One of the most difficult life changes I experienced while moving from adolescence to adulthood was realizing that the world at large doesn’t actually revolve around the academic calendar. Upon entering the work force, I was suddenly faced with the reality of spending Christmas Eve, Easter and other once-taken-for-granted days-off ringing up groceries or delivering pizza.
Just as I came to fully accept the fact that the 9-to-5 year ran from January to December and didn’t pause for sunny days, open swimming pools or neighborhood festivals, my first child entered school and I again had to swap my Gregorian calendar for one that started its year in mid-August.
The school seasons have simply stacked on top of the regular happenings of good ol’ winter, spring, summer and fall. In addition to designating the first day of school as the first day of the year, hayrides and pumpkin picking are now sandwiched between school supply and clothes shopping, open house, school pictures, endless check writing, new homework regimens, fall sports and other beginning-of-the-academic-year activities. Just as we finally begin to settle into the new school year’s routine, perhaps the busiest season of all adds yet another layer to our ever-thickening days: holiday season.
Now that I am a parent, the fourth Thursday in November through the January 1 holiday season that I knew as a carefree, someone-else-does-the-work child has morphed into what seems like the majority of the year.
Halloween rolls into Thanksgiving, which rolls into Christmas, which rolls into New Year’s which rolls into Valentine’s Day, which rolls into St. Patrick’s Day, which rolls into Easter, which rolls into Memorial Day, which rolls into Independence Day, which, honestly, almost rolls right into Labor Day and the beginning of school, starting the entire cycle over again. If you observe Jewish or Muslim holidays, your holiday season falls right on top of your already-chaotic beginning-of-school season, which I imagine leads to even further stress and complication. Yet, major observances are only the tip of the activity iceberg.
The parenting year is continually sprinkled with numerous events less obvious to the general public, but almost equally important in the eyes of school-aged children and their parents. There are seasonal events, like report card days and school dances, and there are the annual not-to-be-missed occasions, like the family picnic and the ice cream social. The end of the school year is a particularly hectic time in the life of a parent. Spring sports are in full swing, with athletic seasons overlapping one another and fighting for prominence, just as everyone on the academic calendar is trying to squeeze in one last year-summarizing hurrah before the end of school.
Although summer vacation is within sight, navigating the scheduling obstacle course between spring break and the last day of school is quite a logistical feat. Spring musical concerts, field trips, talent shows, class picnics, recognition dinners and other various school events must somehow be woven together with dance recitals, baseball games and soccer tournaments. What I once saw as a fun, easy dash to a well-marked finish line as a student is now, as a parent, a muddy, confusing, spiral-like course that I can only hope ends with some sort of finish line and at least a little refreshment before the next race begins in September. Still, assuming that graduation day truly comes as fast as my parenting predecessors say it does, I’ll just have to enjoy the run while it lasts.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.