All over the web you can find stories and pictures of moms celebrating the return to school or moms lamenting that their kids don’t go back until after Labor Day. Meanwhile I’m over here just as upset as my kids that school is starting the day after tomorrow. Really, I just hate the end of summer.
Of course, I’m not letting on that I hate this time of year as much as they do. That wouldn’t be seemly. No, I’m being all upbeat for them about how great it is! New friends! New teachers! Cool learning! Wheeeee!
One of them mastered making mac and cheese in the Instant pot this summer. And she keeps baking us treats. And they’re chilling with their friends and sharing jokes and stories. And they’re just kinda fun to have around all the time.
2. I’m going to miss the flexibility of being able to just go do something fun if we want.
Ice cream. Day trips to the beach. Target. The pool. Just chilling downtown. Lunches at Chipotle. All on a whim or at a moment’s notice. I mean, duh, I can still do these things, but it’s less fun without the kids. Turns out, the people at Baskin Robbins look at you funny if you order all the candy toppings when you’re on your own.
3. I loathe the increased anxiety for the older kid and everything that comes with it.
Social Anxiety is a bitch. And in the summer it takes a bit of a break. Then in the fall it comes back with a vengeance. School is HARD for a kid who finds crowds stressful. Like, really, really hard. Especially when those crowds are stuck in a classroom for prescribed amounts of time and you can’t really escape. The emotional upheaval has to get dealt with at home and it’s a strain on the whole family.
4. I looooooathe homework.
There. I said it. I’m one of the moms who thinks that there should never, ever be any homework. Because it gets in the way of our afternoon ice cream outings. And also because it’s a dumb waste of time, energy and stress. Especially for moms.
5. I despise packing lunches.
Oh, the bliss of not having to pack lunches for the last 9 weeks. It’s been amazing.
No, my kids won’t eat sandwiches or anything else that can be prepped ahead of time.
Yes, they’ll eat the same. exact. lunch I’ve been packing for them since they started elementary school.
No, I don’t think I’ll ever stop hating this chore. Nor will I ever feel wealthy enough to just throw in the towel and get them hot lunch.
Please don’t suggest I make them pack their own lunches. The stress mentioned in #3 is already enough for me to deal with.
6. I struggle with a mix of feelings about having my workload pretty much doubles with volunteer stuff.
Because I LIKE the volunteer stuff I do, but there’s rather a lot of it and it’s quite overwhelming at the start of the year. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Because it’s not PC for me to hate volunteering and also it’s an important part of my kids’ education.
7. It’s kinda the start of a new year and that comes with its own baggage.
Like the kind that makes you take stock of personal achievements and come up lacking. I mean, what have you accomplished lately? Huh? Well, probably more than me. But that’s ok, I still love you.
8. It’s almost the end of the year and that comes with its own baggage.
The start of school seems to be the international signal for the start of the race to the finish. The race to win the whole year. From a business perspective. A frenzy to MEET ALL THE GOALS! MAKE ALL THE SALES! PROMOTE ALL THE THINGS!
Dude, I’m exhausted just thinking about it and so far I’m only just getting wind of the increased work-load on my end.
But it’s not all bad. At least I get to go school supply shopping and soon, really, really soon, the Pumpkin Spice Lattes will be back. Hush now, a mom has to take her joy where she can find it.
At dinner the other night, C peered at her fingers, counting up something that apparently needed intense concentration. Triumphantly she looked up and said “In 10 years I’ll be 17!”
Her point — that she’d be old enough to babysit then — was utterly lost on her father and me. All we heard was “10 years” and “17” and our hearts skipped beats. Of course at that moment she rolled her eyes at us proving effectively that she’s well on her way to teenagehood.
10 years, you say, that’s aeons away. Plenty of time!
But anyone who’s a parent knows, 10 years flies by in the blink of an eye.
And why is it such a big deal?
Well, I can’t speak for M, but for me, 17 was when I…
went off to college. (Oh get your head out of the gutter. Where did you think this was going?)
OK fine. Technically I graduated from high school when I was 17. A month later, weeks before college started I turned 18, but it’s close enough! And no, I’m not worried about C not doing well in college. That kid could go tomorrow and she’d probably teach her dormmates a thing or two about how to follow rules and how to try harder. It’s just that college in the US isn’t quite what it is in France.
Let me put it this way. Annual tuition at my school was… wait for it… $200.
No, that’s not a typo. I went to a state funded school, which over there means a sight more than it does over here.
I lived at home, I majored in English Lit so my textbooks were just… well… books… and even our cafeteria was state funded.
I put myself through school by babysitting and being a booth babe at tradeshows. I graduated with a Masters, no debt to speak of, and an interesting assortment of weirdly colored lipsticks. (Don’t ask. It’s a booth babe thing.)
So here we are, Stateside, with two daughters who are bright, but not quite geniouses. They’ll eventually go to college. And, even if we convince them that it’s Super Cool! to go to community college for a couple years before transfering to a 4 year college to finish their degrees, we’re still looking at exorbitant amounts of cash needing to be shelled out in, well, apparently 10 years.
Yes, clearly we could move to France in the nick of time, but I’d have to start speaking a little more French at home and really, since I’ve been meaning to do that for 7 years now and haven’t quite gotten around to it, odds are that isn’t happening soon.
And since I’ve just realized that my rather sizable Kindle book collection and stash of oddly assorted yarns won’t be worth much more in 2022 than they are now, we really need to make some headway when it comes to saving for college.
We’re in good company. Most parents don’t start saving for college as soon as their children are born even though studies show that starting to save early works. “California Parents who have been saving more than 10 years have set aside an average of $25,193. That compares to $14,733 for those saving 6-10 years and $4,663 for those saving five years or less.” (Source: ScholarShare California Statewide Survey, 2012)
The other night, at a dinner hosted by Scholarshare, California’s 529 college savings program, someone mentioned that they don’t believe that they’ll be able to save enough to entirely cover their children’s tuition, but they feel good about lowering their kids’ future debt by whatever amount they can.
It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. The most daunting part of saving for college for me has always been the feeling that it had to be all or nothing. And all is a lot. The realization that what we save, any amount, will be helpful, was a relief.
In California, recognizing that a staggering 83% of the population believes college to be “very important,” but 53% are concerned about their ability to pay for school, Scholarshare is doing their best to help families set up savings accounts.
ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plans makes it easier than ever for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to melt their financial stress away with a quick and simple gift that is sure to be used years after you give it – the gift of a college education. ScholarShare makes last minute holiday gift giving easy and painless.Through the “Give a Gift” option on its website, www.Scholarshare.com, any gift giver can open an account for children of all ages for as little as $25. And if your favorite loved one is already on the path to college with ScholarShare, you can contribute to an existing account with the “Gift of Education Certificate,” allowing for a personal message to be included for the beneficiary.
$25 can get your child a cool new Wii game, but it can also set her on the path to graduating debt free from college and starting a life off on great footing. Makes you think, right? And when you consider the tax break that you’ll be getting come tax time, it seems like a win/win kind of holiday gift to consider.
Please note: I am being compensated by Scholarshare to share this information with you. The money will most likely go straight into the 529 plans I will be opening for both girls this holiday season. The stories and opinions contained in this post are mine and mine alone.
Have you ever found yourself standing at a crossroad? Virtual or real, it’s all the same really.
You’re there and there are options. And you can really go in any direction, because, what’s to stop you?
Do you take the path expected of you? Dictated by life, circumstance, societal expectations?
Do you take the path that calls to your heart? Dictated by childhood dreams and hopes?
How about the path that calls to your head? The rational path. The one that makes sense financially, feasibly, logically? The one that works for your whole family even if it denies the path your heart would take?
It’s paralyzing, the crossroad. While you’re standing there it’s so tempting to turn around and just go back the way you came, down the known road, back to where you understand what’s expected of you and what you need to do to meet those expectations. That known road calls to you like a cozy comforter waiting to wrap you up in certainty and soothe you with familiarity.
At the same time, it’s also exciting that crossroad. Adventure awaits after that first step. Adventure fraught with surprises and challenges, sure, but who doesn’t crave some adventure in their lives, even at cost? Isn’t that why we read, to live adventure and uncertainty vicariously? When you stand at the crossroads yourself there’s no need for vicarious living any more. Experiences can come first hand.
The problem with all of the road options that face us at the crossroads is that each comes with a toll.
What will you have to give up when you head in one direction? Which dreams will suffer or be need tossed all together?
Sadly the roads can’t all be taken at once. Choices have to be made.
So how do you choose which dreams to forfeit so that new futures can be forged? How do you let go of resentment when you feel pushed down one road and dreams are being forfeited for you? Does putting your whole heart into the path you chose help release that resentment? Does letting go of childhood expectations help?
Crossroads are funny, paralyzing places. They’re terrifying to stand in, and even scarier to leave.
Have thoughts about Crossroads of your own? Hop on over. That’s the Kick in the Blog topic of the week.