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May 17, 2008

Dispatches from the Suburbs

The Tarts are delighted to welcome back guest blogger Jennifer Vido, whose "Jen's Jewels" column at FreshFiction.com is one of our favorite places to read about books.  Jen's here to tell us what's up with life in the suburbs lately.  No surprise as the school year winds to a close, it has a lot to do with those kidlets!  You can also visit Jen at her website.


Dispatches from the Suburbs -- The Mom Lifestyle

The majority of Americans look forward to Daylight Savings time for the simple fact that it brings the countdown to summer.  Those days when you skip work due to that supposed cold which can only be remedied by spending an afternoon on the golf course rather than in the boardroom.  Yes, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Of course all of this is well and good unless you happen to be in that special category that is marked with three simple letters -- M-O-M.  Then, I'm sorry to say, you're totally exempt from this sickness.  For us moms, Daylight Savings Time signifies one thing and one thing only . . . .the dreaded end of the school year.

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not lamenting over the prospect of having our sons at home with me 24/7, all summer, every day, rain or shine.  (That's a topic for another blog, my friends.)  No, I'm talking about all of the obligatory school functions that never seem to end.  I don't know about you, but I'm finding that I hardly have enough time to get things done.  And if that's not bad enough, the teachers feel the need to assign twice the amount of homework in an attempt to complete their curriculum by June.

Take for instance my son's middle school social studies class.  I am sure that many of you can remember (with agony) your child's first research project.  You know -- the one that requires a zillion note cards, a complete sentence outline, and my all-time favorite, the tri-fold display board.  Honestly, by the time it was completed, I swear Julius Caesar wound up becoming the fifth member of our family.  This project was a valuable learning tool, but quite frankly it was also a painful lesson in time management for the entire family.


Besides schoolwork, springtime also brings many other obligations.  This is what the past month looked like at our house.  We had two first communions, a baptism, three family birthday parties, the required spring school concert, lacrosse practice and games, the social studies fair, a walk-a-thon for the Arthritis Foundation, scouts, and sign-ups for summer camps.  That's just a sampling of what's been happening.  Whew!  I'm exhausted just writing about it!

But then on Friday, it finally dawned on me.  As I was sitting in my son's first grade classroom enjoying the Mother's Day Tea, I realized that it would be my last.  Next year, he'll be in second grade, where Mother's Day Teas are no longer celebrated. My older son will be in seventh grade, a step closer to high school, where hugs will no longer be readily accepted.  And I stopped and asked myself this question . . What's the hurry?  Even though I'm tired and I have ugly bags under my eyes, this is my life.  And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

So now, as I prepare for my Herculean work, I listen to that little voice in my head reminding me that this too shall pass, and all too soon.  Within a blink of an eye, I'll be reminiscing with my husband about these crazy days when it was such a struggle to keep my head above water.  And yes, a lonely tear will run down my cheek as I wish that I could have it all back.


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Jen, when you feel that lonely tear gathering volume in your eye, pour yourself a glass of wine, fill the tub with salts and bubbles, and grab a good book...then slide in and relax without worrying how long it will be till the next kid barges through the bathroom door.

Jen, I know just how you feel. Last night, I attended the pre-prom reception for my older daughter, who will be going into twelfth grade next year. It seems like just yesterday, I was putting her on the bus for her first day of kindergarten and last night, I was watching her get out of a limo for the reception and sending her off to the prom. Bittersweet? Yes. Would I trade that moment for anything? Not on your life. Motherhood is grand.

Jen, I am so glad someone said that out loud. All of it. Springtime brings longer day, which means NOT that there are more hours in the day to get things done, but that your children are awake for more of them. The school projects are parent homework. And all the events thrown in at the end of the year are overwhelming. A friend once said this to me, there will always be things to do, good and bad, but hold your children everyday and let them know how much you love them. So even when you've had a horrible day, possibly helped along by one of your children, hold on to the moments when they tell you "I love you" and/or "you're the best mom".

I know just what you mean. The days are endless, the years fly by. My kids are 8 and 12 (almost the same as yours) but I'm already so sad about them growing up and leaving home that I have to make plans for fun things to do when that time comes. Most of the plans involve living in exotic places where you wouldn't raise your kids, and they always cheer me up.

Beautiful blog, Jen!

Okay, when my kids went off to college and cried and cried and cried. But an hour later, I pulled myself together and found we were in another wonderful new time of life. It's not just those elementary school years that are worth savoring--it's all miraculous and fun.

Almost a Gramma in PA!

Amen, Jen!

We're having a month like yours with the first communions and birthdays -and end of school picnics and assemblies and then graduations.

I always look forward to the end of school. We are extaordinarily blessed that we get along so well - all four of us - so summer is great because there's more time to laugh and play, and less time spent badgering about projects.

Thanks for visiting TLC and for a great blog - and welcome to anyone new who popped in to read Jen - be sure to come back - we have a lot of fun on this blog.

Hey Jen-

Oh yeah, May is nuts--and when my sons were in school I was also teaching so I felt the double-whammy. But. Now they are in college and I find myself getting a bit misty when I drive past their old elementary school and see all the kids pouring out at 3. The days crawl but the years fly. Enjoy them all. And open the wine.

My students and I also used to remark on how fast the school year came to an end, even though some days felt like years. Grab onto some memories to keep safe.
I don't miss the frantic pace at the end of the year, the frenzy that inspired a colleague's husband to coin the phrase, "Don't mess with your mom in May." Another colleague always assured us that, "It will all get done by (final work day). How? I don't know, but it always does." (and it always did)
Our elementary schools are on a year-round schedule, 9 weeks + 3 weeks break X four, which is good for the young ones to hold onto their hard-won lessons. However, it makes some problems for scheduling with the traditional schedule of the higher grades, so many of the high school teachers live in other districts so they can have their young children free all summer with them.

About Mr. Typepad --- How do we feel about him splitting comments up in sections? I'm getting tired of pressing "next" and "previous" -- is it really necessary?

I wish I knew how to fix it, Mary. Do we stage a coup at Typepad?

I like the sound of that, Nancy. . .but then I am an unreformed campus radical. Whose office do we sit-in? Be sure to bring snacks!

Yep, the years fly by so fast. I suddenly realized that not only are all my kids out of school, the youngest one has only a year left of college. When did that happen? I remember my father-in-law telling me, when I was griping about all the kid functions that we had to do, to relax and enjoy it because they would be all grown up in another week or two. He was so right!

Nancy, being a grandmother is the best! I wish you and your daughter the best good luck for a happy and healthy little one.

Nancy, I'm with you (except for the grandparent part--that's not going to happen any time soon). I loved it when the boys were little and I love it just as much now.

Oh, Jen, you are singing my song.

A friend e-mailed me with a casual, "whatcha doin' today? Relaxing?" and I e-mailed back:

"Two kids' parties, wash the car, laundry, pick up one child from sleepover, buy present, wrap present, drive 40 miles, Costco, do paperwork, post office, drop kids at their dad's, pay bills, exercise, meditate, make phone calls, answer e-mails, read a script, work on lesson plans for next month's class I'm teaching, walk the dogs, work on child-sharing calendar for next month, take a nap, stick to diet, read my book-club book, work on screenplay, get house spotless in case any spontaneous buyers show up."

I'm signing up the kids for camp. A friend asked, "are your kids still into camp? Mine are outgrowing it." Mine are not allowed to outgrow it until they're 18.

Glad to see you here!

I am so glad that you all can relate. After writing my blog entry, I poured myself a glass of iced tea and took a moment to savor the solitude. Today, I am off in a million directions and enjoying the craziness of it all.

With all the rain we've had, I've had to be prepared for sports, only to have them cancelled. How am I supposed to plan for dinner with that monkey wrench--Jen I know you would say "take out", right?

The school projects we've done lately (love the "we") got comlicated because one mom told me she was helping her son do a scrapbook, and I mean scrapbook for his assignment. Not to be outdone, I had to let my kids use my expensive scrapbook paraphernalia and "assist' them doing it right. Both got "A"s. I'm patting myself on the back while figuring out how I'm supposed to get two boys to two separate sporting events at the same time and my husband has a night meeting, plus I'm dragging a toddler along who is refusing to be potty-trained. I have until September preschool, but summer is going to be crazy.

I thought summer was supposed to be relaxing, but visiting family is NOT relaxing. We're doing the fun trip to OC and then we're doing a road trip which will cover 8 states to get to Baton Rouge for the great-grandparents, Tennessee for my parents and Virginia for another great-grandmother. At least, the cost of gas is usually cheaper in the South, but what's cheap these days when it comes to gas?

Even more expenses for the summer are my oldest's orthodontia, my dental implant, new glasses, two boys have their annual physicals, regular dental visits for the whole family--it just never ends. The stimulus check paid for what the insurance didn't.

Oh, but this is supposed to be about the end of the school year. Why in the world do they schedule the field trips in late May and early June, along with the concerts, sports, "Olympic Day" and everything else? And, they had Spring pictures yesterday--what's with that? I better stop and smell the roses, or maybe black-eyed susans (for Preakness) and enjoy it now, because 20 years from now they'll all be gone and on their own--I hope! :)

Denise, field trips break the monotony of waiting for the end of the school year. Students love the change of venue (and teachers also), and having a treat to look forward to "encourages" better behavior.
I was looking in the library catalog for _Everybody Poops_ as an aid to pottytraining (I actually first saw it in the ladies' room of a lovely but eclectic restaurant) -- I couldn't find it, but I'm pretty sure of the title.
I did find " The poopsmith song"
-- -- Nettwerk Records
Title -- For the kids three! -- [sound recording].
Publisher Information Hollywood, CA : -- Nettwerk Records, -- p2007.
General Note "Proceeds benefit Vh1 Save the Music Foundation [and] The Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach, an Arts Umbrella Project"--Disc label.
General Note Compact disc.
It also has "Barenaked Ladies"?? more harrassment?

Wow - I knew this one would generate a lot of "me toos" - I read it this a.m. before all the comments were posted, then proceeded to take 2 kids to swim practice while hubby took the other one to band performance for city festival. I did carve out 2 hours to meet my new "coach" at the YMCA and get set up on a new fitness regime - before taking one of the girls for a hair cut so she could look beautiful for the "big end of school party" tonight which we'll be driving them to later! Jen's energy inspires me on a daily basis - I want to cherish each busy day, but need to find time to take care of me so that I can actually enjoy the busy-ness of life with a little energy left at the end of the day! Thanks for reminding us, Jennifer, that we don't really want life to go by so fast!

Jen's energy is phenomenal and a real inspiration to the rest of us. Often I feel that I am on a warp speed roller coaster and that those moments that seemed endless when my girls were young passed in a blink and then were gone. I love being a grandmom and endlessly playing tea party with 3 year old Ella. It is all the sweeter now because I know it is not forever and I want to hold on dearly. Yes, let's make a pact that we will enjoy each and every moment to its fullest.


Thanks for explaining why they wait so long for field trips--it's just the first time ours schools have waited this long--usually March or April.

I do have a copy of everybody poops around here somehwere from the older boys.

And I do love BNL's (BareNakedLadies) music, too.

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