changed.
And I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed in me. I had hopes and dreams for September. I coulda been a contender.
September is like New Year’s Day, but for kids, moms, and educators. It’s the start of the new year, a fresh page, a new beginning. And every year I stick onto it a load of expectations for how much more I can accomplish. Last year when my youngest started kindergarten, I resolved to run a marathon and write a book and clean out every closet in the house, which seemed reasonable at the time.
Twelve months later and the three closets I actually got to are already messy again. There’s no marathon medal hanging on a picture frame, no book on the bookshelf with my name on it. There’s hardly any evidence of me at all.
So I’m here to tell you: Let. It. Go.
There will not be books and marathons and volunteering and part-time jobbing and personal fulfillment, or certainly not more than one of any of those things, maybe two or three if you drink a lot of coffee — because you’re still human. Also, there are still loads of laundry to be washed, dishes to be loaded in the dishwasher, homework to be checked, minivans to be driven. And being a SAHM is an actual (non-paying) full-time job of its very own.
So before you go and make that list of September resolutions, may I suggest a list of September resolutions worth sticking with:
1. Breathe deeply. You’ve earned it.
2. Give yourself credit for every load of laundry, crockpot dinner, homework checked on, kid driven somewhere, and dishwasher loaded. You rock.
3. Find your soul, if you have a minute. (It’s probably next to the washer.)
4. Remember that 1993 you was a chump with bad hair who knew nothing.
5. Be patient. This kid-raising thing will be over all too soon, and then you’ll have plenty of time for all the other crap.
6. And know you’re good enough, just the way you are.