September is the Worst

Not to be totally paranoid, but I’m pretty sure September is trying to kill me. Forget December and the holiday madness, there is something worse. It’s called, Back-to-School and it happens in September and every year I barely survive it.

You never see the hell of September coming. You are so overjoyed the kids are going back to school and the 24/7 all-inclusive resort you’ve been running all summer will be shut down for a few hours a day, you foolishly think you will have some free time. Ha! Not even close. You will be sucked into the black hole that is September.

The Calendar
September always looks wide open until suddenly every school and recreational sport coordinates the release of their schedules at the exact same time to test your will to live. You put on the sports… the practices, games, and out of town tournaments you vowed you’d never do because you would never be “that” parent. Oh, you’re that parent, all right. Then you add in the after-school activities, but don’t forget the before-school ones too, because apparently that’s a thing now.

Wait. You’re not done yet. Add the back-to-school nights, orientations, guidance nights, and parent-teacher conferences. It’s okay to cry a little. Now, color code it by child and you will quickly realize that unless you can bend the laws of physics, you can’t humanly pull it all off. You share the doomed calendar with your spouse since he insists on being more involved after reading the Default Parent blog. Right away he calls and says, “Holy, mother of hell, what the f*ck just happened?” And you say, “September. That’s what just happened. Welcome to the shitshow, darling.”

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School Supplies
How hard could this be? When I was a kid we were issued a fat red pencil and an eraser the size of a brick on the first day, and that was that. If you lost either, I’m pretty sure you got kicked out of school and sent to work in a coal mine, or something. Now, I spend close to $100 per kid on everything from markers, to notebooks, to a compass and protractor, that, to my knowledge, no one has ever actually used. On top of that, I’m outfitting the classroom with everything necessary to run a sterile operating room. It would be cheaper to just buy each kid a plastic bubble to live in. Not for anything but we survived our school days with a box of industrial tissues, the likes of sandpaper, and a water fountain that tasted like metal.

The Forms
For some reason, each year the schools get amnesia and seem to have no record of you and your children. I don’t understand how in this day and age of data they can’t keep you on file. But they can’t, or they won’t. So, every September you belly up to your kitchen table with a stack of forms, a generous pour of Pinot Noir, and what’s left of your fraying sanity to start from scratch. You write your name, address, email, and contact numbers over and over and over again for each school, each teacher. I have three kids so we are talking roughly 20 teachers between them. It is during this September treat that I long to be a user of hallucinogenic drugs.

The Newsletters
I have three kids at three different schools. I’m looking at about 12 school related emails per week. Last year, I took to Facebook and announced I was no longer reading newsletters. If they can’t tweet it in 140 characters or less, I declared, I don’t need to know. Well, yeah, that didn’t go so well. Take my advice and give into the information beast. Don’t doze off or someone will miss a field trip and you will never hear the end of it. Come September, forget what you once enjoyed in your free time. You like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain? That’s nice dear, but no one cares. Managing the overwhelming influx of school information is your life now.

The Homework
Dear lord, the homework. Forget actually helping them with it, the bar is so low here I’m just trying to get my 3rd grader to tell me if he has any or not. “Do you have any homework?” has turned into a complicated question. He talks in circles, circles! Just yes or no, I shout. Just yes or no! And the older ones, with their flash cards, wanting to be quizzed…I hide. I can’t take it. It’s so mind numbingly boring to hear about cell division, I once fell asleep sitting up during a thorough contrasting of mitosis and meiosis. I don’t want to know. School should be like Vegas. What happens in school, stays in school.

Open House
Open House, otherwise known as the least amount of fun you can have while paying a babysitter, is now your date night. You get to follow your kid’s schedule and live an abbreviated version of the daily hell of being back in school. There’s no cell signal and the whole place smells vaguely like feet, but if you need an antibacterial wipe, they’ve got plenty. You work hard to feign the appropriate amount of interest in the grading criteria and subject matter, avoid eye contact with the volunteer recruiters, and try not to embarrass yourself in the hallways, all the while dreaming of your pajamas and Netflix queue. So, basically, you do the same stuff your kid does there all day.

Picture Day
Really? Just, really? Is there no other month to have Picture Day other than September? I finally think I’ve got a handle on things, and boom! Picture Day…x 3. It’s my breaking point every year. Another check, another event on the calendar, another form, another thing to remember. But I don’t remember. My kid is unshowered and wearing a Disney t-shirt that is two sizes too small. Still, every year this sucker plunks down a small fortune to purchase horrible photos of her children that will sit in a junk drawer in the kitchen until the end of time, where they belong.

Well, September and back-to-school be damned. I survived another one. No one is happier than I am to turn the calendar page to October. Halloween? Whatever. A few costumes and a bowl of candy? Bring it on. November? I’ll see your drunk belligerent uncle on Thanksgiving and raise you a drunk belligerent middle-aged woman who’s been silent too long. December? I’ll move the shit out of that Christmas elf and sprinkle magic in my sleep. But, September? You, I dread. No month can bring me to my default parent knees quite like you. Until we meet again…
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26 Comments

  1. Marsha Moffitt on September 14, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    This was hilarious and so entertaining!!! You are amazing! Will visit regularly 🙂

  2. Elizabeth on April 12, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Oh. School. I start school in August, and I hate August.

  3. karla on November 9, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    seriously we are all living the same life! good to know i am not alone! I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!

    ps the forms have not stopped…drama club tshirt, iceskating fundraiser, field trip, highschool application, middle school application, readin logs.. can’t …

  4. Andrew Monzon on October 7, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    I remember the horrors of September. My daughter’s in college now so those days are in my rear view mirror (and my foot is on the accelerator). You have won over a new fan with your blog about you.

    thelonelyauthorblog

  5. Andrea on October 5, 2015 at 9:05 am

    So true Amiga, which is why I have just gotten to read your blog. You also reminded me why I didn’t have a 3rd child because I couldn’t imagine coordinating anymore than 2 lives other than my own. Admire anyone with 2+ children and managing more than 2 schools and all the hell of the paper trails – YIKES! Along with all the craziness of Sept. we manage to have birthdays which because of all that Sept. has to offer we might as well just permanently postpone. What tops the cake for me is that we barely survive Sept. and then each year I swear all the Halloween decorations come out earlier and when I see a pumpkin sitting outside someone’s door step before Oct. 1st I want to smash it!!! Really, can we just get through Sept. without thinking of all the other sh*t that is coming our way. Thanks as always for making me feel better and reminding us all we are not alone.

  6. Patrice on October 2, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I saw a father in Target who was completely lost trying to find all the school supplies. Anytime I heard someone in a store looking for magic erasers or washable markers, I knew they had the list in hand. I don’t get kids needing to buy cleaning supplies. I thought dirt was coming back in style because it helps kids’ immune systems develop.

    • M. on October 2, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      My kids have great immune systems and I attribute it mainly to dirt. Preach it!

  7. Alex gormley on October 2, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I love it!! Thanks for letting me know we aren’t waiting for the school info via tweet anymore. Btw, what’s Google Classroom and why do I have to be involved? I can’t remember my Apple ID ever.

  8. Rebecca on October 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    I knew there was a reason I was sitting in my pajamas at 11:00am surfing the web…

    • M. on October 2, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      You’ve earned it. October is officially declared Nap Month by me!

  9. Kathy Allen on October 1, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    September truly did seem like the longest month ever! Attending the open houses, conferences, soccer games for both my kids, all the forms to fill out and the supplies to buy! The list seems to go on and on for us parents. But please do not forget those teachers who are working countless hours, many of them unpaid and at home late at night after their kids go to bed, to get ready for the Open House, conferences and family nights at school. Please do not forget who makes sure your child’s hair is combed before their school picture so it turns out beautiful. Please do not forget who is teaching and caring for your child during the day and who is worrying about them after they get home. Many of those people juggle those responsibilities and being a good parent for their own kids. After a long day with 24 students they go home and do all the things parents do. Homework, dinner, soccer games, reading, bedtime, etc.
    Yep. September was a long one. But I am grateful for the people who care enough about my kids to spend their time working to help my children have the best school year possible.

    • M. on October 1, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      Who is forgetting the teachers? I love the teachers! Worship them like gods. In fact, the teachers who are also mothers and fathers of school aged kids have it the worst, for sure. But this blog isn’t about teachers…it’s about me…and other parents. I think it’s okay to find the humor of the back to school reality without also listing all the things I’m grateful for…because it would be a long list and a big fat bore. And, while teachers are the best, no one loves a martyr. So I hope they leave behind my kid and have a life of their own at night. And there’s no fixing my kid’s crazy hair on picture day…it’s wild! But cheers to teachers, of course.

  10. Brooke T on October 1, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    My friend shared this with me today and the timing was spot on! I also have 3 kids and in addition to all of the Sept. nonsense, I had two sick kids this week and my husband was traveling. Needless to say, I was 5 min from a major breakdown. Very comforting to know we are all not alone! Thank you for this pick me up! And, seriously with the school pictures? Who makes these freaking schedules?!?

  11. Lynette Cheatem on October 1, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    DAMN SEPTEMBER! I have a 4th grader and now even my 3yr old in Pre-K is getting all this crap sent home too! You’ve done it again! We have to be cosmic twins or something…you say everything swimming around in my head! I have about 3 weeks to get through Picture Day, but as usual you’ve hit the nail on the head. Thanks for the midday break, now I have to quiet down from laughing at my desk (people are staring) 🙂

  12. Paula C. on October 1, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    You couldn’t have posted this at a more perfect time…I am just sitting down to fill out the endless 6th grade camp packet. I was so happy to have a distraction! You are so tapped in to life with kids I just love reading our blog. Cheers to you, I would toast you but it is a bit early in the day:) Although a glass of wine would certainly make completing this packet more enjoyable.

  13. Tony Whitaker on October 1, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    M- outstanding. My wife/default parent was ranting about the forms and picture day this week.

  14. Michelle DiCesare on October 1, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Awesome read! The only thing missing is a paragraph on the fundraising. My god, the fundraising. I had 4 catalogs and a coupon book sent home in the first three weeks……

    • M. on October 1, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      I know! I took that and the PTA sign-up forms out due to space….but please, I’m so with you. I’m so lazy though I just buy everything instead of trying to sell anything to anyone else!

  15. Ann Lineberger on October 1, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    So funny and true! Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  16. Jolene on October 1, 2015 at 8:27 am

    I thought I was insane. I only have one kid. And he’s 4. And only goes to school for part of the day. I honestly thought I had lost my mind. THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for explaining this all to a newbie school mom. Good riddance, September!!!!

    • M. on October 1, 2015 at 11:02 am

      The first is always tough, so don’t undersell your September pain! I remember when the dreaded folder of info used to come home. I wanted to cry. I as still working full-time and thought there was no way I could do all of this. Now, working part-time, it’s still killing me!!!

  17. jenn on October 1, 2015 at 7:37 am

    This made my day!!!! Ahhh, my eyes are tearing! Lol, lmao, you hit it right on the head. Now hit me! Sept sucks without a doubt. Thanks for getting me into October ?

  18. Sara M on October 1, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Love this! And I’ve been wondering why I’ve been close to tears all month! This year I have had one kid starting kindergarten, 1 starting high school and 1 starting middle school. And I feel like someone’s been squeezing me in their fist and shaking me around like a rag doll! I tried hiring a sitter but she quit before she even started…Thanks for at least giving me cause to smile about the insanity, sista! It sure helps 🙂

  19. Jennifer G on October 1, 2015 at 1:05 am

    so so so funny.. and true!

  20. Elaine Grice on October 1, 2015 at 12:15 am

    Every parent feels your pain; throw in being part of the PTA Board and now it’s even crazier. A couple of years ago, our PTA converted all those mind-numbing forms into fillable PDF forms — it was like MAGIC! Never thought I would get so excited about completing forms online! You didn’t even mention the fundraisers that start in Sept (and this is after the PTA hits you up for money donations). So not only are you pulling your hair out about trying to keep it all together, your bank account is slowing getting drained. Yeah October is here…

  21. Vanina Dousdebes on September 30, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Can’t stop laughing! You do read my mind. September is really worst than running the 24/7 all-inclusive, worth like 10 Decembers haha can a month be plural? Oh yes! This year I’ve decided it’s up to them to know if they have an exam or not, and if they are ready or not. Didn’t work so well with my 8 year old, had to revise his stuff about the polar bear in the car on the way to school the day of the exam… and science in highschool OMG is there anything more insanely boring? Like the soil acidity… really? Love October, two pumpkins, two boxes of candy, choose your costume… done! ?

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