Shop the fall collection ➔

“Let’s go find a friend on the playground!” I said a little too brightly. 

My freshly-minted kindergartener kept wiping tears from her eyes with her sweatshirt sleeve as we crossed the parking lot.

“Good morning!” the playground monitor greeted us, also a little too brightly. “Let’s go play; see ya later, Mom!” 

I peeled my daughter’s small hand from my own and placed it in the teacher’s hand, smiling and waving as I turned away, walked back to the car, and heaved a heavy sigh. 

There are plenty of great things about school: Learning to read and write. Social interaction. Gaining independence. Youth sports teams. Life-changing teachers. Chicken patty on a bun and that strangely delicious rectangle pizza. 

But there’s something inherently hard for a mother about sending her kids back to school again. And I’m that mom who utterly despises it.

We relish the carefree summers in this house—more relaxed days, warmer weather, and a chance to take a collective breath as a family that’s usually so often on-the-go.

Going back to school brings an abrupt end to all of that, and I live in denial of it as long as humanly possible.

School means we’re thrust right back into racking up the miles on the family car hustling from one school activity to the next. It means sifting through papers and trying not to forget to send the form back for school pictures or when basketball sign-up is happening. It means the return of all those germs we mostly kept at bay with sunshine over the summer. 

I’ll concede that once we’re back in the swing of everything, we do take some comfort in its consistency—but easing back into the old routine takes something out of me every time. 

And beyond the surface-level struggles the school year brings about, there’s something deeper that unsettles me about a new year rolling around. 

As grateful as I am to watch my kids grow and thrive, I feel a tiny bit less needed in their lives—and selfishly, that stings. 

The rational side of me understands we, as mothers (and fathers), are not meant to be the center of our kids’ universe, just as they’re not meant to be the center of ours. These children we call ours are on loan from God, placed in our care to nurture, to love, to hold with an open hand. 

But the part of me that turned to mush the moment my first child was placed in my arms struggles to let them go at basically every turn, even when it’s good.

I look at the child lazily chewing a mouthful of granola at the breakfast table, and I still see the baby who gummed Cheerios there just yesterday.

I glance at the preteen adeptly fixing her own hair into a top knot and still feel the downy locks I used to smooth into wispy pigtails between my fingers.

I see the little girl shouldering a backpack fully half her size, and I remember the way her toddler version used to cover exactly half of me as we snuggled together on sleepy mornings. 

I see the way each one rises to the challenge of change—easier for some than for others, but accomplished just the same—and it fills me with that bittersweet concoction of joy and pain that is motherhood.

It forces me to rise to the challenge myself, like it or not.

And it leaves me temporarily and completely exhausted, in every sense of the word. 

So if you see me (and believe me, you see me in every single school in every last town this time of the year), I hope you’ll understand why my smile doesn’t quite brighten my whole face until sometime in mid-September, when I’ve had a minute to adjust.

For now, I’m reprising my annual role as the mother relearning her place in this part of life that refuses to slow down . . . and I’m doing the best I can.

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn has served as Editor-in-Chief of Her View From Home since 2017. A long time ago, she worked in local TV news and fell in love with telling stories—something she feels grateful to help women do every day at HVFH. She lives in flyover country with her husband and five kids but is really meant to be by the ocean with a good book and a McDonald's fountain Coke. 

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading

They Love Each Other (and Sometimes They Don’t)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toddler girl lying with big brother, color photo

When I was pregnant with his baby sister, Forest kissed my belly and talked about all the wonderful things he would do with this little girl he already loved so much. His plans changed, however, after she was born, and the thing he wanted to do the most with her was place her gently in the trash can. Some mornings he would kiss her softly, other mornings he would walk into the room where I’d be nursing her and say, “Her doesn’t look precious to ME.” Two and a half years later, Forest’s feelings toward Grace remain about the same....

Keep Reading

As a Mother, I Matter Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in living room

“What’s more important than me, Mammy?” my daughter asked. I looked at her, and she was looking at me. Her question wasn’t harsh or accusatory, it was curious. She was curious. We were in the kitchen, I was at the table working, and she asked me to help her find something. I told her I was finishing up some important work and then I would play with her. This is when she asked me what was more important than her. I bit my tongue to stop the words that wanted to rush out of my mouth. I wanted to proclaim...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Follow Your Beautiful Heart

In: Faith, Kids
Mother and daughter smiling

When I held you in my arms for the first time, it was like time stopped. As you looked up at me with innocence and new life, I was struck by the reality that my main role in your life would be to guide and direct you on the right path. I hoped I would do the best job possible. As I watched you grow, I basked in your joy of putting on your pretty dresses, adorned with layers of costume jewelry, parading around the house for your father and me to see. I dreamed often of what path you...

Keep Reading

My Daughter is “Extra” and the World Needs More People Like Her

In: Kids, Motherhood
girl jumping

She is . . . extra. She just is. All the time she is extra sad, and then extra “OMG, Mom-that-was-so-epic-let-me-tell-you-everything.” Extra energetic, then extra I’m too tired to help with any family chores. Extra hungry, then extra refuses to eat the food she just asked for because she’s full. RELATED: In Defense of the Wild Child Extra loves to show how much knowledge she has, then extra doesn’t want to do her homework because she’s too busy “being.” Extra defiant, then extra brings home adorable “I love you, Mom” art from school. There is no middle ground with this...

Keep Reading

Teach Your Kids to Be Kind to Those Who Are Different from Them

In: Kids, Living
Little boy with Down syndrome in pool

On the eve of Zeke starting kindergarten, I have many hopes for my youngest child, mostly that other kids treat those who are different from them with kindness. Or maybe with a slightly sassy, “SO WHAT?” to those who may be being unkind. This summer while on vacation we were having a great time swimming at a pool. There are few places that top a swimming pool in Zeke’s mind. He is SO happy in the water. Zeke was playing in the kiddie pool by himself while I sat at a table nearby. As he played, kids would enter the...

Keep Reading