At 6:28 p.m. Sunday, my weekend began. It lasted almost four hours.
Well, almost. I had to get about four casseroles and three desserts ready for the week’s various potlucks and family dinners; and there was a small sibling squabble to settle.
At least I worked in a “Game of Thrones” episode.
That’s how it is for end-of-year stuff for parents. No matter the working status, parents of school-aged children are walking zombies during the last month of classes.
I’ve been debating which is crazier: the four weeks before the December holiday break or the countdown to the last day of school. I’m too tired at both points to decide.
For the past 10 days, I’ve needed to be some place for some event every evening. Concerts. Theater performances. Ball games. Tryouts. School dances. Assemblies. Field trips. Talent shows. Jog-a-thons. Promotion ceremonies.
It’s uphill from here. I’ve yet to experience the emotional toll of proms, graduations and other coming-into-adulthood traditions.
School parent organizations also are going through transitions to get ready for next year: electing new officers, setting new budgets, planning the next year’s calendar and purging closed Facebook groups.
Beware the members of school recruitment committees, for they shall make you president of something next year.
Just when you think everything is under control, it’s time to check the grades. Those routine homework assignments and final projects get lost in all the fun. It’s hard for kids to stay focused on their studies when the countdown to summer is on.
At that point, we go back to basics, setting daily and weekly goals. When that last overdue paper gets turned in and the title page is put on the research paper, we celebrate with chocolate.
To keep my sanity, organization remains the key. Calendars are on my phone, written in a journal, stashed on my office computer and posted on the family calendar in the kitchen.
There are a few more tricks I’m learning.
• Use some ingenuity when shoehorning in all the responsibilities. Just last week I did an interview while waiting in the high school parking lot. Grocery shopping happens sometimes right after school drop-off.
• Store-bought items are just as good as homemade. Well, maybe not my buttermilk pie. But, it’s not worth staying up to 2 a.m. making cupcakes for a class party.
• For teacher appreciation, a heartfelt letter or note goes a long way. Teachers will hold onto these for years, kept as motivation and reminders for the times they get stressed.
• Forget keeping an immaculate house; that’s the best advice my grandmother told me after I had kids. I know it drives my neat-freak Mom a bit crazy, and my neighbors probably grouse about a patch of peeling house paint. But, on the list of life’s priority, a perfectly weeded flower garden is pretty low.
• When it gets unbearable, I put in earbuds and listen to loud rock music. It’s hard feeling overwhelmed when dancing around a room. Some people do yoga or meditate. For me, I lean on Nirvana, Nick Lowe or Rage Against the Machine, maybe Duran Duran for old-times sakes.
I’ve had some late nights recently, but I’m learning to revel in the moment.
Nothing delights more than seeing my daughter take a bow from the stage or watching my son with his friends at a class gathering.
One day I may miss all this madness. Or, maybe I won’t.
I certainly will never regret having done it.
Learn more about snakes in Oklahoma from Aaron Goodwin, a 20-year zookeeper at the Tulsa Zoo.