A Perfectly Messy, Noisy, & Zany Cloud of Oblivion
The first few weeks of the new school year always get me. My summer brain refuses to get up off its warm, sandy beach and dip a toe or two into the frigid ocean water of binder shopping and lunch making. But I'm Mom. So I must.
When I finally do brave the dark deep, I find what I find every year - a battleground of other parents, eyelids as half-mast as mine, lips pursed, and attitudes that reek of I despise school supply shopping so nobody better get in my way! My kids begin filling my cart with mechanical pencils and calculators, as I trudge through the motions like everyone else.
A tsunami of past school year Mom responsibilities/failures rumble in my head to the tune of "Rock You Like A Hurricane". I think of the time one of my sons was on a baseball team with green jerseys, and I went to pick up socks to match only to discover the store was out. The store was out because green isn't a popular color for jerseys in our area, so local stores didn't care many pairs. How was I supposed to know? It was the first time any of my kids had been issued a green jersey. That didn't make me feel any more competent, looking at my son who now had to wear black ones.
One wheel of my cart squeaks. A glob of I-don't-know-what is cemented to one side. That's when I notice non-essentials in the basket like eyeliner and mints. Didn't you know that teenagers going to school need big bags of mints? Yeah, I didn't know that either. So now the fifth grader needs them, too. I join my squeaky cart wheel and squeal.
Toward the end of last school year, I discovered that my youngest (the now fifth grader) was only eating Honey Buns for lunch at school - ALL YEAR LONG! This happened after I began writing in the mornings. I'm getting older and exhaustion is getting the best of me. I mean, the kids need me after school to be their taxi driver, snack maker, launderer, and ATM, right? Then I need to feed them dinner and help with their homework and projects. That's all if we didn't have ice hockey at night. That usually equaled doing homework in the car by cell phone flash light and eating concession stand ice rink food. Oh, yum. I found myself too tired to write late at night.
So my husband took over before-school morning duty. For the most part, he did a good job, making sure the older kids were off to junior high and high school on time. He packed a lunch for our youngest, but that little sneak would only eat the Honey Bun. Sure, can't blame the kid. But as a mom, my heart plummeted to my feet. I'd let my little guy down. And OMGosh! Can you image what the other parents must have thought of me? You do know what my youngest consumes for lunch is the most important thing to my small town. Small town drama is a staple where I'm from.
I stare down at my now over-flowing basket of school goodies. All the to-be events, homework, projects, athletic games, practices, meetings, more supplies, lunches begin hitting me in the face. I bet two days won't pass before one of my kids forgets something at home that he/she needs at school. People scurry up and down the isle, yelling and giving orders. Some even bump my cart as they race past. One nudges me out of the way. I suddenly have the urge to hit something with a bat.
I've already ground part of the enamel off my back teeth. There goes the rest of it. So much to look forward to.
I inhale bedlam from the air. My attempt to choke it down fails. I sneeze instead. Yes, part of that might have been on purpose so I could mutter a minor curse. But trust me, it was lost in the pandemonium surrounding me.
"I don't care that your teacher said you need a 1 & 1/2" binder!" A woman peers up at her high school-aged son. "Is your teacher here? The freaking store is out of those.
"Are you sure you don't need another? You can never have too many notebooks," a blonde woman gently says to a college-age girl.
"In the grand scheme of Armageddon, black or blue ink won't matter a (expletive)," the man says.
I stop. And listen. And look at all the stimuli slamming into each other. Silent questions surface. Self-searching questions. And then I begin to laugh. Hard, so hard my stomach hurts. People look at me like I have three heads. My youngest gives me a blank stare, while my teenagers back away from my cart like I'm a rabid fox readying to pounce. It's perfect.
No, really. The whole scenario is obnoxious and relentless, yet silly and honest. Life at it's fullest of hot and cold, sweet and tangy - a perfectly messy and noisy and zany cloud of oblivion. Just like me.
Whether writer or not, this should serve everyone: "Expect chaos, for through it focus, calm and growth shall shine."