On Friday, I will be free.
Sure, I will have three children running wild through my house until the beginning of September. Of course, they’ll fight every two hours and repeatedly ask me what we’re doing next. Yes, they’ll leave the top off the sandbox when it rains, their dirty shoes will crowd the back step and a trail of snack food will cover the pantry floor. And I imagine I’ll be begging the school district to take them back early in mid August.
But it’s a trade I’m willing to make for freedom from the worst parental school year chore of all time.
I can’t stand it. It’s the nightly ritual I dread. It would seem so simple to pack a lovely, nutritious meal for your darling child to eat each day at school. But it ends up making me feel like a grouchy, short order cook who goes through a box of Ziploc baggies a week.
There’s never a quick or simple way to do it. One kid likes mustard, the other doesn’t. One wants wheat bread, one likes white. One wants ham, another pb & j, one wants sliced melon, another wants grapes. I’m sure there’s a super mom out there that makes those cutesy, Pinterest-inspired, fun kid lunches that turn cucumber, turkey and hummus into a fake sushi roll. Yeah, you win, lady. I don’t even operate in your league.
Perhaps it’s awful because I do it at the end of the day when the kids go to bed. After chauffeuring children to ballet, soccer and baseball games, eating dinner in different shifts, tackling homework, supervising baths and showers and chasing them into bed (“can’t I please stay up 5 more minutes?” NO.), I’m ready to be done. But when I get back to the kitchen, ready to put my feet up, there is a Hello Kitty lunch bag smiling at me. Pack me, it says. I want to punch the Kitty bag in the face.
Oh, I know. You say I should pack them in the morning. But I can’t bring myself to add yet another component to the morning grind. It’s enough for me (not a morning person) to get the kids out the door to school with everything they need. Like shoes and combed hair. I have to admit, I do have help. My husband Jamie will give me a hand at making the lunches at night. It is such a loathsome task, that it has become a grand romantic gesture if the other volunteers to do it. Sad that I dream of Ryan Gosling riding up on a white horse, handing over a glass of red wine and saying “Hey Girl, you go relax. I’ll make the lunches.”
But freedom is so close I can taste it. Taste it like a ham and cheese sandwich with mustard on white, lemonade, sliced strawberries and two chocolate chip cookies. And a freezy pack to keep it cold.
So farewell, lunch boxes until the fall. I’ve reclaimed that annoying 20 minutes I lost – in exchange for having the kids home. All day. Hmm.