I loathe back to school night. Loathe it. Last year, my loathing caught me by surprise; I was quite excited by seeing the classroom and going to the book fair and being courted by the PTA. Seriously! I was! But then I went and it was mayhem. No place to sit for dinner; crowds and lines and stuffy libraries; crazy activities; utter and complete chaos. I do not say this to fault anyone involved in organizing the event as that was all done well. This was the usual chaos of an elementary school, and it's the kind of thing that makes me totally nuts.
This year, I felt like I went in with the right attitude, but I was still snarly by just after dinner. Really snarly. Like, I'm-the-mom-who-yells-in-public kind of snarly. Maddie got separated from me and Riley on our way to the book fair, which made her sob (who can blame her?), but she found an adult who helped her find me and what do I do? Neglect to thank the adult and lay into Maddie about how she needs to stay with me.
Really. I did that.
Then, as we crossed the playground to the kids' classroom, Riley turned sharply and without warning directly in front of me, causing the both of us to flail our arms, teeter unsteadily, and regain footing (me) or do a face-plant (Riley). Here's what I said, in this order:
"Riley! Don't walk in front of me like that! It's crazymaking!"
"Are your new books OK?"
"Wait, are you OK?"
Once at their classroom, I was irritated by the relatively small number of conference appointments available at hours that work for working families, then realized that we're out of town the week of conferences anyway. Got that worked out with the teacher, who was very accommodating. But don't even get me started on how generally working-parent unfriendly public school is. Wow. I mean, I know there are lots of issues to fix in the U.S. educational system and this is not a top priority, but it is a problem.
After my rant regarding conferences, I managed to calm down. The chaos in the classroom was at a manageable level, and I enjoyed being shown around the room by Maddie and Riley and meeting the other parents. We had fun reading the new book club books before bed, and it all turned around. But there were some moments there when I was about to lose my mind.
I'm rarely bothered by being a single parent anymore. Oh, sure, for a bunch of reasons, I'd like to have a partner. But it used to be extremely hard for me to attend events where two-parent households were the clear majority. That's much easier for me now. But somehow, tonight, with two kids talking nonstop and parents talking to me, too, and only one me to take it all in, I felt overwhelmed. It doesn't help that work has been utter insanity. Sigh.
But my best friend will be here soon and we shall have mojitos and debrief, and a big event that has been consuming much of my time and energy at work will take place tomorrow night and then it's OVER and work can go back to normal levels of crazy, and we have fun stuff planned for the weekend.
It feels so wrong to feel so bad about back to school night. I've got lots of years for it to get better, I guess. I hope.