It was the first week of August when the email arrived to my already overflowing inbox to alert me that “picture day is just around the corner.” Liars! I don’t know about you moms but “right around the corner” is not synonymous with “a full month away.” And in my world—which is admittedly less organized than many—picture day photo packages are chosen and payments are made the night before or the morning of. NOT a month in advance.
But this brings me to a larger reality that most moms—and many dads—face as the summer comes to a close. After a few months mostly free of the mental overload that defines parenting school aged children in 2019, it suddenly comes roaring back with a vengeance.
I admittedly have brought some of this upon myself — this year, my three children will be attending school in three different zip codes. This adds an added layer of crazy to be sure—three different picture days, three different school calendars, three different dress codes and about a million usernames and passwords that have already pushed me a little over the edge and school hasn’t even started yet.
I need a username and password to access report cards and schedules from the district school. I need a username and password to put money in all of their lunch accounts. Earlier this summer I had to email Khan Academy because I couldn’t make heads or tails of all the accounts linked to my gmail account and my youngest needed to log in to do his summer homework—turns out the one he is supposed to be using isn’t even linked to me at all. The school picture company—LifeTouch—has a user friendly website that theoretically makes payment easier and quicker than writing a check but alas, they’re asking for my username and password too. And now, with my oldest starting at a new school, I have to create an account on their parent portal too. (I have shared my thoughts about parent portals in the past here.)
It goes without saying that online access is a convenience. You can be sitting in the car waiting for a practice to end or in the waiting room at an appointment for yourself and with just a click, the to-do list shrinks—a win for sure. (Well, except when you are completing the task on your phone and right when you about to hit “send” or “order now” or “confirm,” the phone rings because your husband wants to tell you about the awesome meal he just had.)
Despite the convenience, however, there are high intensity times of year that, when taken all at once for multiple kids it is easy to find yourself on the verge of hurling the laptop out the window or into the nearest pool. And the swearing? Yeah, that can be bad too.
I know what you’re thinking—why doesn’t this lady use a password app like the rest of us organized folks? This ISN’T hard.
And therein lies the rub. People—and parents—are so different that for some, every password and username is neatly written on some piece of paper that always stays in the same spot. Or, they have wisely taken advantage of an app that keeps them “password ready” at all times.
I admittedly do not hold a membership card for that group. I’m just not their kind.
The rest of us hope to God, as we are typing in a URL, that our computer or phone will remember everything for us and deliver us to the promised land of school lunch accounts and schedules and Khan Academy. And when that doesn’t happen, we begin to furiously type in all of our favorite passwords hoping that, by some miracle, we will crack the code. Then, as the website senses we aren’t exactly sure of our login info, we will begin counting the number of the stoplights we see in the pictures they’ve provided to ensure we aren’t a robot. And we will get that question wrong too because, for some reason, they make that task way harder than it should be.
At this point, we wonder if “are you f**** kidding me” or “I have no f**** idea” could possibly be our using name and password. We try that. It doesn’t work but it does make us feel a little better.
So good luck my fellow parents as you begin the school year, swearing at your laptop and finding yourself in line at the grocery store suddenly saying “Oh Shit” when the sight of the cashier’s khaki pants reminds you that you forgot to order uniform pants and school starts in a week. No biggie—your kid only grew 3 inches since last year.
So here’s to all you moms and dads getting ready to dive into the deep end of “back-to-school” madness. If you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, just remember that there are plenty of us in the same boat who will consider it a victory if we don’t take a baseball bat to our computer or cause a major scene in Target or Staples sometime over the next week.
Cheers to all of you doing your best and keeping it real.