Schedule pediatrician appointments, make haircut appointments, new shoes all around, soccer sign-ups x2, submit medical forms x3, check cafeteria accounts, schedule tumbling lessons, parent info meeting, register for gymnastics (on real computer, not mobile friendly), meet the teacher, potty-train the three-year-old in a week since I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t know that’s a requirement for k3 at his school, move cat’s litter box closer to back door in next phase of Project Ditch the Litter Box and pray she begins exclusively going outside without reverting to going in the sink in the half-bath;
Check school uniforms (order more—you know you’ll have to), buy more socks (what do they do to these things?), pick golf clinic day, find rides for cheerleading clinic, continue search for ‘cute’ zippered binder, replace terrible, sequin backpack from Justice last year that ‘broke’ (thank you, Lord), pay deposit for dance, turn in bank draft for...all the things, dentist appointments, class tea parties, class ice cream party, schedule tennis lessons and join junior USTA online, look into after-school piano for child #3 who has burning desire to play piano as of today, find lunchboxes, wash backpacks;
Clip fingernails/toenails x4, plot extra-curricular activities on a grid, draw said grid first, charge phone in preparation for carpool planning marathon that will follow the plotting of activities on a grid, check coffee inventory so it can lie to me about all the things I will accomplish today, buy actual food if there’s time, plan to cook dinner at least once this week while under the influence of coffee, order take-out for dinner when coffee wears off, don’t shower in the morning because you ARE going to exercise today and have the workout clothes on to prove it, give self a pep talk in shower at 10 p.m. about how you are definitely going to exercise tomorrow since it didn’t happen today, make ‘First Day of School’ signs x4 in order to continue tradition begun when only one kid was in school and with zero forethought for how said tradition would multiply later;
Text school-mom friends in each kids’ grade to ask what I’m forgetting, add ‘binge-watch The Office to my list because my friend, Story, is appalled that I’ve never watched it, write column—scratch that, submit to-do list as explanation for no column this week, what am I forgetting? OH YEAH! Prepare for the flippin’ puppy that my husband is bringing home the same day the kids start school, stock up on supplies to deal with puppy-potty-training accidents (just to recap: that’s a human, a cat, and a puppy that I will be potty-training at the same time), schedule marriage counseling to address addition of puppy to family at most inopportune time, look for the positivity in life so you don’t turn angry and bitter: say a prayer of thanks that all of this is available to my kids, then one for the accomplished to-do lists of the teachers and administrators who make it possible for my children to go learn things away from me all school year;
Then a prayer of protection and patience for their teachers because me and Jesus both know they’re gonna need it, then one for all the teachers leaving their babies to teach my babies, another for those who wish they could go back to these days and those who wish they could get to these days, one for the nervous parents and the anxious kiddos, one for the kids who came home from their first day of school last week to missing parents after the I.C.E. raids, refuse to give in to urge to argue about immigration with people on the internet and repeat mantra ‘Compassion first, let’s show compassion for our fellow children of God’, say another prayer for the first-time teachers and the first-year babies and mamas of seniors sending them off for the beginning of the end of this chapter and the parents sending freshmen off to new beginnings, and one for the friends wishing time would slow down for reasons ranging from kids growing up too fast to parents aging and weakening too soon.
Maybe I should start at the end of this list so the rest of it feels more like things to be grateful for and less like things trying to make me lose my mind. Here’s to a new school year full of bright beginnings and the beginning of hard endings and giving ourselves the grace to complain, a little, about the headache part of it all before reading between the lines of our to-do lists for the gratitude hidden in plain sight.
Elizabeth Quinn makes her home in Northeast Jackson with her husband Percy and four children.