A group of young children getting on the schoolbus

The Call of the School Bus

The school bus is coming! The school bus is coming! Summer is ending and I’m DANCING with excitement! The constant cacophony of noise, the odor of all things kid, and the Pig-Pen cloud of mess will be heading out the door and leave! The chaos of my house will be relocated to school and I will have approximately 30 seconds of peace. That’s how long it will take my children to walk down the driveway, get on the bus, and disappear around the bend. I will see them off and breathe a sigh of relief that we ended summer with the same number of children which with we greeted summer.

Then I will wonder, “What the hell am I supposed to do with the 7 minutes and 45 seconds I have ALONE in my house for the first time in eleven weeks!?”  In the short amount of time before I need to leave the house I will ponder the importance of each possible action and activity. The if/then result of every decision will cause tension in my neck. These few minutes are golden. I must not waste them.

Shall I clean the milk out of the sink? Load the dishes properly into the dishwasher? Wash the outside of the dishwasher? Clean the soap dispenser in the dishwasher? Tidy the area where the dishwasher soap lives? The possibilities are endless…and I’m only working with about three square feet of my kitchen! When I think about the remaining area of the kitchen I can’t catch my breath. Then the thought of the entire house enters my mind–all three floors–and ass over tea kettle I go. There goes 30 seconds of my free time while I collect myself, inspect the floor for dents…and find crumbs that MUST BE CLEANED.

It’s too early for a glass of wine. It’s too hot for coffee. I’m obviously far too excited to choose an appropriate beverage. Summer was awesome but the school season is my jam. Oh! Tea and toast with jam. I’m down to 5 minutes.

Once I realize I am still in my pajamas, have a trail of jam down my shirt, and my hair resembles something akin to a bird’s nest, my 5 golden minutes vanish like a hoagie in front of a teenage boy. I take care of things and head out for my day. Only to prepare for the renewed joy of seeing my people when they come home excited from the first day of classes.

One of toughest battles I fight as a mom is the need to fill every possible second with something. Whether it be a duty, playtime, sport, job, or even concern, I struggle with the need to fill time. Because if there’s free time, I have a) forgotten something b) forgotten someone c) dropped the ball on a commitment or d) had too much wine and no longer care about a,b, or c. Well, maybe b.

Summer accentuates the battle of the busy. I have to re-learn each year to enjoy the summer’s moments. There’s counting kids, a calendar with commitments, and the running of forgotten things to forgetful kids. I remind myself I don’t have to fill the gaps, that downtime is acceptable and okay.

During the school year, summer calls to mothers with a siren’s voice. That voice starts shrieking by August. A voice only silenced by the calm of an empty house on a September morning.

I have to go. The school bus is coming!

This post originally appeared on Evil Joy Speaks. It has been reprinted with permission.

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