The end of another summer break has come to pass.
I love having my children home on my days off and long to live the summer over again. (Just one more time, Universe? Please?)
Alas, it is not to be.
So, with the end of the summer comes the inevitable back-to-school shopping. Summer's easy livin' shorts, tanks and flip-flops are replaced with school clothes one size up from last year as the kids have grown by leaps and bounds under the summer sun. Feet are crammed into new tennis shoes as the children look longingly at their flip flops, dirty and ragged from a summer of adventures.
The school supply shopping. Ugh. You know my frustration, don't you Mamas (and Daddies)?
Searching high and low for the one item that the teacher was very specific about (brand, type, color) and going to several different stores before -eureka!- you find it!
Dragging your children along so that they can buy the items that suit them best, but finding yourself frustrated one minute into the several hour shopping trip because no one wants to be there (including you).
Feeling as though you are scrounging out every last penny to make sure that they have everything they need.
It's frustrating, isn't it?
This year I found myself nearly in tears as I shopped with my three kids. We were in Target (ironically, my happy place) and were trying to get the majority of the supplies for my three children in one trip. Each child had a list that was a full page long. The school supply aisles were full of children and parents, several of whom were screaming at said children. I was trying my best to ensure that my kids were getting the right supplies and that they were able to pick out colors and such, when they could. I wanted this to be a FUN experience, a little boost for them to get back into the swing of school. However, we were all just flustered. After an hour and a half and tears from two of my three children, we determined that we had everything that we needed less the items that we would need to make a special trip to another store for.
The cart filled until it was literally heaping and things kept falling of the top and toppling to the floor. I dreaded pushing the cart to checkout. Just looking at the amount of supplies in the cart made my checkbook tremble. But, we pushed our heaping cart (ever so carefully, while occasionally picking up the boxes of crayons that kept sliding to the floor) to the check out and, as expected, I was a little shell-shocked at the amount. The amount was about what my family would pay for about 3 weeks of groceries. I handed over my debit card with a grimace and could feel my kids watching my reaction as I did so. This had not been the fun back-to-school outing that I had hoped for.
We packed up our bags and walked out to the car. As I was loading the many bags into my trunk, I noticed the family in the car next to ours. There was a Mom and her son getting into a rusted, older model car. She held onto one, single bag that appeared to be full of school supplies and he proudly paraded to the car bearing his new backpack on his little back. I could hear a snippet of their conversation. She was saying that they would buy just a few supplies per week until they had them all and trying to reassure him that it was okay if they didn't have them all on the first day -- everything would work out. They made their way into their car (which took several tries to start) and drove off with their small bag of school supplies in tow. We sat, humbled, in our car which was full to the brim with the supplies of my three kiddos.
It was good to be humbled. I deserved to be humbled, for I have so much to be grateful for:
I am grateful for being able to buy my children everything they need and some of what they want.
I am grateful for my children's education at a great district.
I am grateful for my children's teachers and know that they would never put an unnecessary item on that list.
I am grateful to have the money to donate for families that aren't lucky enough to have all that they need.
My children and I sat in the parking lot and talked about that gratitude for several minutes. The three crumbled supply lists in my hand that I had been cursing moments before had become lists of grace, a reminder of our own abundance -- an abundance of finance and a great abundance of love.
So, in the midst of the blog articles and social media statuses that are damning the purchase of many school supplies for their children, I choose to be grateful.
I am grateful for my children's school supply lists and the abundance that they represent for my children. Abundance of education. Abundance of items that will help foster their growth this year. Abundance of love from their family and their teachers and school staff.
I am thankful for the start of a new school year, even as a mourn the end of summer with my littles. I will do all that I can to hold onto the gratitude as the blessings of fall roll in.
This post first appeared on The Zen RN.