Sliding Doors

Remember that movie, Sliding Doors? It’s the one that follows Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in two parallel lives, one if she caught her train as planned, and the other if she missed it. It’s all about chance, fate and what’s meant to be. It’s kind of a mediocre movie, but I love it anyway.

I’m living my own little Sliding Doors at the moment.

Lily was supposed to start school yesterday. Thanks to Hurricane Irene, however, the whole school is closed, cancelled on the very first day back from summer vacation.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been counting down the days until classes start for weeks; not so much because I’m anxious to get the kids up in the morning and deal with lunches and uniforms and homework, but because I really need to get this damn book written and it’s impossible to do anything with the all the kids around.

So, the news about school came as a bit of a joke. And, by a bit, I mean I was convinced that we were being Punked all afternoon. It just seemed too, too cruel to possibly be true.

Of course, I realize how lucky we are: We are safe, our house generally unscathed and it could have been so much worse. Of course. But, c’mon, Baltimore Gas & Electric, enough already.

All day yesterday, I walked through life picturing what would be happening if school had been operating as planned.

If I had been able to drop Lily off at eight in the morning, I would have found out who her teacher was and which locker had her name on it. I would have stayed for the boys’ orientations an hour later I would have met their teachers and seen their classrooms. I would have come home and attempted to have them play together while I stole a few minutes here and there on the computer. We would have picked Lily up and they’d play for a while before dinner, when I would, again, attempt to write for a bit. That was what was supposed to happen. It was the plan.

Instead, we all slept late. While I was supposed to be making lunches, I cuddled in bed with the boys. We went to the zoo in the morning with friends, while I should have been at school for drop off and orientations. Later, when I would have been chatting with the other parents about which classes the kids were in and what sports, if any, they’d be doing, we ate my favorite ice cream. Then, we took one of Lily’s friends home and Ben had a play-date of his own, and later we all met for pizza while the kids played at the top of their lungs.

It was a good day. One last summer adventure before the school routine sets in. Arguably better than the parallel day I thought I was getting.

Unfortunately, school is closed again today and we’ll be doing it all over again. I beg to differ with fate on this one, though. I’m pretty sure the kids are meant to be back in school by now. I’ve had it with summer.

About the writer


In addition to being the founder of all things Scary Mommy, Jill is also the New York Times bestselling author of Simon and Schuster’s Confessions of A Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)

From Around the Web


Skye Diaz | motherhood, etc. 4 years ago

I loved that movie Sliding Doors! It shows you are always destined to meet the man of your dreams. :)
I have these moments all the time and always wondered how the other way would have turned out.

tracy 4 years ago

We don’t start for 5 more days. Pray for us all.

The Flying Chalupa 4 years ago

It’s like you’re living a Choose Your Own Adventure book, Jill! Except this time the adventure has been chosen for you – it’s called Groundhog’s Day: The Summer Edition. I only pray Bill Murray – I mean you – wake up soon!

Michele 4 years ago

My son doesn’t go back until Tuesday. It’s been a VERY long summer! Hang in there!
I’ve never seen that movie but now I want to. Thanks!

Megan (Best of Fates) 4 years ago

Wait, you’re writing a book?


This is just unacceptable.

I read every word of your newsletter!

Jayme (RandomBlogette) 4 years ago

It is nice to hear that someone else knows that movie! It is one of my favorite movies. I am always having those “what if” moments. I am so glad that you were safe from the storm but I can’t even imagine how eager you are to get back to normal with school and schedules. I couldn’t wait to send the kids back to school. I needed the normal school routine back just as much as they did!

Headacheslayer 4 years ago

I’m glad you’re all ok! Living in FL we are now used to “sunny-no-school-hurricane-days” thanks to the storms of 2004 (we got hit 3 times in 6 weeks. Ouch.) Many times it is more because they use the schools as storm shelters for the elderly, not necessarily because the kids shouldn’t be in school.

I hate that summer is over. BUT. I do like the quiet. My husband works from home, in the other room, and since I’m disabled, he does most of the “hands-on” duties. But. The quiet is nice :)

Good luck with your book–hope school is back in session for you soon!

Cam – Bibs & Baubles 4 years ago

hilarious! i’m not there yet. my son hasn’t been out for the summer. he’s just in day care. :)

Jennifer Burden @WorldMomsBlog 4 years ago


I overplanned our summer. So, I’m trying to enjoy the do nothing kind of days before my daughter goes back to school to make up for my needing to do everything. I’m so annoyed at myself. So, I’m having the summer I wished that I had this week, and I don’t want it to end…

Jen :)

Mummy Dearest 4 years ago

Believe you me, I’d take summer back in a hot second. We’re one week into third grade and I can assure you one of us is not going to make it out alive. Good luck!!

Mary 4 years ago

We find out in the middle of August. They post the class lists at the start of the parish festival (Catholic school).

Mary 4 years ago

Hahaha! It’s Minnesota state law that school can’t start until after Labor Day (with a few possible exceptions) so schools don’t start Tuesday. BUT our school district has had construction projects going on and my kids don’t even start until Sept. 12! We still get out by the end of May, but there are very few days off scheduled during the school year.

Brittany {Mommy Words} 4 years ago

Oh Jill I feel you. I totally thought that all the kids started school tomorrow but I was so wrong. Sophia is in a new TK program and she does not start until Tuesday. She squealed at 3 more days of summer while I struggled to smile and think of what we would do. It has been a long hot one but I’ve got lots of memories :)

The Mommyologist 4 years ago

I’m over summer too. Especially since Irene left SHIT in my basement. And Hurricane Katia is taking the same path. Just shoot me.

Jessica 4 years ago

Sometimes the unplanned days turn into the best ones. Usually not…but sometimes you end up in the right wormhole.

Jen 4 years ago

That is kinda cruel. Here’s hoping school starts tomorrow.

Jillian 4 years ago

I feel like a total dick admitting my son has been in school since the 10th. He is out yesterday and today due to a cold. However if he wasn’t in yet, he would be in a box. His little mouth couldn’t have survived one more rude word. Not one.

christy 4 years ago

You are freaking hysterical Jill. Love it!

Jessica 4 years ago

As much as I like the ease of summer there gets to be a point where it just needs to be over. My oldest NEEDS to go back to school. We don’t start until next week. If anything happens and that bus doesn’t come I don’t know what we will do.

C @ Kid Things 4 years ago

I was counting down the days this year until school started because both of my boys are going this year and I thought just having 1 at home would award me some kind of break. Apparently I’m delusional thinking my 3 year old daughter would let me have a break. In fact I’m typing this one-handed since she refuses to leave my side. Still, it is a little quieter with my sons inn school and I’m enjoying it. Hope school opens tomorrow for you.

Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation 4 years ago

I cannot fucking believe your kids haven’t started school yet. Sadie has already been in 1 week. Yes, yes I know you hate me now. Sending you LOTS of back to school thoughts & wishes.

Oh yes, and vodka.

Odd Dad 4 years ago

I think the trend is leaning toward shorter summer breaks. When i was a kid school got out in May and didnt begin again until September. Now my kids get out of school in June and go right back at the beginning of August. It is nice to have some peace and quiet to get some writing done, isn’t it? Have you thought about sending your kids to Summer camp?

Melinda 4 years ago

Several years we’ve been out for 2-3 days on the second week of school for hurricanes. But it’s FL and expected. It’s disruptive to getting into the school groove. I always sat at home thinking the same thing. They aren’t suppose to be here. Hope they get it all fixed soon!

Julia’s Child 4 years ago

Here in VT we’re going back to school… oh wait! We’re in limbo. We have no idea when the road will be fixed, and the water drinkable again so we can go back to school. Argh!

christi 4 years ago

I am convinced that summer needs to be MUCH shorter! Perhaps just a month or so. Then give them a longer winter break, fall break, spring break, etc. Research supports that it’s better for their learning and retention, but it’s also better for their mommies sanity!

Varda (SquashedMom) 4 years ago

School doesn’t start here in NYC until NEXT Thursday the 8th. Am praying I keep my sanity intact until then. Questionable if this is possible. Wishing you good luck for school start tomorrow.

Heather 4 years ago

I LOVE this post and all the reactions. My son is only 15 months old, and as much as I love him, I’ve never ever questioned the fact he’ll go to school one day. Your words and the comments that follow just confirm it. Imagine homeschooling. Yikes! Non-stop togetherness. PS – I also love that mediocre movie. What is it about it?

Kim 4 years ago

My kids are in the BCPS system and were VERY fotunately one of the schools that went back today. I was doing the freaking happy dance yesterday when they finally announced! I hope you’re doing the same dance today. They need to be in school – that is for darn tootin’ sure.

OneHonestMom 4 years ago

If they had sympathy cards for such occasions, I would send you one. That is terrible. If my kids (6 & 4 1/2) were not going to school, but hanging in limbo – not summer, not at school, I would go insane. INSANE!
Kids are supposed to be in school in September like Christmases are supposed to be white. Wish I had something encouraging to say….but I’ve come up empty, sorry. I hope your kids will be sitting at school, bums in desks, as soon as absolutely possible.

Heather M 4 years ago

School doesn’t start until the 6th Sept here and then it’s only for an hour the first day. There’s the possibility of a teacher’s strike too – which would mean school doesn’t start … at all. I think they are ready to go back.. even if they don’t know it 😉

MusingsfromMe/Jill 4 years ago

We were closed Monday. My middle and elementary schoolers were back Tuesday. My high schooler was off yesterday due to the power outages. All three kids are in school today and all is right in this mom’s world!
I hope you get back to normal soon.

MusingsfromMe/Jill 4 years ago

My kids’ school used to post the lists at the open house. It was madness. A zoo! Parents and kids pushing an shoving to get to the lists. I once used my stroller as a way to get near to my daughter’s class list. Shameless…I know.

The school has come to its senses. The teacher assignments are mailed a week before school starts. I never understood waiting until the last minute to tell kids and parents because if you are not happy with your child’s assigned teacher you are going to ask for the child to be moved regardless of when you get the letter.

Jennifer Probst 4 years ago

OH God, you took the words out of my mouth! I have a million things to do, revising, writing, blogging, reviewing. My kids crawl on my lap every five minutes and ask what fun thing we are doing today, and then I feel guilty. I hate getting up too but I need some structure! I was thinking more like Groundhog Day but Sliding Doors will work – lol!!! I have six more days left!

MusingsfromMe/Jill 4 years ago

I’m a fan of anything chocolate at the moment…and really chocolate is always a fave.

Adria 4 years ago

Love, love, love that movie. Love the accents, love Gwyneth. I could watch it over and over and, for me, as a chick flick, it wasn’t just mediocre. It was fab!

Book4MyDaughter 4 years ago

I would be so horribly disappointed! I have been waiting for the kids to go back to school since August started. I just need my routine back—exercising during my lunch break, quiet during meetings, earlier bedtimes—I just miss it so much!

I hadn’t thought of that movie in ages—thanks for the reminder.

beth 4 years ago

What’s your fave ice cream?
Mine currently is Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack.

Paula @ thewilyweez 4 years ago

Maybe they will extend the school year to make up for these few days…one can always hope right!?

Carolyn 4 years ago

Loved that movie. Loved this post. I’m glad you “took advantage” of what was suppose to be one last day of vacation… but I agree, sometimes you need the kids in school so you can get a few things done.

Mrs. Jen B 4 years ago

My brother is starting his first day of senior year next week. Maybe. If the teachers don’t go on strike, which they may do seeing as how their contract is up today. My poor mom is at her wit’s end – she just wants to get it over with already!

imperfectmomma 4 years ago

Oh I hate that movie….wait…is that the one w Ben Affleck? Ugh. Hate him. Anyways, that is weird schools were closed. I hate when schools close over here for like a centimeter of snow. Dont know how that relates…but hey now you know! Anyhow, hope you get a normal house soon

Marta 4 years ago

Even if its a mediocre Hollywood way, I love that movie. I just love the concept of how different one’s life could be if one moment changed. I love thinking of what those moments in my life would be.

Hope they get back to school soon!

Kim at Let Me Start By Saying 4 years ago

A hurricane and then you have to deal with cancelled school 2 days in a row? Now, that’s just not fair.
I, too, have had those secret suprise sliding-door days that turn out way sweeter than expected. But when it’s time for school, it’s time for school. I love you, kids, but please go away for a few hours.
May Baltimore G&E get their shizz together, stat.

Krista 4 years ago

Hey, any day you get to have your favorite icecream ranks right up there at the top of my list! Are the kids super excited to be off another day or are they at that wonderful age where they want to go back to school?

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

Thank you. Because, at this rate, the kids aren’t going to be in school until freaking October.

Alison@Mama Wants This 4 years ago

Um. Yes, yes it is. Nov 1 is AGES away. More than a blink of an eye. *ahem*

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

I need to have my book written by Nov 1, so bite your tongue. It’s, like, YEARS away. RIGHT?!?!?

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

Oh, you poor thing. We finally got our Comcast back yesterday, so I really shouldn’t complain. No water? Ugh.

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

That’s so cute!

And, exactly! I’d understand if the city were floating or something, but it’s just ridiculous. Can’t they learn outside in a field or something?!

Scary Mommy 4 years ago

That’s exactly it- they used to tell you before, but got sick of the calls and complaints. They post lists the first day- so dramatic!

Leslie 4 years ago

Our schools were cancelled on the first two days too. We had a wind storm that knocked over a bunch of trees and the power to some of the schools. I had the same feeling, like it was all a big joke! Hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow. I’ll keep my fingers and toes crossed for you.

Nina 4 years ago

Here’s what stuck out for me in this post–they don’t tell you the teacher before the first day?!?!?! Our school tells us just a week before and don’t give a class list, which is highly annoying because then we all spend the next few days texting to figure out who is in the class. But kudos to your school (sort of) for literally not allowing parents to complain beforehand!

Seriously Sassy Mama 4 years ago

It is definitely time for back to school. Mine have been back for almost two week. Just the 3 year old and I at home now. Glorious.

Arnebya 4 years ago

DC schools started 8/22. We’ve officially missed two days from an earthquake and a hurricane. The hell?! In all honesty, aside from damages, I don’t see WHY your schools are still closed, Jill. I mean, safety first, but is EVERY school unusable? Interesting. I had a similar Sliding Doors moment on Monday, my normal day off. Since Zoe’s school was closed (no electricity just like our house) she got to irritate, wait, hang, with me all day. That evening, although we did nothing special at all, she said she’d had a great day “without those interpreters stealing my attention.” Aw. But, um, interpreters? Yes, people who get in the way when you don’t want them to. Oh! Interlopers. THAT made MY day.

Deb 4 years ago

OMG, I am dying here. They are SO meant to be in school!!!!!!! Enough!

Alicia 4 years ago

sounds like y’all had a great time yesterday! but, i know what you mean about planning to get things done and then your plans dont work out! hubs left with the stroller in his car this morning and now i am totally stuck at the house with our 8 week old! oh well! we will have fun anyway!

anna ~ random handprints 4 years ago

I love that you made the most of an unexpected day off from school, and also could not agree more that an extra, extra unexpected day is just.too.much.

i remember tweeting with you in the eerie early morning while the hurricane was in full force, but now that seems like a faded memory.

my town is still without water and very few have power back. i am not even going to try and pick the movie title which will explain my feelings when our kids don’t start school on time either.

Alison@Mama Wants This 4 years ago

I think you did good with the unexpected no-school day, and I hope you will have another good one today. All too soon, the kids will be back in school and then, Christmas will be here in a blink of an eye! (ack)

Galit Breen 4 years ago

I love that movie {Not mediocre! I haven’t seen it in years, but I’m sure it’s still fabulous, right?} and I love this post.

Makes me want to gather up my sweeties right now. And eat ice cream. But that’s another story!


By Word of Mouth Musings 4 years ago

Was just talking about that movie … my life is like that many days.
Filled with what if, but most days grateful for the what is …
Hope you get your house back to ‘normal’ soon!