I’m ready

I’ve always found it interesting that the final stages of pregnancy are almost universally miserable– the cramps, the nausea, and the agonizing, mind-wrenching contractions are enough to make nearly every woman cry, “Bring on the sleepless nights, the diapers, the colic, the milk-soaked clothing! Just get this baby out so I can breathe again!”

And that’s what today has been like around here. “Bring on the homework, the projects, the soccer games, the tedious reading charts! Just get these kids off to school so I can breathe again!”

I’ve never understood those women who are calm and happy during the last days of pregnancy saying, “Oh whenever the baby decides to come, that will be fine.”( because I’m a screaming lunatic from 8 months on– ok, maybe from 1 month on). And maybe I’ve caused the same perplexity in others saying, “Oh I wish the kids didn’t have to go back to school yet!”

But I’ve switched sides; I can scarcely wait to wave goodbye tomorrow morning–“See ya! So long! Buh-bye!” I’ll turn on a movie for Mary, clear and wipe the countertop and mop the kitchen floor. I’ll put in two loads of laundry and know that the pile won’t grow significantly in the next seven hours.

They have officially BROKEN ME DOWN. Was it the smell of popcorn burning at 11 p.m. and it’s scattered remnants on the basement floor? Is it their favorite question of the past few days– “pick one mom. Can we watch The Dark Knight, play Halo or get a BB gun? (their fantasy is that I’ll get really tired and say ‘yes’ to one of those) Is it the melted popsicle trails across my kitchen floor and the bathrooms being use by so many boys (at least 20) that I don’t even know who to blame for the urine stained walls? Is it the fights that break out every three minutes over who stole who’s Lego pieces? It truly could be the mind-numbing back-to-school paperwork for 4 schools where I wrote my name address and phone number at least 100 times. Do they have inane paperwork like that in every state or just Utah? It’s the same stuff over and over and over…


All I know is that when one unnamed boy broke the blue spoon to the sugar bowl this morning I sat down and cried. And I couldn’t help but remember when Ben was 2 and his sticky-fingered little friend shattered my grandmother’s hand-painted china platter. I swept it up calmly telling his mother, “It’s just a thing. Don’t worry about it.”

She was so impressed with my grace and maturity– and so was I. I had a lot of answers back then; I’d pretty much figured the world out. I’d lost very little.

But now I think it’s OK, to break down, to mourn the loss of things— especially if they are your mother’s or your grandmothers– and to cry.

I’ve gone off subject haven’t I? And I know it’s not pretty to write about being unhappy, ungrateful.

But wait!

I am grateful, so so grateful that the school bell rings tomorrow morning. Maybe I’ll be able to breathe again.

August 20, 2009
August 24, 2009



  1. Our California Life

    August 24, 2009

    The paperwork is the same in California — but we have two weeks longer to fill it out thanks to the joy of going to school until mid-June! 🙂

    I love your posts, Michelle — I can totally remember the days when six children roamed the halls of our home! Hang in there, because as hard as it may seem to believe, before long there will come a day when you wish your home was filled with your children and their friends. I’m just grateful Jonathan still has a few years before he leaves the nest — he keeps Will and I young! 🙂

    I hope all is well with the Lehnardt Family!

  2. Mama

    August 24, 2009

    When they have broken me down, I cry over things like broken sugar spoons too. But what I m really crying about is the thought that nothing I have or am is sacred, that everything is vulnerable and fair game to the whims of little reckless hands. It makes me feel sad and unloved. I can’t help it.

    School started for us this past week, and oh, the quiet! The quiet is delicious. I enjoy my children more when they have structure and external stimuli. It is CHAOS and I can’t pretend to adore the schedules and deadlines and forms and obligations, but I do so enjoy the quiet!

  3. FoxyJ

    August 24, 2009

    I only have two, but they have spent most of the last month fighting tooth and nail. My little girl started first grade on Thursday and I have been so happy. There were no tears when I dropped her off, although getting used to the quiet with just her little brother around (he’s much more calm) has been kind of weird. And I understand what Mama said–for me it’s mostly the erosion of my personal space and personal treasures by those who really don’t understand it yet that it is hard to deal with.

  4. Michelle

    August 24, 2009

    Oh Mama– that’s it exactly! Nothing I have or am is sacred.

  5. Chelle

    August 24, 2009

    Darlin’, i am right there with you. I distinctly remember being exactly this ready for summer to start 3 months ago. I love the way that works. I love the schedule and structure of school and the lazy laziness of summer.

    And if I find one more otter pop wrapper on the floor…with the melted otter pop juice trickling out onto the tile, or couch, or table…seriously. Bring on the reading charts and book reports!
    xoxo thanks for writing this.

    Now let’s get together and eat bon bons this week. Deal?

  6. jennie w.

    August 24, 2009

    me too

    can’t write more

    too worn out

    tomorrow happy day

  7. Selwyn

    August 24, 2009

    It’s not pretty writing about being unhappy or ungrateful, but it’s honest. It’s therapeutic. It’s generally preferred to wringing some little darling’s neck as well.

    Enjoy your week being yours again!

  8. Reluctant Nomad

    August 24, 2009

    ‘I had a lot of answers back then; I’d pretty much figured the world out. I’d lost very little.’

    I love and hate my former all-knowing self (ok, so more hate than love, but I’m working on it).

    But sometimes I do dream to be so naive and hopeful again. Some days (not most, but some), I’d like to think I had everything figured out.

    But for now, I’m crying over the broken sugar dishes with you. Very aware of what I’ve lost. But, I’m left wondering..if I’ve gone from all knowing to knowing-nothing, what’s the next stage? It better be wisdom. Dang it.

  9. Christie

    August 24, 2009

    Don’t be fooled by my tear-induced post of last week. I am breathing easier now that mine are in school, too.

    I think Mama nailed it on the head.

  10. Tracy

    August 24, 2009

    “…they have broken me down…” such true words felt my mothers around the world. i am milk-stained, broken down and we still have 2.5 weeks before school starts. they will do me in completely by that time….
    xoxo, t

  11. Chelle

    August 24, 2009

    Michelle, I know you’re not a big t.v. watcher, so chances are you haven’t seen this commercial. It makes me laugh every time!




  12. Blue

    August 24, 2009

    two words: address labels. you know the free ones that you get in the mail all the time? i slap one of those on every slot asking for a name/address. shoot me, but what else are they good for?

    it was so crazy leaving this morning (can you blow my hair straight and curl the ends under mommy?) that the first day of car pool arrived before we’d said family prayers and i never took a photo of my oldest child heading off for her 1st day of junior high. she looked so pretty and happy and i wanted to capture that but just forgot while reading scriptures.

    now to get #2 ready. unlike #1, this one doesn’t have any interest in school, and in fact is dreading it and taking personal affront at the notion that he should ever have to go. sigh.

  13. Jan Russell

    August 24, 2009

    Hi. On the verge of 8 months pregnant AND my kids don’t start school for another week. Someone hold me.

    Michelle, I hope you have the best tomorrow ever!

  14. Glazier5

    August 24, 2009

    I’m with you…even with our measly 6 weeks of summer break, I’m ALWAYS ready to send them back! Can I blame it on the heat? Enjoy your day!

  15. Kira

    August 25, 2009

    You NEED the break…there was not a whole lot of “vacation” for you this summer. Enjoy!

  16. Jennk

    August 25, 2009

    Mama definitely summed it up. I can’t imagine waiting out the last few weeks of summer with 2x the kids. You are a terrific mother and a wonderful writer!

  17. martha corinna

    August 25, 2009

    I have that little bird and spoon. And it is kept far away from sticky fingers because I totally have the world figured out.

  18. Claudia

    August 25, 2009

    I stood outside in my robe this morning, hair in a bun, garments hanging out and sprayed the porch down with water just because it was was the one and and only thing I could say was clean for now.

    Was it you that I saw getting into your car at Smith’s at 11pm yesterday? I was there 3 times yesterday for this, that or the other. I am exhausted right along with you.

  19. Kerri

    August 26, 2009

    School started today for us. I felt terrible about it until yesterday when I told (yelled at) them that I was GLAD, DO YOU HEAR ME, GLAD THAT YOU’RE GOING TO SCHOOL!!!!! The camel’s back broke. I felt terrible that instead of a happy last day of summer, all I could do was yell…

    And then today came and everyone is happy happy happy. Ahhhh….school. I feel a bit of guilt. A bit. But mostly relief.

    And I’m so sorry about your broken spoon.

  20. Colter

    September 1, 2009

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Abi

    September 1, 2009

    My gosh I concur! I thought I would be so sad, but man I am so happy school has started! And I only have one gone, but hey three at home is easier than four!

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