How to survive back to school crazies with toilet paper and some disappearing ink. And wine.

Back to School time. My talented friend, artist, author and all around amazing person Cristine is guest posting on my blog today. I'm blessed to "share a wall" with her at my studio. We laugh daily. Her writing brings me to tears...the good kind. And after saying to her for the millionth time, "Cris, you should post this", I'm just taking the liberty (with permission). If you have kids. If you're in the middle of back to school. If you're ready to start drinking at 7am. What? Mimosas people. You need to read this. Trust me. Cris is on "my list". Read on and you will COMPLETELY understand. Cristine Grimm began life as a performer. She sang before she talked, always wrote like a fiend, and dreamed of playing clarinet in a symphony. Until she grew up and got practical. Then came college, a degree, a management position at an obscenely young age, blah, blah blah. Marriage, motherhood, and a car accident around 40 changed everything, and a career as a jewelry artist and teacher began. Her jewelry business, SilverFire Studios, remains important, but now, at age Not-40, all the one dimensional focus feels pretty constrictive. As she told someone recently, her censor is on walkabout while her inner child throws a hissy fit in the corner. Time to embrace it all. Including that insistent writer’s voice left abandoned in a corner many years ago. Welcome to her world. _______________________

For some reason I have free time, so I think I’ll write. Because in my world, free time usually means “take all the stupid, crazy, crap jobs you hate but have to do anyway because you’re a self-employed mom of teenagers who apparently doesn’t do anything” and insert them into the list.

You know The List. You have one. It’s the one you must keep but never gets done. The Revolv-a-List. This list doesn’t fit on a sticky note, no matter how small you write. This list makes you wish toilet paper were thicker, because that’s always where you are when you think up all the new stuff that’s not on the list. Except in my house, where your first thought in this situation is “Where’s the damn toilet paper????!!!!!”

back to school survivalSo let’s assume that your list is on some sort of paper. Why? Because if your life is so organized that it fits in an electronic device that remains charged, and you actually have said device in your possession when it’s time to add to the list…I dislike you. Truly.

Simple. Quick. Nothing personal. Just capital D for Dislike.

Because in my world, free time usually means “take all the stupid, crazy, crap jobs you hate but have to do anyway because you’re a self-employed mom of teenagers who apparently doesn’t do anything” and insert them into the list.

If you’re in the category of women who usually have working electronics, either your kids are still little and cute, you were smart enough not to HAVE children, or you’re one of those permanently happy empty-nest moms who tell me to “treasure these moments because they grow up too soon”. Doesn’t matter. I Dislike you.

When the school converts completely to electronics and stops sending home buy-lists that require yearly purchase of 100 pens, 5 composition books, 10 single subject spirals, 2000 3x5 cards, a backpack to carry the Chromebook in, and an “organizational system” I’ll believe in electronic lists.

Until then? Paper, baby.


Your PAPER list has at least 50 things on it, plus another 50 in your head, because

a) you got too tired of writing or

b) you were in the bathroom. Hello…focus! or

c) you heard the “you have to prioritize” lecture from your Significant Other just one too many times and rather than killing him/her, you chose to truncate the written part of the list. It’s a sacrifice, but no one will ever say you weren’t dedicated to your relationship. And when 10 lbs of chocolate accidentally leaps into the grocery cart, you can honestly say “Where did that come from? It wasn’t on the list!”

Note to newbies. You can gauge the level of your partner’s relationship commitment based on their response to random and unexplainable appearances of chocolate and wine.

Committed spouses bite their tongues.

Truly committed spouses bite their tongues and deliver. Just sayin’.

Your list is laser focused. It’s separated – kind of like grocery aisles – with similar things grouped together. It’s probably even divided into calls, errands, must-dos and the ever present “if-I’m-not-too-exhausted” section.

Note to newbies. You can gauge the level of your partner’s relationship commitment based on their response to random and unexplainable appearances of chocolate and wine.

Might even be color coded for emphasis or happy distraction.

And maybe for added motivation, cuz you and I both know the caffeine based pseudo-motivation packed inside that mega-doodle-choco-carma-fat-free-froth-a-froo--froo isn’t going to last past noon. And then what will you do?

Ask for help? Heck no. Remember…your S.O. has priorities. And you can’t get help from your school-mom friends. You just confuse them, because they have perfect lives. Just read their Holiday Letters. They’ll tell you.

If you’re like me, your list says desperate things that keep you sane, like “Buy the freaking milk AGAIN”. Followed by “Repeat”. Aaaaaand “Again…you idiot!”

Next on the list? The ever helpful “Don’t forget the #^$%ing milk!!!!”

It NEVER says. “Write the Our Life is Perfect holiday letter.”

OK…it says it. But I always forget to write down the part about mailing it.

And no one has invented an omni-present substitute for stamps.

Bear with me. I have a point.

I think.

If I can remember what it was.

Should have put it on the list.

Oh! Wait!

Back to School!!!!!! Yup. That’s it.

I know the myth says moms rejoice at back to school time. We frolic and dance, spreading sunshine down the Staples aisle because we just LOVE school that much. And buying bras for a 13 year old in 90 degree weather is SO MUCH FUN!

So. What do we REALLY think about back to school?

Let’s start with this… If you’re one of those moms who post pictures of your designer clad high school kids on the first day of school, please note: Our previous Dislike has morphed. We’re up to hate. We hate you. Not the burn down your house kind of hate. More like the she’d better not ask ME to volunteer for PTA kind of hate. You have too much time on your hands and WAAAAAY too many perfectionistic tendencies. PTA with you would be ugly.

Early Elementary moms…don’t panic. We don’t hate you. We WERE you. Back when we still had some money, our children were cute, and we didn’t fantasize about burying them in the backyard and getting away with it.

Oh, you didn’t know? Aren’t you sweet!

Every mom of a high school aged kid has a secret list somewhere. It’s not the grocery list, or the jobs list, or the errands list. It’s the super- secret friends list. Written in disappearing ink. This list is very short, and includes those special women we’re pretty sure will help us cover up a capital crime either because we already helped them commit one, or they’re just THAT kind of friend.

If your kid’s in kindergarten and you don’t have one of these friends, make one. NOW.

I recommend the mom of the ADHD kid. Invite her child to every birthday party and an occasional overnight. She’ll keep all your secrets. Better yet? Find the mom with the super-bright but doesn’t-fit-in-the-industrialized-education-box kid. Buy her one of those frothy latte things every week, listen to her worries, and tell her she’ll survive. Daily. She’s the woman who will not only keep the secret, but do the deed. Guaranteed. Or so I heard.

I also suggest this: if you know a high school mom and she tells you she doesn’t have this list… Run.

She lies. And she’s probably drunk. She’s a drunk driver. You could die in the school parking lot before you even got to the frothy latte thingy drive-thru.

Oh, wait. You have a kindergartner. You haven’t learned that you’ll probably die in the school parking lot anyway. Best advice? Arrive at the drop-off lane and just MOVE FORWARD. Perhaps you’ll live.

And if you drive your kids to school and have any naïve and twisted belief that you will never swear in front of those dear, sweet children, just wait. You will. Loudly. On the day the superintendent decides it’s fun to “connect” while waving an ineffective flashlight in the morning-dark near your open car window. And you won’t say something simple and inoffensive like the Perfect Moms. Nope. You’ll dive in with something really classy like “Move the $%^& forward!”


By the way…that wasn’t me. It was a former friend.

But you should buy wine now.

Speaking of drinking…If every kindergarten mom bought stock in her favorite wine on First-Day-of-School-Picture-Day, more women would be independently wealthy when Properly Prioritized Spouse runs off with the fun chick who doesn’t have stretch marks and never screams at the thought of Pinterest lunchbox recipes. Just sayin’.

I’m really wandering here. I intended to talk about office supplies, and graphing calculators, and school clothes, but let’s be real. We have only 6 days until school starts in Michigan.

6 days.

6 days people!

Somehow I have to soak up some beach time before I freeze to death, learn how to cook, clean my house, untangle all the phone chargers, find clean underwear for EVERY person in the household ON THE SAME DAY, and write 25 checks for t-shirts, yearbooks, and Purell, all while maintaining a happy attitude.

I’m exhausted. The office supply discussion will have to wait.

Where’s the wine?


You can find Cristine on Facebook at


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