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Family Matters
Back to School

by Dena Blizzard

If you’re like me, you’ve just finished a marathon of “back to school” cleaning, Goodwill donations, school shopping, math packets and speed-reading the summer book requirements. I always have the best of intentions, but the beginning of the school year inevitably sneaks up on me. In my dreams, my family and I have just returned from a relaxing vacation in the tropics and we come home ... to a clean house, filled only with stuff that we need, and we pick up the last few items needed to start the school year with a sense of calm and excitement for another year of stern and thoughtful education. In reality, I barely put my foot into a pool this summer, I had one day to clean out all my closets, buy school clothes and supplies and I’m disturbed by the inexplicably small amount of underwear I found in my kids’ drawers.

I am also amazed by the expectations of my kids. Since the beginning of August they have talked about school shopping— not the pencils and binders mind you— but the clothes shopping. They picked out the stores they wanted to visit and the items they wanted to get and I thought, “Man, this must be nice.” I wish once a year someone would spend a few days just preparing me for my next year, taking me to stores and creating “outfits” or heading to the salon to talk about my “look” for the upcoming fall. How many moms do that? NONE! You know what an “outfit” is in my mind? A top and bottom that are clean at the same time (matching is not a requirement).

Do you know how much more “put together” I would seem if someone was in charge of making that happen? It would be so exciting! I could pull out pages from my favorite magazine (which is Consumer Reports, so that might be hard) and I would discuss my new haircut options (although there are not a lot of options that work with “messy ponytail”).

Imagine if someone asked me if I want to take dancing lessons? Or tennis? Or cooking classes? Instead of rolling my eyes in disgust, I could contemplate whether I wanted to have tighter thighs or learn how to make chicken more tender for dinner. Oh, the possibilities! AND the LUNCHES! The glorious lunches, made every day, based on my particular tastes. Miraculously ready at the door for me every morning. I mean sure, I’d have to learn math and history again, but I failed those once ... I could do it again!

Wouldn’t it be great if there was some kind of “Mom prep” for the school year? New outfits. New haircuts. Just something to help us also rev-up for the upcoming school year, filled with obligations (that aren’t ours) and hours of sitting in carpool lines and foregoing hot dinners. I know it will never happen, but I think it’s important to do something for ourselves. If we don’t take the time to care for ourselves, then we really aren’t good to anyone.

This summer was a prime example of being too busy to take care of myself (perhaps my worst example). I’ve been busy preparing for my “Chardonnay Go” board games to arrive, my son had surgery at Children’s Hospital to fix his pectus excavatum (it sounds like a Harry Potter affliction, but it’s a real thing) and I’ve been running my kids to every theater camp and sports practice under the sun. I could use a break, a haircut, a massage, a drink—anything.

The good news is, there’s still time. It’s only September. Find a class that you’ve always wanted to take, go back to school, relax with some yoga or grab a glass of wine and join me for Tipsy Tuesday. (That’s my Facebook Live show on my “Dena Blizzard” fan page every Tuesday at 9 p.m. The only rules: You must be in pajamas, you can’t be wearing a bra and you must have your favorite drink in hand. That’s it. It’s joyful, it’s light and it’s every Tuesday.)

Do yourself a favor and do something for yourself. Make a commitment to do something you’ll look forward to each week. Grab a friend and make a commitment (having someone to guilt you into attending is helpful.) I’m not great at this myself, but I figure if I write an article about it, I’m essentially committing myself to doing something. And if all else fails, join me on Facebook and we can have a glass of wine and drink to our failures together.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 6 (September, 2017). 
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