A couple disclaimers before we get started:

Remember when “back-to-school supplies” meant your mom let you pick out a pencil box and a new binder?
Gone are the days!

A) Colorado has a crazy/extensive/detailed list of very specific items each student must have.
B) To make this list less painful you can order a kit (if you remember to do it in time). Really, it makes all the sense.

If you are not Super Mom and forgot to order thought you ordered the kit but it never showed up, here are the 5 stages of motherhood you may experience during back to school supply shopping:

1. The Optimistic Mother
The optimistic mother joyfully grabs the ever so detailed list and heads to the store to equip her children for a new school year full of knowledge and wisdom. On the way there they talk about the hopes and dreams of the upcoming school year and reminisce on the fleeting summer days. As she pulls into the parking lot she notices that it seems particularly full… they can’t all be here for supplies… must be a coincidence. Ok kids, let’s get this done and be the fruit of the spirit while doing so!

2. The Concerned Mother
The concerned mother shows up when she finds herself in a vicious game of bumper carts, item after item is not being found, and the baby (yes, of course she brought the baby) wants to eat all the crappy snacks they have so thoughtfully mixed in with the wide ruled paper and pencil sharpeners. There is a bit of panic– will we have to go to multiple stores? Will MG stop crying, like ever? But the optimistic mother is still there somewhere and calms her… Keep looking children, we can surely find that magenta folder, with 3 prongs/2 pockets, made of recycled water bottles and the dreams of the Optimistic Mother.

She also finds herself saying things like:
Watch the cart/baby/purse… I am going in!
This set-up doesn’t seem to be the most effective, why are all the supplies crammed into 2 isles?
Don’t we have 17 rulers at home? Oh, it must be clear and communist metric… I see.

3. The Survivor Mother
It becomes clear rather quickly that the school supply section is much like the survival of the fittest and out comes the Survival Mother. Alliances have been made, supplies must be retrieved, and it’s dog-eat-dog. Somehow the Optimistic Mother and the Concerned Mother didn’t notice the how all the other moms were scrambling frantically and yelling at their kids, or how all the children were crying, begging, or whining. Somehow OM and CM missed that bratty drama queen who was having a 16-year-old meltdown over her own 3 prong/2 pocket dilemma. So she gathers her tribe, tears that list in half, and sends the tributes out for battle.

Who’s on the magenta prong/folder thingy-ma-bob?
And can someone please entertain MaryGrace… sing to her or something.

4. The Irrational Mother
At this stage the parent is so irrationally angry at the list, the people, the school, the children, the store, the whatever that she is no longer thinking straight. She is just throwing supplies in the cart– 12 colored pencils, psh, it only comes in a 50 pack. Ticondera #2 pre sharpened pencils, I think not… Dixon is half the price (crumbling lead will build character and every 50 cents counts).

Why in the world do they need this many folders?
Has anyone found the magenta 3 prong/2 pocket nightmare?
Where is the cart/baby/purse? Oh yes, I still hear her crying.

5. The Champion Mother
She came, she fought, and she conquered that beloved list like a boss. The baby might still be crying and the kids might be miffed that they didn’t get the scented markers, but the list has been dominated. Today she is the queen of world school supply list. So, a bazillion dollars, 27 tantrums, and a sweaty t-shirt later… she hauls her kill and her surviving tributes to the check out stand.

But first… Starbucks.

And next year… the kit.

*This post originally appeared on christenspratt.com

Christen Spratt

Christen is the wife to one (he is the coolest engineer you will ever meet) and a mother to four (one from her teen pregnancy, one with epilepsy, one with SPED needs, and the fourth may or may not be related to the Hulk.) She is a recovering “perfect wife/mom,” up to her eyeballs in all things motherhood. She doesn’t have a Pinteresting life, she doesn’t cut sandwiches into dolphins, she doesn’t have a perfect marriage, and she regularly shares all this good/bad/ugly with her sweet readers over at http://christenspratt.com/. Christen is passionate about authenticity and frequently writes about the FaKebook phenomena, parenting, marriage, and faith while keeping a canny sense of humor. It is her heart to offer hope to other moms in the trenches. You can also find her on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/christenspratt, Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/christenspratt/, and Twitter - https://twitter.com/christenspratt.