Early Onset Exhaustion: End of School Edition

Mamas, I entered this year, like many of you, with the highest of hopes. The most organized of calendars (and the best of intentions to keep it that way). With every form completed, permission slip handed in on time, and project completed in advance. Back in September, I was basically SuperMom.

But now – it’s May.

And you guys, I have nothing left to give. 

I know that sounds dramatic – but the Mom I am in September is not the Mom I am in May. It’s not that I don’t still try – I’ll show up and smile and applaud my child and her accomplishments – it’s just so hard. I’m so tired. Do I have to attend another thing? I can’t plan another play date. Don’t make me bake another batch of anything. Someone send help!

End of school means the end of basically everything, all at the same time. There are major school projects, sports tournaments, dance recitals, choir concerts, final plays, et cetera, and so on, ad nauseum. All within a few weeks of each other. I forget this, every year – I think my subconscious tries to protect me from it – by, well, forgetting about it entirely. And then I come up on May, and all of a sudden the calendar looks like a dumpster fire. What is happening? Who will help us? Do I really have to attend all these events? 

Well, yes. With a smile and probably a baked good in hand.
Pull it together, lady. 

Back to School Me was so good. I miss her. I miss her optimism and the way she wore real clothes and a bra every day. I miss how she made lunches the night before and how her to-do list was always caught up. End of School Me is scrambling to fill the summer hours with appropriate activities and childcare, because as always, summer snuck up on me. Last week I forgot about a field trip – just straight up did not send my child to school with appropriate footwear OR a disposable lunch. It wasn’t for lack of caring or reminder emails from the teacher – I think I’m just out of brain space for these things. I’m tapped out. I have early onset exhaustion.

This year in particular has been ripe with social discord and lessons to be learned about having and being a good friend. Third grade is just one of those seminal years where things start happening. Girls are mean. Friendships are hard. It’s been a whole thing. And we’ve navigated it pretty well, I think! We have had the right conversations – the hard ones. We planned play dates with new friends when she needed a break from the old ones, and our third grader has juggled her various friendships successfully all year. They are all currently speaking to each other (regularly, on my phone) which I consider a victory. 

But now? I don’t have another play date in me. Where before I called the other mom and sweetly invited her child to my home from one specific time until another specific time, now I send my kid over to their house to see what’s up over there. I don’t think twice about letting her roam the neighborhood knocking on doors (the ones she knows, calm down) until she finds a friend. Let me know where you are, then come back whenever, I say. Feel free to bring them here, but FYI, I don’t have any snacks. My kid thinks this is the best – this newfound independent socializing – and I nod along and say yes, of course, I’m teaching you something. It’s definitely not that I don’t have it in me to be involved anymore. It’s the independence thing.

I don’t know what ancient magic happens over the summer to rejuvenate us into Back to School Moms, but it happens, every year. By September I’ll be ready again to sign permission slips and remember when class picture day is and buy birthday presents BEFORE we’re already on the way to the party. But for now – it’s May. The home stretch. The final countdown. The hardest month of the year. We will make it through Field Day and Recital Week to Summer Camps and Lazy Mornings and Screen Time.

Better days are coming. Days that require less organization on my part.

And then, like robots who undergo an annual reboot mid-August, we’ll back-to-school shop, express excitement we’re not even faking, and wear real clothes and a bra to the First Day of School activities. We’ll happily socialize through the Ice Cream Social and plan a little sleepover and make waffles for breakfast and volunteer in the classroom. We’ll forget all about the impending doom of May, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth that comes with it.

If we remembered what was coming, we might head for the hills – but that ancient Mom magic makes it so we continue to show up each year.

Back to School Moms in all our glory. Ready for another year ahead.

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