Right around the end of August is when I start to get anxious. Competing demands and urges pull me in opposing directions: I want to suck out that last, sweet juice of summer with my family, yet I am excited to stop hearing the phrase “Mama, I’m bored!” And I feel the pressure of the changing season — shop for new shoes and jackets, arrange fall soccer schedules, try to locate a hip-hop class for our youngest (“Beyond ballet") and navigate the Olympic sport of school-supply shopping.
On that topic, by the way, I guiltily confess here for all to witness: This year I ordered some of the supplies online (collective gasp). I love supporting the local, family-friendly businesses in our communities, but there is just something about battling crowds in endless aisles for a four-pack (not a six-pack or a three-pack, mind you) of black Sharpies or a mysteriously elusive Fiskars children’s scissors that chills me to the bone. We’ll make it up by buying our clothes locally, I really, truly swear.
In my family, the end of summer is also a time of reflection about how much our kids have grown. With summer’s height gains, pants are flooding. Moods rise and fall, too, as we break through the double-digit tween barrier with our eldest. Meanwhile, it seems a million years ago that our youngest daughter clung to my leg every single morning at preschool, screaming bloody murder for me to not leave her (if you are still in that heart-wrenching phase, get some expert advice: “Drop-off drama"). One bittersweet marker: A few weeks ago, we decided it was time to pass on my daughters’ wooden outdoor playhouse (the sale reflected everything that is insane about the Pacific Northwest’s housing market: After posting the playhouse on my local parents’ listserv, bids started coming in above the asking price).
Time passes more quickly than we think, I realized as I watched that playhouse carted off to its new toddler owner on the back of a flatbed trailer. In a blink, we’ve passed beyond juggling baby naps and kindergarten demands (“Tandem parenting") and moved into worrying about things like math curriculum (“Crunching the numbers"), Internet use and social dramas. Pretty soon I will be worrying about college applications, it seems, so I try to stop rushing and enjoy the now. As we move into the hectic school season, let’s all remember to stay sane and present.