I am writing this in bed. It is 6:30 a.m. on a weekday morning. It is a school day, but my kids are in still sound asleep. Today we are playing hooky, or more accurately we are taking a mental health day.
When I was a kid, daily school attendance was more of a suggestion than a rule. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t value education; it was more so that they did not see the value in sending me to school on rainy days, or on cold days, or on the days they ran out of peanut butter. I knew that all I had to say was “I don’t really feel like going to school today,” and it was a done deal. Because staying home wasn’t a taboo, and often meant I had to babysit my younger brother, I rarely missed school. Were they evil geniuses or what?
My position on school attendance is not nearly as lax as my parents’. My children attend school daily, with the very rare early pick-up for an illness or a doctor’s appointment. They are teenagers and know that missing one day means, at the very least, a mountain of make-up work. However, there are days like today— days when our eyelids can barely part, when it’s cold and drizzly outside and sun has promised not to show itself at all.
It has been months of 5:30 a.m. alarm clocks, days filled with lectures, labs, projects and exams. For weeks they have been preparing for tests with acronyms such as FSA, EOC, and PSAT. They get home late after their countless club meetings and do homework until dinner time, and continue working on it with heavy eyelids until bedtime. The weekends are no less intense, filled with chores, school events, family gatherings, and undoubtedly, more homework. So, this morning I made the executive decision to let them sleep.
Every night I ask what is on their school agenda for the next day, “Any tests tomorrow? Do you have any presentations to do? Any projects due?” The answer, for once, was “No.”
Today, we will lounge around in our pajamas all day and watch an 80s movie on Netflix. I will order pizza and breadsticks and we will eat it off of paper plates in front of the television. I will toss in a few loads of laundry and wipe down the kitchen counters while they have a Mario Kart race (I am still on the clock, after all.) We will sit on the couch and research colleges while I stifle the tears and push down the lump in my throat.
When their friends get home from school, and the Snapchats start rolling in, I will let them barricade themselves in their rooms to text or Facetime or watch YouTube videos while I lie in bed and scroll mindlessly through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I may even take a little nap.
When my husband comes home, I will hand him a beer, point him toward the pizza and we will sit together in front the TV to catch up on all of the shows piled up on the DVR. I might even fold some laundry while we watch.
At the end of this glorious day, I will send the kids to shower, put on clean pajamas, brush their teeth, and wear their retainers before tucking my almost-grown-up teenagers into bed. I am, still their mommy, after all.
Tomorrow they are back to early alarms, projects, exams and after-school meetings. Tomorrow it is back to reality, but hopefully with a clearer mind and a rested body. I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow, but for now, I will let them sleep.