Dear School Secretary, I’m Better Than This

Can moms get excuses too?

Dear School Secretary,

I so hoped to get off to a good start with you this year. As the gatekeeper and decision maker on the important dispatches that go on all day, you are in a unique position to judge the relative urgency of each call and package. You see our frantic faces when projects are due and you witness our shame when it’s time to write a lunch money check so our poor kid doesn’t have to eat the cafeteria’s sympathy cheese sandwich.

Like every year, I have begun with the best of intentions to do my part in the well-oiled machine that is the school day. No drama from me! Yet already I have come to the office – on two separate occasions – to deliver essential things that were forgotten, only not by me. I realize this is a strike against me just the same.

I’m not making excuses. I do hold the kids responsible for their own assignments; it’s just that these assignments have a way of becoming mine, or at least shared. Heavens, the first grade of the school year was the completed parental assessment of the student’s challenges and learning style. You realize there was no short answer for that, right? And that mom and dad took days to piece together a dialogue of our child’s educational predicament in brief cell phone snippets between hustling to practices and renting band instruments? Besides, such an assessment really had to be returned to school in a sealed envelope. The kid can read, and we’re trying to hide our sense of hopelessness.

But enough about my nearly missed assignment. I want you to know I’m better than this. I have routines.  We set out book bags the night before. We go over the next day’s plans and agenda even as we brush teeth, tuck in, and let the dog out one last time. I have a special in-box for school correspondence and a color coded wipe board for arranging carpool and other after school activities. Some days it just doesn’t work. Why not? You tell me. Please.

Surely I’m not the only parent whose systems fail from time to time. Surely those other cars in the fire lane are also parents reeling from a panicked phone call about a missing permission slip or the other regulation jersey, whichever one isn’t the one we have in our possession right now. Someone else must have to reschedule ortho appointments because of unanticipated conflicts.

Please don’t give up on me, madame school secretary. The next time you see me, I have high hopes I will not be alighting from a car with hazard lights blinking. Maybe I’ll be helping with a class party or fundraiser, something positive like that. I’ll seem relaxed and in control. You will begin to think of me as a mom that has it together, dependable for perhaps a small volunteer task.

I desperately need you to believe in me. The orthodontist has already written me off.