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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Checking off School Supply Lists...and Counting my Blessings

The day finally arrived. I proudly (and with misty eyes) watched my son and daughter walk into a new school yesterday. We were excited, nervous...and ready

Then it hit me how tired I was. A lot of work goes into getting our kids ready for the first day of school, doesn't it?

The preparations didn't begin the night before.  We dunked our kids in baths, laid out their favorite outfits, prepared school lunches, labeled possessions, filled out one more form, and zipped up the necessary folders and books for the next morning.  However, for over a week prior, I was also busy switching out shrunken clothes for new ones, as well as, driving to five separate stores in pursuit of the bullet-pointed requests from our first and fourth grade teachers:
  • 4 boxes of crayons &
    3 packs of markers
  • 20 glue sticks
  • 7 PACKS of pre-sharpened pencils *
  •  4 journals
  • 3 plastic folders with prongs (no paper please)
  • 3 packs of black, broad tip dry erase markers
  • 4+ pink erasers
  • 1 pack of cardstock paper
  • 5 three-ring binders with
    3 packages of tab dividers
  • 1 pencil pouch, plus 1 pencil box
  • 2 pairs of scissors
  • 1 yellow highlighter,
    2 black fine point sharpies
  • 2 packs of clear sheet protectors
  • 1 package of wide-ruled notebook paper...
The homework hasn't really even started yet, but I have already felt a few inches too close to overwhelmed when I looked through the kids' back-to-school supply lists.  Raise your hand if you were standing in a store aisle recently too. Let's go ahead an add that to our list of motherhood achievements (and bonus points for finding everything).

I didn't even include all of the details on my kids' supply lists!  There were specific brand names and colors and dimensions.  Finding all of the items was only half of the journey!  After Mom carried the shopping bags in, divided them between the kids, and checked off the lists, she still had to label the loot!  My son's first grade teacher asked us to unpack almost all of his supplies and write our child's name on every. single. item. Wait.  There's more... My daughter's fourth grade teacher requested pre-sharpened pencils, but the brand she wanted did not come in that condition.  So my ten-year-old and I rotated 48 pencils through a puny, little plastic pencil sharpener.  

I'm not bragging, but this mom clocked in some overtime over the weekend!

 Now, here is where perspective leads to gratefulness and the self-focused whining disappears.  I have to assume that the reason we get such demanding lists is because the school just doesn't have enough financial resources, and teachers have to compensate for the students who don't bring overstuffed plastic shopping bags on their first day of school. It must be like Christmas to educators!
  
Truth: I can bless others. 
I have to keep reminding myself that it's public school.  It's free.  In a small, but tedious way, I'm helping the teacher.  WE are supporting entire classrooms with our purchases and unpaid efforts. 

My son's teacher probably feels strapped for time while keeping up with school standards and meeting her own family's needs.  I can understand that. By assisting this first grade teacher, I hope that my son is receiving a fabulous education.

Also, my family had the money to purchase all of those glue sticks and crayons.  There's enough to house, clothe, feed my family, as well as, take us on shopping trips for new school supplies. That's extra.  It's a perk. I am thankful for checked-off supply lists and heavy backpacks on the first day of school. 

My blessings are abundant (that means, "more than enough).  Our opportunities to bless others, endless. We all find ourselves in positions to be generous to others or to receive the generosity from others.

YOU, moms, are generous- with every dime or minute given! For each of you out there who pounded the pavement, wore out a few Sharpies labeling school items, and couldn't sleep making sure every detail was just about perfect for the little ones' first day, remember that your good deeds are not wasted!

You are a blessing :-)
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