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Erin Stewart shares how every year she starts the school year with lofty goals of being on top of everything.

As the summer ends and the kids head back to school, we have a special visitor in our home: Back-To-School Super Mom.

She’s an elusive creature who comes but once each year. If you blink, you’ll miss her for she only stays until about October, sometimes November if the warm weather holds out. And then she’s gone, almost as quickly as she came.

Perhaps you have a Back-To-School Super Mom in your house each fall. You might recognize these telltale signs:

• She comes about two weeks before school starts in a tizzy of back-to-school shopping. She organizes glue sticks and pencils in adorable plastic containers and maybe even labels things with Sharpie markers. She prints and laminates chore charts for the year that will be rigorously enforced until she vanishes mid-fall, leaving the chore charts unmarked and the plastic containers inexplicably filled only with broken crayons.

• She is serious about making a homemade lunch. Nothing will stand in the way of giving her children the best, most love-filled sack of food every day forever. She looks up adorable recipes, writes a daily haiku on a Post-it for her child to read while eating her homemade fruit kabobs. This is, of course, only until she’s gone and her kids have to drag themselves to the school lunch line and pray that regular mom remembered to put money in their account.

• Back-To-School Super Mom has a system for everything. Her calendar is timed to the minute like a synchronized swimming routine. She signs every paper that comes home and has a well-oiled process for incoming library books, outgoing permission slips and anything else that her children bring home in their well-organized backpacks. Don’t get too used to it, though, because in a few months, she’ll be getting reminder emails from teachers about missing field trip forms and will be salvaging report cards smooshed to the bottom of backpacks and soaked in what appears to be a pear residue remnant back from the home-lunch glory days.

• And perhaps the signature hallmark of the Back-To-School Super Mom is that you can count on her to be there on the first day, taking pictures while her darling little one waves at the door with her wrinkle-free first-day outfit and matching Pinterest-worthy braid that spells out “Ready to Learn!” across the back of her head.

When you see this mom, don’t judge her. Every year, without fail, I am her. Even though I know good and well that by the time the leaves start to fall, I’ll be zooming up to the curb on two wheels because we’re late and my child will jump from the car wearing yesterday’s mismatched clothes and hair that hasn’t been brushed in a week.

Trust me, I know good and well that being a back-to-school super mom for nine months is unsustainable. Yet, I do give it my all every single year, believing this is the year I can keep it up. This is the year the daily lunch-making won’t defeat me. This is the year we’ll get up early and be on time. Mark my words — this is the year we actually sit down together and eat breakfast.

So, let me have these few weeks where I’m actually on top of things. Let me bask for a fleeting moment in the glory of being the mom who has it all together.

2 comments on this story

Because soon enough, Back-To-School Super Mom will be gone. Regular mom will take her place with her sweatpants and excuses. In truth, she’s not so bad. No, there will be no fruit kabobs and haikus come Christmastime, but regular mom makes sure she’s always there to give a hug after school or talk through the day at bedtime with her kids. She may not have it all together, but being amazing all year wouldn’t be fair to back-to-school super mom anyway.

Besides, she’s got to take a little breather before May, when she’ll be back for her brief but manic annual visit as fun-in-the-sun super summer mom.