Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Days of School

I'm actually a few weeks behind posting this; school began in early August in these parts.

Before I post the gratuitous first day of school photos, I wanted to share a little of how last year's school year went down.

First, you need to know I am a night owl. I'd argue this is genetic; my parents were night owls before me, and I have no idea about my grandparents. I'm also a bit of an insomniac--there has to be the perfect combination of things in order for me to easily fall asleep. Being a mother of six with a husband who not only talks in his slumber, but acts out his dreams... Well, you can imagine how many nights I have no trouble getting shut-eye.

So, early mornings are not so much my thing.

Four of my six kids were in school last year--all veterans of the school system with the youngest of the four being in 3rd grade. We lived in an area where they all had to be bussed to school. Also, the start times for my middle schoolers and grade schoolers were pretty disparate. The middle schoolers were off to school before my grade schoolers even had to be up. (And most days, my husband didn't have to get ready for work until at least an hour after the school-aged kiddos were off.)

In the beginning, I crawled out of bed and sort of supervised (with one eye open) the morning school prep--getting dressed to the shoes, grabbing some cereal or toast, etc. Once they were out the door, I'd crawl back into bed and sleep until either my husband needed a ride to work (if I needed the car that day) or my two youngest woke me up to fix them breakfast.

I can't say when it happened, somewhere in the middle of the school year, but I overslept one morning--right through the kids' morning preparations. Frantic, I checked their bedrooms, prepared to do the walk of shame with them at their respective schools, and I discovered that all of them had gotten themselves off to the bus stop just fine. (When you think about it, that means my then 4th and 3rd graders got up on their own, got dressed, fed themselves, and kept track of time in order to not be late for the bus--all by themselves.)

I overslept more and more often until it became the usual thing for my kids to get ready for school and out the door on their own. Yeah, I'm definitely not winning any mom awards for last year.

Contrast this year: I have 5 monkeys in school now. We've since moved to where the schools are within short walking distance (the elementary school is across the street).

The night before the first day of school (for the older four--kindergarten started a few days later), I got very little sleep. Roughly an hour. This due to a project deadline I had to meet (I have, in the past, freelanced graphic design on occasion). It would have been so easy to let the big kids take care of themselves--they have the experience--but that kind of lazy parenting does not fit the new life I'm carving out for myself.

So, I crawled out of bed when my alarm went off, but then I faked being chipper. I faked it hard. Not only did I help them get ready and make sure they ate something, I held a morning family devotional despite all the cock-eyed looks my kids gave me. I took photos. I stood on the porch as they walked to school (fortunately all of them leave at the same time now) and waved and yelled "I love you!" like a good embarrassing mom.

And I have been up with them every morning this way since--no matter how much sleep I've gotten the night before--because I want them to know that Mom cares, that they are more important to me than sleeping in late.


From left to right: Lee-lee (8th grade), Banana (7th grade), Little E (5th grade) & G-man (4th grade)
Lee-Lee had me chop off her long locks the night before the first day of school. She looks so grown-up!
Banana is my "cool" kid.

Little E always strikes funny poses. You should see his Easter photos when he was 6. Total GQ.

G-man and his faux-hawk. This is the only day he's worn his hair like this. The rest of the time, he's got it plain-old spiky.
Princess started Kindergarten a few days after her older siblings. The first few days, she told me school was boring. Lately, though, it's "awesome!"

C-bear is not going to school this year--not even preschool. But she wanted in on the photo action anyway. (And yes, that is her backpack, purchased because Mommy decided spending 10 bucks on a Disney princess backpack was better than breaking a 3-year-old's heart.)