Being that it is week SIX (seven? I’ve lost count, to be honest) of the school year, I figured it was time to exhale and organize some of my thoughts. I know I have to go through this again, so this will hopefully serve as inspiration in the years to come… assuming I survive.
My oldest child started middle school. My “baby” is now old enough to memorize a locker combination, change classes (7 times a day), and go to school without a note confirming his alternative transportation home on any given day. How did we get here?!
Going into this new gig, I was cautiously optimistic…same school district, familiar faces, and an eager child craving for independence and life beyond elementary school. The transition to Middle School made me sad he was growing up, but excited about all the new things he would experience. That being said, I had no clue what was coming our way!
Middle School is a new animal. Everyday we get to experience a new “challenge.” I thought I would share some “Mom lessons” thus far, knowing full well that there are more challenges waiting for us around the corner:
1. The school supply list is no joke. I have never been happier than I was to finally get my hands on 13 no-pronged green folders. Shop as early as possible. And thank you to our school for providing a school store for everything we missed in the shopping chaos.
2. Organization is key and should be shared. It’s no secret that I love structure and organization. I have always tried to enforce this around the house; however, I have never really taken the time to teach my children how to do it on their own. (It’s quicker when we just do it, am I right?) My son was quickly overwhelmed with keeping track of short versus long term assignments and everything in between. We spent hours over the past several weeks organizing his study space in way that he could maintain. It has made a huge difference (well, just this past week…but we take what we can get.) Having him involved in shopping for school supplies actually helped him understand what supplies belonged to what class. It also helped him organize his locker.
3. Encourage and Trust. My son has basically taken it upon himself to sign up for various clubs and activities that he finds remotely interesting. He may or may not have joined the French Club with a promise of a trip to Montreal two years from now. When he tried out for the musical, I found myself preparing him for disappointment. Much to my surprise (and his at this point), he will be performing in the production. I wanted to protect him from disappointment. I should have just supported his decision and recognized he will not find success in everything he tries to do. It is OK. He will be ok and so will I.
4. Flexibility. This is another trait that does not come naturally, yet my survival depends on it. I have made it clear that afterschool swim practice is non-negotiable. I have told my son he will not get a cell phone until he is 13. Full discloser: 1.5 hours of homework and one forgotten pick-up from play practice…well, that will CHANGE EVERYTHING. An iPhone is not immediately in his future, but a flip phone with a direct speed dial to me might be on the “to-do” list for the weekend.
5. Have fun, embrace the change. High school Moms and those with more experience probably find my adjustment and lack of grace “so rookie.” I know my sweet boy is still eleven and not away at college (I will admit, it feels that huge somedays). I have promised myself to take it one day at time and laugh along the way. Shout out also goes to my husband for his ability to deal with all stressed parties and picking up the pieces when needed. As always, I am also so grateful for other Mom friends that I get to experience this adventure with. How could we get by without each other?! My husband certainly does not have capacity for 26 messages about the practice schedule this week.
Tomorrow is Friday, weekend is for recovery (and most likely child cell phone shopping) and I will be ready to tackle the rest of October with a whole month of experience under my belt. I wish all of you success (and sanity) for another school year.
WRITTEN BY STACEY
Stacey Marks moved back to Buffalo with her family in 2015 after a ten year hiatus in PA. She has a day job as a marketing professional in Corporate America. The rest of her time is spent resisting the urge to micromanage the daily lives of her husband and two kids.