It is officially the end of May. The Pinterest pages, Facebook feeds, and family magazine features are loaded up with all the activities you should do with your kids summer. AS. IF.   As if we need more activities. MORE I say!  As if I am sitting here, ok, really lying here in my end of school year coma,  thinking, "OMG! I CANNOT wait to tackle that homemade moon sand recipe  we will dye ourselves with the skin of organic vegetables, then shape our homemade sand into a perfect replica of the Millenium Falcon! ” Or, “Why yes, I am going to schlep 4 kids to that new science museum two hours away, where we will eagerly wander through the exhibits,  each completing the 10 page scavenger hunt I created last night. Then we will come home and ‘discuss’ at great length the scientific theories we learned, because, brace yourself,  what if we don’t keep our minds active ALL summer? GASP!  Wait, hold it! We must, just MUST go to the dollar store and buy 125 pool noodles to construct a backyard water park! We will invite the neighborhood kids over, serve vegan popsicles,  watermelon chunks cut out like dolphins, and a vegetable crudité platter shaped like a palm tree.  And what summer pool party would be complete without nitrate, skin, meat, additive, and taste free hot dogs on gluten free buns covered in artisanal ketchup?

I am done. Sort of like I how I was done with the school year, but I am already done with summer. And by done, I mean I am done with all the forced smile inducing, uber planned and supervised, over the top  summer life experiences  I am supposed to provide for my kids. You know what I want my kids to experience this summer? The same type of summer I would have experienced in the late 1970’s.  The exact same one.  I survived it, and they will too. As a matter of fact, it must have been pretty memorable because 30 years later I can tell you exactly what it entailed. It entailed FUN. Fun we made all on our own. What. A. Concept.

My top 10 ways to give your 2014 kids a 1970’s summer.

.       Let them watch TV. Plenty of it. But only the TV Land channel. I want my kids to watch The Love Boat, The Carol Burnett Show, The Jefferson’s, Charlie’s Angels, My Three Sons, The Six Million Dollar Man,  Gilligan's Island, $100,000 Pyramid, and my personal favorite, Hart to Hart.  Seriously,  what little girl in the late 70’s  didn't want to be an amateur detective married to the CEO of Hart Industries, driving around in a yellow Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster, while sporting a matching lilac pant suit and  perfectly coiffed butterfly winged wavy brown hair?  Because I sure as hell did.

2.       Eat whatever you  want, and/or whatever can find.  There will be no more pantries full of organic vegetable chips, and non-GMO graham crackers. No more refrigerators full of anti-pesticide fruit, free range eggs, and cold pressed juice.  This will be the summer of Frito-Lay and Red Dye #5. I want to see my kid’s reaction when I tear open a tiny envelope of cherry Kool-Aid, sprinkle it into a BPA laden plastic pitcher, dump 4 cups of regular, granulated, white, and maybe even generic sugar (not raw, stevia, or agave,) then add water from the tap, and  viola! You are hydrated! I will be over here drinking a Tab. Lunch will be fried bologna and a blue can of Planter’s Cheese Balls, and for dinner we will pile in the car and go pick up a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a styrofoam quart of mashed potatoes,  and O. M. Geee, dessert will be pineapple upside cake! Made from canned pineapples in…….wait for it……syrup!

3.       Make them play outside. Like all day. All. Damn. Day. Hot? Drink from the hose. Run through the sprinklers. Swim in the pool until your hair feels like straw, turns green, and the bottom of your feet are calloused from the bottom of the pool. Search for ladybugs, play hide ‘n seek between the houses, run down the street gutters after a rain storm. Read under a tree. I hear this lady named Judy Blume writes good stuff.

4.       Send them to the movies for the entire day. I will drop you off at around 11 and pick you up for dinner. Its’ real simple. You sneak from one theater to the next. Nobody cares.

5.       Spend three nights in a row at your best friend’s house. No, you don’t have to call to check in every hour. And yes,  it’s totally ok their parents will be at work and nobody will be home all day. It will give you plenty of time for #1, 2, and 3.

6.       Make stuff, like from stuff you find. No trips to Hobby Lobby for pre-cut, pre-stuck, pre-fabricated crafts.   Find crap in the garage and assemble it into something you can play with. No, you can’t Google how to do it. Ropes are fun.

7.       Have them put on a talent show. A  real, genuine, sing and dance and entertain the hell out of me talent show.  I promise I won’t upload it to Youtube or share it on Facebook. I pinky swear. No, there is no theme, no requirements, no directions, no anything. No, there is no right way to do it. You have an imagination. Please use it.

8.       Play this until you want to throw it against the wall, or smash into 1,000 pieces.  It’s the original train your brain app.

9.       Build a fort in the backyard. No, I am not gonna help. Yes, you can use the $125 Pottery Barn Kids duvet cover from your bed. I don’t care anymore. Making a memory trumps 400 thread count cotton.

10.   Finally, learn to find the amazing in the ordinary. Trust me. You will need this skill in your 40’s. I pinky swear. 

Women's Athletic Catalogs Meet Reality

I posted a Facebook status update a few weeks ago that described a certain athletic shoe company’s latest commercial for women’s running shoes. It features an uber perky, rosy cheeked, clothes peeling, stripping supermodel joyfully running into the shower, presumably after long, hard run. She is so happily oblivious that she gets in the shower with her running shoes still on. Geez, I hate that! You know when you skip into the shower after your run and literally forget you are wearing shoes?  What a workout buzz kill.  Anywho, missing from this woman…errr, girl really, are any traces of an actual run; no sweat beads, no sweat stains, not a wildly out of place strand of hair to be seen stuck to her porcelain face. And trust me, I have seen this thing frame by frame by frame. By. FRAME.  All  courtesy of a jaw dropping 16 year old boy and his father, who have stood frozen in front of all of her 55 inch hi-def glory, remote control in hand…play, pause, play, pause, play, pause. Good GAWD already! Yes, it’s a half-naked woman!  Move on.  But seriously, I come in the house all the time from a run looking JUST. LIKE. THAT. Ok, well, in the Saucony commercial slash dream sequence playing in my head, then, hell yea!,  I look just like that. AIso in my dream,  right before my morning run,  I took an old wooden pallet and turned it into a kid’s play deck, I baked a 7 layer cake using eggs I foraged from my chicken coop, I changed the oil in my car, and I canned some pickles. All by 7 a.m. Yep, in my Saucony dream I am also totally kicking some mother runner sustainable living ASS. In real life, not so much. And all the other mother runners I know? The ones I run with, have done quick 5Ks and grueling marathons with? Hey newsflash Madison Avenue, we are REAL. As in, not airbrushed.  We have real bodies.  And guess what? Now pay real close attention here athletic shoe and apparel marketers-  we are moms and we buy LOTS of things.  We pretty much buy everything our family needs, including the stuff we personally need.  We also buy athletic clothes, sometimes even fancy stylish ones, though not a necessity, we sometimes buy new running garb as a reward to ourselves for doing a race, or really, for getting out the dang door in the morning.   And we are smart and brand loyal. Like very brand loyal. We want, we beg, we are pleading for you to show us real women wearing them.  And chances are over the next 12 months I will purchase four pairs of running shoes, new running shorts, a sports bra, a hat, a running tu-tu, running socks…….are paying attention now?

I used to, USED TO, think the only thing better than pulling a new yarn catalog out of the mailbox was pulling out a new, glossy, women’s athletic wear catalog.  Look! Batik running tanks! Gigantic Hawaiian flowers on running skirts!  Stretch to fit organic, bamboo, moisture wicking, recyclable, running capris that take you from the gym to a meeting!  Maybe it’s because I am getting older, or maybe because I cannot physically and mentally relate to some of the images staring back at me, but now I flip through the pages and often sneer. And don’t get me wrong.  I am fit.  I run, I bike,  I play tennis, I chase little boys. So when I should feel like I could pledge their fitness sorority, I really don’t.   On the contrary, lately I find myself outright laughing at the perfect insanity of some of the pictures.

No naming names here, so let’s hypothetically take the latest catalog from, ooooh, let’s call it “Women Play.” Great. I can play. I play a lot. I am sure I can relate. Inside front cover stands a  bronzed, sun kissed woman in maybe her late 20’s? She is carrying….wait a sec….is that a kayak slung over her shoulder like a feather?  Next to her is a long quote about a ‘typical woman who plays.’ ”She’s the mom with her son in a stroller getting her run in.” (OK, I can relate) “She is learning how to swim at age 50.” (OK, awesome. I often work with  senior citizens so you go girl) “She is an athlete and she probably looks a lot like you.” Stop. Hold it right there. This lady has no creases or lines on her skin. None. Her arms so toned and defined I suspect they photo-shopped Dana Torres’ upper body in. Her hair is perfect, and she is on the beach no less. Who the hell has good hair on the beach? And I have never, EVER,  seen large, chunky, glittering gold sand sit on someone’s thigh like that, and I live in Florida.  On the next page another lady is leaping over a waterfront cement wall. No joke.  Leaping over a wall. And get this, nothing is sagging. Obviously, this particular photo was taken at NASA’s no gravity testing facility, because how on Earth is everything, well, UP SO HIGH.  Beneath her picture are some tidbits about her. (Think cheeky convo with Playboy’s Miss July, only smarter.) She is “Dying to learn how to do a back flip on the beach.”  Hey me too! (When I was 9.) Currently I am just dying to actually SIT on a beach. Next page. Meet “Janie.” She lives on a tropical island. She is a civil engineer and yoga instructor. (Of course she would be.) She is pictured mid-air, over a crashing turquoise wave, ready to dive on to her surfboard. She has the ass of a Russian Olympic gymnast. Shoot. Me. Now.  What’s next? Might as well be “Meet Ashton. She just gave birth to triplets, unassisted and on the deck of the offshore oil rig in the Indian Ocean she was commandeering.  While pregnant, she ran 3 marathons on a treadmill atop the roof of the oil platform. During a tsunami. Without music. AND she was wearing these hot pink running pants! Only $85.00.” Oddly enough, at this point I am not ready to jump online and buy the $85 hot pink running pants. I am, however, ready to jump online and Google “Talking yourself off the ledge.”

Other women’s athletic catalogs don’t veer much from this one. All these women just look too damn perfect. So what are they really selling?  That if you buy that $50 batik tank you will instantly be able to climb rock walls with ease and stand on your head for 10 minutes? I want to be sold on something else. I want to be sold on the feeling that only I can get, for doing only what I can do. Look, I know these companies can’t have a catalog full of regular moms, leaving for a run with dirty, uncombed hair, mismatched socks, wearing their old turkey trot t-shirt dabbed with a spot of maple syrup and covered in spilled coffee from breakfast earlier. They can’t really highlight her face, that is probably expressing worry, doubt, and the higher order thinking required to process this week’s carpool logistics nightmare, along with the never ending deluge of to-do lists dancing in her head; buy milk, wash t-ball jersey, send thank you card to neighbor, shave legs, make dentist appointment. But I want to think that if they did, it would indeed look like that. Because that it what I look like.

So my advice to running shoe advertising executives would be to make a commercial like this:
Start out with several clips of all the real work, the real physical work moms do every day; Rising before everyone else to finish laundry, preparing breakfast, packing lunchboxes and backpacks, mediating fights, fetching balls out of trees,  returning emails, giving presentations, hauling cranky kids around town to school and sports practices, volunteering, and possibly working a full time job.  Scenes of a mom actually doing the hardest job on Earth, trying to be everything to everyone. Then flash to her on a solitary run. It’s silent. Just the sound of her feet hitting the pavement.  No flashy and perfectly fitting running outfit, no out of reach pace,  no kayak slung over her shoulder, or wall to scale. Just her, diligently focused, smile gently. Satisfied.  Caption on the screen will say, “And this is the EFFORTLESS part of her day. She found her strong. Have you? #FindYourStrong.”

That’s it. Simple. Ditch the stripping supermodel and go with that. Then call me and tell me how many shoes you just sold. Because that is the real picture, the genuine reality of moms on the run. And you know what? Sometimes reality actually doesn’t bite. Especially when you run to bite it back.

What I Honestly Want For Mother's Day From My husband


Love of my life, father of my four glorious children…….

I want you to wipe down the wall behind the toilet. It’s a lovely shade of maize and smells faintly of Bourbon Street on a Sunday morning. Start about 6 inches from floor, work your way up. Higher. Yea, I didn’t think that was possible either. Wear gloves. Hazmat suit totally optional.

I want you to fill out all the forms for the next 6 months. That’s right. ALL THE FORMS. The 20 pages I will get next month for school registration renewal, the field trip forms, the insurance forms, the athletic forms, the camp forms, the club forms, the order forms, the return forms, the rebate forms, the warranty forms. Man oh man I am so gonna miss doing that.

I want you to memorize four social security numbers, four shoe sizes, four pant sizes, four shirt sizes, and four underwear sizes. Sizes are subject to change spontaneously and without any type of notice What. So. Ever. There is no systemic, equal, or gradual increase in any or all of these sizes. One day you are buying a size 3 shoe, next week a 7. Go with it.

I want you to cut out coupons for the next 6 months. Alphabetize and file by expiration date, store, and food group.  I want you to know, just plain KNOW what coupons to NOT cut out, and you can’t ask me. Hint: I don’t buy pop-tarts,  everything in the house always needs disinfecting, and we don’t have a cat. And you see that stretchy bra like thingie they sell by mail order on the last page of the coupons? It  looks mighty comfy. I like pink.

I want you to make all the well child doctor appointments for the next year.  Go ahead and make appointment for 7:00 am so they don’t miss school. It’s always easy to get people clean and dressed and in the car by 6:30 a.m. A total ball! Don’t worry, there is drive thru coffee on the way. Drink it fast because it will get cold while you sit in the pediatrician’s waiting room for 2 hours watching a new mom try to console a screaming colicky infant. Bring that hazmat suit you used earlier, to defend against the 2 year old with green snot dripping out of his nose hacking up a lung on your lap. The peds office is blast I tell ya! Remember, you’re the one who didn’t buy the  “I have a headache” excuse. See where it got you?

I want you to gain and lose exactly 28 pounds, four times, and over the course of 40 weeks. Oh wait, really only 20 weeks because over the first 20 you will vomit up your small intestine, as well as what is left of any actual fluid left floating in your  wilting veins. Don’t worry, eventually it’s totally awesome packing on 15 pounds in just one month because you realistically haven’t eaten a morsel in five. Sure, the skin on your stomach won’t know what hit it but come on, stretch marks are IN baby! It’s not like bathing suit season is soon or anything.

I want your penis to triple in size.  Stop it. Don’t get too excited. This will not be for yours or my enjoyment. I would like it to triple in size and at the same time I want the feeling of someone touching it to be painful, annoying, and downright horrible.  Oh, and it has to now nourish a person, as in keep them alive, for like, over a year. And I want you to have to wear the ugliest underwear on the planet for your new awesomely large beverage dispensing penis.  Then suddenly, I want it to shrink to 5 sizes smaller than it was before. There. I feel better now.

I want someone to pull a watermelon out of your lower abdomen after a quick slice and dice with their scalpel. No biggie. Then I want them to  hand you the watermelon, a maxi pad the size of a pool raft, a trial size bottle of baby shampoo and say “Now while you recover, don’t lift anything heavy, like say,  a watermelon. Godspeed!”

I want you to meet me on my running route every day and at several different places, with water, holding a poster that says, “You are hauling ASS hunny! I am soooo  making dinner tonight!”
I want you to pick out both the movie and the restaurant. I swear to God I don’t care. I just cannot make one more damn decision or be in control on ONE. MORE. THING. Just pick it. (No place with TV’s hung high playing ESPN.)

I want you to not bring me breakfast in bed. Do not let my kids make and/or bring me breakfast in bed. Do not let anyone make/bring me breakfast in bed unless their name is Ina Garten, and I have awoken to discover I slept at a Four Seasons last night, on Martha’s Vineyard, next to an open window with a cool breeze wafting in smelling of lavender.  Then, by all means…..

I do not want you to draw me a bath. I want you to erase the drawings in the bathtub. Even the one I ‘accidently’ made last week when I dropped an entire bottle of red nail polish in there. Sorry about that. I had my foot propped up on the side of the tub, and roughly 3 seconds to try to make 4 toenail-less toes look, well, not so horrific. On that note, don’t buy me cute sandals.

I want you to drink English tea and eat scones with me while I watch Downton Abbey. Don’t talk. Don’t frown. Don’t ask questions. Just sit there and sip, nod, and smile gingerly when Violet cracks a good one. Then clean up and ask me, “Will there be anything else this evening my lady?”

I want you to know that being a mom to your 4 boys (reminder again- YOUR swimmers had the AWOL females)  is the most outrageous, most fatiguing, most mentally taxing, mind numbing, non-stop disaster inducing, tear generating, nerve ending,  aggravatingly thrilling, unbelievably herculean thing I have ever or will ever do. EVER. It is the laughing until it hurts and you cry kind of fun that I never want to stop having. EVER. And I really don’t need flowers, cards, candles, or dinner out. I just need you guys. All of you. All the time. Simple.  But if the spirit moves you to, oh, I dunno, empty the dishwasher, or bring me a cup of coffee……please don’t hesitate. I’ll take it.

Worst End of Year School Mom Ever- Melissa's Version

Last year around this time, Jen Hatmaker authored a hilarious blog post titled “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.”  How quickly another year has whizzed by, only to find us all here, dangling from the proverbial school mother of the year tree branch, whimpering for a life boat, or at least an original lunchbox idea. (Preferably one that does not require the culinary gumption of the Barefoot Contessa, and miniature die cutters so at 5 a.m., I can gleefully cut out organic cheese into the shape of the International Space Station.)  Yep, it is time to again reflect on how little, and I mean a SCANT amount of gas we moms have left in the school year tank. Fumes, people, FUMES!  It is now May 1, and I have to dangle for five more weeks. I can only hope and pray that I have enough fumes to hang on to that school branch until June 6. It’s gonna be close. Real. Effing. Close.

The next five weeks hold an insurmountable bevy of school related activities. We have the end of the year classroom parties, graduations, field trips, teacher appreciation weeks, sports banquets, middle school dances, and most likely a few classmate birthday parties thrown in the mix. Dear Lord - NO more birthday party invites. Just NO. Fenton’s are off the cake circuit until fall. We have all simultaneously hit the laser tagging, bounce housing, roller skating, sleepover-ing, bowling party WALL.  (Listen to me young married ladies, if you are trying to conceive,  DO NOT try for a June baby.  No way in hell you will have the strength to throw a kick butt birthday party in the month of June. Or, for that matter, even manage to deliver store bought cupcakes to the classroom. Just forget it. Shoot for September.) Anyway, these activities require all of us dangling and weary moms to work together in unity. Happily! Gratefully! In Unity! That’s right. Leave it to a pack of wild moms, drooling and begging for June, to be forced into civil and cooperative party planning when all we really want to do is hit the summer highway, and leave the parent school association in our dust. At this point, the only thing we can manage to do in unity is swear, and send each other texts like “When the %^* was that project due again?” and “R U #$^%*ing kidding? We have 2 make what 4 what? By tomorrow?” We are, however, as we dangle from the branch, staunchly united in one simple statement of solidarity- Make. It. Stop. Make it ALL. JUST. STOP.

Make the breakfast cooking STOP. I curse myself for having morphed into that mom who cooks a hot breakfast every day.  What was I thinking?  I never worked at Denny’s. Hell, before I got married I could barely scramble an egg. Now several mornings a week I have scrambled half the damn carton by 6:30 a.m., because once you drive down that wonderful hot breakfast highway, there is no getting off the cold cereal exit.   And they all just keep asking for it, day after day, as if I’m sporting a name tag reading “Flo” and donning a pink and white pinafore, gripping a notepad and smacking gum, with a pencil sticking out of my bouffant. Is Mel’s diner open this morning?  Damn you September mom, who was mixing up whole grain pancakes then pouring them into autumnal themed pancake molds.  Or, baking from scratch fruit filled muffins, egg burritos, and Belgian friggin’ waffles. Flo is so over. This week’s breakfast menu includes toast. Probably only one piece. Want two? Knock your brother over. Just go ahead and take him out, I don’t care.  If we have butter consider yourself lucky.  Out of bread? It’s saltine city sweetheart. Protein has left the building. Sure you can have orange juice, but please drink it out of the jug. I have also quit washing the sink full of morning pans, plates, and cups, so if you use a glass you better run. Fast. Out the front door.  Whatever dirty breakfast dishes I find I am just going to toss in the garbage. Hey, simple living is in. I’ve walked through the Swiss Family Robinson house at Disney World. They survived.

Make the lunch packing STOP.  All 4 of them. Every day.  And this is coming from a mom who owns cookbooks based solely on school lunch recipes, has a Pinterest board dedicated to lunchbox ideas, and often prints out cute notes to tuck inside. “You’re A- mazing! I’m bananas for U! Orange you glad it’s lunchtime!”  I know. Seriously.   September mom at her best. This all has led me to have my weekly   “I am going on a mom strike like TODAY!” moment, at which time I proudly announced I am no longer packing school lunches for the current school year.   Done. Over. El fin de almuerzo. The lunch lady split people. I. Just. Cannot. Pack.  Another effing lunch.  No more sandwiches cut out like dinosaurs, no more kabobbed  fresh fruit, and googly-eyed muffins, and  no more homemade baked goods. Boys, it’s time to meet a sweet little girl I know. Her name is Little Debbie. Meet her BFF, Nutty Bar. Oh, and if you are looking for fiber, there is a four month old apple at the bottom of the produce drawer.  Maybe 3 grapes, and some cranberries I bought last Thanksgiving. And I think one petrified mozzarella stick. Go for it. Hey, aged cheese is gourmet cheese.  “Orange you glad you had toast for breakfast!”

Make the laundry STOP. Clean p.e. uniforms, clean dress uniforms, clean soccer uniforms, golf polos, soccer shorts, tennis shorts. Day in. Day out. I know  I am supposed to be full of laundry joy,  like that old laundry saying says, “Be grateful for all those little blessings of clothes.”  By now, buttons are popping off, sleeves are constricting growing biceps, navy dress shorts are faded, and white shirts are dingy gray. My once bright and crisp looking boys are borderline trailer park fashion models by May 1. Nobody has worn matching socks since February. Toes are coming out the front of shoes. Belts are peeling.  “Mom, I need new school shoes!” Yea, no way I am buying new school shoes in May. And NO, I am not climbing to the back of the closet  to dig out the next size up shorts for a few weeks of wear.  No, I don’t care if you go to school looking like you slept in a ditch last night. It’s Catholic school, tell them you are embracing your inner John the Baptist. Wear flip flops. Heck, even the new Pope ditched his flashy duds. No bath? No teeth brushing? No hand washing?  Fine by me. Water loves you back kid. It’s called saving the planet, via one dangling mom at a time.

Make the school sports STOP. Please. No match tie breaks, or extra innings, or overtimes. No playoffs, shoot outs, no championships. Please just lose already! Throw in the towel. Throw down your racket. Throw the soccer ball in traffic. Throw the golf ball in the drink. Just. Stop. Playing. Sorry, but I just don’t see you on  ESPN’s top plays of 2030.  Guess what? I’m totally fine with that. You know where I really need to be after school? My couch. Not a field, a fairway, a court, a diamond, or a set of bleachers.  Me, the team bus driver, is now filing a complaint with the NTSB claiming lack of mandated rest, and compromised health.  Nobody should be driving children to sporting events when they possess the blood sugar levels of a gnat (skipped lunch- was planning graduation party! Yay me!) AND got the same amount of sleep last night of your average bat (was crafting 20 teacher appreciation week gifts- Yay again!) I am personally lobbying next year for extracurricular activities that only take place at Barnes & Noble and SuperTarget, and include free caffeine for everyone over age 40, plus transportation to and fro, with healthy snacks on board.

Make the bedtime routine STOP. The showers, the story reading, the school bag packing, the clothes laying out, the homework signing. Check. Check.  CHECK! Think early October. Our bedtime routine was executed with military precision and perfection. Everybody peacefully tucked in and the next morning’s necessities lined up waiting by the door. I have since gone AWOL. Out of sheer and total burned out-ness, I have become a master of “Mom is going to lie down now.” (Lie down, because saying ‘going to bed’ means a kid will inevitably climb in with you and, well, if you give a mouse a muffin……) I then say, “While I lie down, you need to get ready for bed by yourself.” I tried it one night recently at about 8:15. It worked. I have backed it up incrementally. 8:10, 8:00, 7:45, 7:30. Last night I said it at 5:30.  I was snoring by 8. I have no clue just exactly how ready for bed they got. And this May mom doesn’t give a crap.  Rock on independent kids! Oh helicopter parents, where do you find the energy? I currently have the keen supervisory skills of a drone who is nose diving with dead batteries. Please charge me and plug me back in one day in late August.

Make the planning for school this fall, that’s right, this FALL (I kid you not) STOP.  What classes will my two high schoolers (GASP) be taking this fall? What day in August does the golf team start? Jot down that workshop in September you volunteered to teach.  Block out the entire third week in October for school charity dinner preparation.  Don’t forget 3 out of state football games. Take family Christmas picture first week of November because remember, your procrastinating ass needs roughly 6 weeks to drive the 3 miles to Walgreens to actually get pictures printed out.  Yep, we are already filling up our fall calendars. I wish I were joking. I can barely plan tomorrow night’s dinner and there are psychotic ‘Marthas’ on Pinterest  pinning pumpkin pie recipes, and Halloween costumes. Lay off autumn already. Can we please just enjoy spring? I would like to disembark from the 6 month out calendar planning roller coaster. This ride sucks.

Luckily, it will all stop soon enough, and then something just plain awesome will happen. The first week of August, long after summer camps have filled their days, after vacations have been enjoyed, pajama parties endured, matinees watched, lightning bugs collected, red, white, and blue popsicles licked, and after we have all had our fill of long lazy naps taken during afternoon thunderstorms, moms all around the country will get a renewed grip on the school tree branch. They will no longer be desperately dangling from it, they will be eagerly climbing it. With a twinkle in their eye (and the promise of not having to hear “I’m bored” for at least another 4 months,) they will be climbing that school year branch with renewed vigor. They will be climbing that sucker all the way to the store, where they will dance down the aisles buying new school uniforms, crayons, spiral notebooks, and tennis shoes. They will cavort with other moms about just how damn GREAT the tree looks, how they are so  #$%&ing  glad to be climbing it again, and how they are oh so ready to swing from this branch to that branch. And how maybe, just maybe, this is the year the tree will not overwhelm them. It will not get decayed, thorny, or withered, but will remain green and fruitful, almost forgiving.  Maybe this is the year they will hang a swing from it, have a seat, and sway gratefully with the realization that the tree has a season of life. And that one day soon, right before their eyes, all the little branches will have rooted into their own trees, leaving them dangling with both sadness and nostalgia. But also leaving them with the satisfaction that all those exhaustive years of climbing, dangling, and climbing  again has ultimately produced one amazing tree house. Well, for me, I am hoping 4 amazing tree houses.