Running late as usual, I recently took my son to his Parents Day Out orientation. The director asked if I had a specific form ready and filled out. Like a deer in headlights, I asked her what form she was referring to. She kindly replied that she had e-mailed it out but would give me a hard copy. Translation: “Bless your little heart, you need all the help you can get. Here you go.”
Last school year, my daughter met me at her classroom door at the end of the day and turned to tell her teacher goodbye. I told her we looked forward to seeing her the next day, to which she replied that there was no school due to conferences. What? Yep, I would have been that parent.
If I had a dollar for every time I have left my daughter’s backpack, jacket, or another necessary item at home, I would be living on a yacht. You are probably thinking, “Cut yourself some slack! We all do these things!” But my former teacher self would disagree with you there.
You see, when I was teaching, pre-children, I was the perfect parent. I could not wrap my mind around how or why parents managed to forget everything. I mean, if it’s cold, send your child a jacket. Or if it was P.E. day, flip flops weren’t going to work. Closed. Toed. Shoes. I also could not understand how moms and dads could not get their children to school on time– was it that hard to get out the door? When homework would be incomplete, I was baffled because it should have only taken 5-10 minutes out of the evening. It’s not like weeknights are chaotic for families, right? Or filling out a reading log? These things are just not hard. Just do it.
And then a funny thing happened: I became an actual mom and these things started to happen to me, too. Getting to school on time, especially after having my second baby, was a professional sport. I remember a parent who habitually rushed her son into school late with wet hair, lugging her infant daughter in her car seat. Now when I think about that poor mom, I applaud her for at least showering. One step ahead of me.
The most minor school preschool projects seem like a dissertation. Do teachers think we have unlimited time to do these things? Once I get dinner made and kids bathed, I feel like I deserve a medal. Completing an activity after a long day may be the straw that breaks the mama camel’s back. And this is with just one child in school. Little did my pre-children teacher self know that most families do, in fact, have more than one child at home, and each kid has deadlines and expectations. No wonder my students’ assignments would get lost, forgotten, or turned in late.
I can remember kids coming to school looking like they had gotten dressed in the dark. What parent lets their child go to school looking so mismatched? Now I know exactly what happened. That mom or dad probably gave up years ago on the morning battle of the clothing. Good for them. I, too, have joined the ranks of the “wear whatever you want” club, and I’m sure my kids’ teachers will think the same thoughts I did. Go ahead and judge. Karma is coming for you in the form of glitter, character clothing, and rain boots.
Life was easier when I knew it all. It was easier when I could think in hypothetical and futuristic terms as a parent. Then, parenthood actually happened. I thought I understood my students’ parents back in the day, but I had no clue. I had no clue they were doing the best they could and some days it was just a win to make it to the school parking lot. “Once I had my own kids,” I thought, I would be the most “on top of it” parent any teacher had ever seen. The moment I had my first child, the playing field was leveled. I was brought down to where the rest of real moms are: tired people who love their kids fiercely, want the best for them, and are just trying to remember if there is school tomorrow.