By Kelly Hines

The first week of school is glorious. My children wake up excited, their outfits carefully chosen. Breakfast is hot and nutritious, and eaten with joy and thankfulness. I pack their lunches with care, including nutritious and lovingly prepared whole foods. Into each one, I tuck a small, sweet note of encouragement.

By the time they return from Christmas break, the enthusiasm has waned. They’re a little grumpier upon waking, and breakfast is either cold cereal or a granola bar as they walk out the door. They’re buying lunch twice a week, and the notes are getting desperate. U R AWESOME! LOVE, MOMMY!

“Mom, you’ve told me I was awesome three times this week,” my 8 year old says, “Could you mix it up a little, maybe say ‘amazing’ every now and then?”

Now we’re down to thirty-three days left of school. I know it’s thirty-three days because even the (fantastically enthusiastic) second grade teacher has started a countdown. My kids, and me, and the teacher, and probably you, are completely over it.

My teenager rolls out of bed exactly ten minutes before she has to catch the bus. My younger kids bury themselves deeper under the covers and just yell, “NO!” when I tell them it’s time to get up. “You can eat breakfast at school,” I say as we speed to the bus stop. And lunch? I didn’t know it was possible to resent a lunchbox as much as I do right now.

Despite the fact that we’re all over it, the next six weeks are the busiest of the school year. Teacher appreciation and end of year gifts and EOGs and final exams and band concerts and awards days and Mother’s Day and, just for the hell of it, let’s throw another fundraiser in there. If you’re a teacher with school aged children, add in assessments and grades and you know, that whole teaching thing, and your workload is double.

It’s exhausting, but also exciting. I watched my 5 year old bounce his way through the Pikachu song, wearing a Spider-Man mask and a coonskin cap, during the preschool talent show. I love picking out a special something as a thank you to these amazing teachers who give so much of themselves to my children. And I love, love, love the last day of school.

The kids stumble through the front door, backpacks full of papers and pencil boxes and the headphones we thought we’d lost back in October. They throw off their bags and throw on their swimsuits and we descend on the pool, which immediately becomes our second home. They get up when they want, and stay up entirely too late, and go to bed smelling of sun. Their skin turns brown and their hair lightens and they eat a thousand pounds of food and grow 3 inches.

It is over too soon.

Sated with sun and excited for something new, the first week of school comes again. It’s lovely lunches and smiling faces and freshly sharpened pencils. Once again, it is glorious. For a little while, at least.