a street of busy sf traffic
Julie Levine has mixed feelings about leaving behind the school year — but not about leaving behind the school year traffic. (Photo/Flickr-Bob Doran BB BY 2.0)

School years are hectic, but I know I’ll miss them

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May and June are bookended with September and October. The flurry of activity that ends the school year is just as busy as the months that begin it. Soon the kids will have completed another grade in school. One is graduating middle school. Another will start to think about college.

I think I made more than 100 lunches this school year and cooked just as many dinners. The kids are too old for me to make their lunches, but I do it anyway. I like to have a place where I can still fuss over them.

And no matter how rushed or harried I feel at the end of the day, I am utterly blissful when I am cooking dinner for my family. There are other places I could be and other things I could be doing, but on most nights I’d rather pick the bones out of salmon and chop radishes for a salad than be most anywhere else.

I can’t begin to count the number of miles I’ve driven between September and June. I complained about all the shlepping — picking up the kids from school and driving them to their afterschool activities, then turning around and picking them up again.

The traffic infuriates me. I’m often yelling at Uber and Lyft drivers who stop in the middle of the street without warning and cursing under my breath at all the construction and blocked lanes where I need to merge. Then there’s Van Ness Avenue, where you can’t make left turns anymore and, for some reason, I continually forget.

But the time in the car with the kids is the best. It’s the most precious time and my favorite time. And when it’s just one kid in the car, it’s like a little gift.

This school year, my hubby and I have begun to imagine a life for ourselves beyond the day-to-day of raising kids.

We tried to do our part to give back this school year. But I remembered the school coat drive after it was too late. I never baked for the school bake sale and felt horribly guilty. I missed the Science March. I tried to sign all the petitions my friends sent via e-mail, but there’s still some sitting in my inbox. I’ll do more next year, I promise.

October was the anniversary of my father’s passing, and June my sister’s. But we were thrilled to attend a baby naming in fall, and celebrated close friends’ birthdays in the spring: a 45th, a 75th and my 50th. I’ve learned how important it is to celebrate.

As parents, we were often stressed, ran in too many directions at once; we were late to business meetings, school meetings, dinners where we were guests. I worried far too much about the kids this school year; and everything else that needed worrying, I took on, too. There were many nights we fell asleep before the kids — early and too exhausted.

This school year, my hubby and I have begun to imagine a life for ourselves beyond the day-to-day of raising kids. There were always diapers to change, toddlers to chase, first-day-of-school special breakfasts to make, birthday parties to plan, cleats to buy, soccer games to cheer on, back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences and suddenly one b’nai mitzvah after another. Then high school and practice SAT tests, a first college meeting. We didn’t stop to think that the day-to-day will end. Not yet, but soon.

It’s all winding down now — the shlepping, the worrying, the nagging, the rushing and the lunch making. Summer will be a welcome respite. I want to watch movies with the kids, binge watch TV shows with them, too (if they’ll let me), go on date nights with my hubby, organize the pantry, make some photo albums, read lots of books and, of course, eat tremendous amounts of ice cream.

But mostly I want things to slow down. Can we stop time for a little bit? Before another school year passes by too quickly.

Julie Levine

Julie Levine is a writer who lives in San Francisco.