OMG! With the mad flurry of activity (and snow) I cannot believe that Christmas is once again behind us. Where on Earth did the hours, days and weeks go? I’m exhausted all over again just thinking about it! The list making, the traffic, the crowds, the shopping, the wrapping, the cleaning, the chopping, the cooking, the table setting, the clean up, the family photo, the Christmas cards, the expense (!)…..if there were ever a time of year for Calgon to take me away, this was it.
In the midst of the excitement of the holidays, I realized that part of my job has been irrevocably phased out, downsized, terminated. As the More is More Mom® (a crazy person that has never even permitted her children to ride the school bus, preferring to drop my pals off at school each and every morning, and pick my pals up from school each and every afternoon) I have been on practically every school field trip ever. Now, here we are, with Amanda in 8th grade, half way through our 13th, and final, year attending Our Lady of Perpetual Donations grammar school, and it dawned on me; we are closing in on the end of an era.
Our Lady of Perpetual Donations is a wonderful school that celebrates its traditions. As an obsessive-compulsive person I completely appreciate the value of rituals. As tradition dictates, each year the 8th grade class makes its pilgrimage to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, and as a bonus has the opportunity to view the beautiful Christmas trees from around the world. Educational and festive! Never one to miss out on a day spent with the children (or anything else for that matter. I am your 2005, Our Lady of Perpetual Donations, Volunteer of the Year. That is my big claim to fame. You will see that there are no other designations after my name. I don’t think that being a member of Shopaholics Anonymous counts.). I was in my car and ready to go by 7am. What a fun day! I chaperoned a great group of boys and girls and I didn’t misplace a single soul, not even for a moment, which is quite a feat as there is usually a wanderer in every group. When we were leaving I found I had a great big giant lump in my throat as I realized that this was the last field trip I would ever attend.
I am a hoarder of all things. I love clothes and shoes, jewelry and handbags, dishes and glassware (I collect tableware in quantities of 20), table linens, serving pieces, artwork, decorative jars and boxes, urns, stationary, books, movies, music and the list goes on and on forever (I own more Rubbermaid containers, big and small, than Rubbermaid), but what I love to collect more than anything are…..friendships, memories and experiences.
When Nick was in the first grade I signed up to be a lunch mom. On my very first day, of my very first week on the job I nearly had a heart attack as I recognized the dangers of recess. With frantic hand gestures, and hysterical pleading I begged Nicholas to promise me that when he was on the playground (Read: blacktop church parking lot without a fence, on a busy street. Really now, where do all the retired elderly that can’t see over the steering wheel congregate? Church!) that he would keep his arms tight to his sides, stay in the middle of the parking lot, and never, EVER, go anywhere near a four square ball that was headed for the street! I had such heart palpitations, that I vowed I would come to school everyday to “help out” at lunchtime (meaning protect my first born).
After the first several days of this insanity my more experienced neighbor, mother of five, whose children were in fact all still alive, told me to get off the playground and that it would all be fine. Breathe, I told myself. And of course she was right. I never actually did hear of anyone dying at recess on the news. However once a week for the next eight years I did lunch room duty, with kids throwing trash in my direction as I wheeled around the garbage can when it was time to clean up after lunch, and risking life and limb as I retrieved the balls that I chased out in to traffic. As silly as it sounds these moments will always remain a highlight of the times that I was lucky enough to spend with my children.
I realize that part of my purpose as a parent is coming to a close, that my presence in Amanda’s school day is no longer needed or necessary. She is growing up. As a consolation, I happen to know that combating teenage angst is a whole new job opportunity of its own. I’m up for the challenge. On the other hand, maybe it’s time to enroll Wrigley in puppy school (or old dog school, he is nearly seven). I can supervise snack time, and recess and take him on field trips………Ah, the good old days.