This School Year, I’m Channeling ’80s Moms And Kissing Unnecessary Stress Goodbye

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“If your house is like mine right now, boxes are stacked floor-to-ceiling in the living room because Walmart will send 30 school supplies in 29 boxes, including an actual refrigerator box containing one pack of glue sticks. The smell of pre-sharpened pencils fills the air, triggering first-day-of-school worries, like whether we’ve gotten the right clothes, chosen a great song for our Instagram reel and created the perfect sign for our kids to hold up on the front porch.

Not. This. Year.

Do we not have enough to chew our nails over with our kids and their new teachers, new friends, new schools and — dare I mention — new COVID variants?

I was admiring a friend’s post of her gorgeous, not-school-aged baby the other day, sweetly lying on a baby blanket that said ‘Four Months,’ lined up next to her pictures from three, two and one month. It made me think of our moms in the 1980s. They did something similar, but FAR less complicated: There was ONE photo frame for each child, usually hung above a staircase, that had 13 oval openings — one for every year of kindergarten through 11th grade and one large oval for our senior picture. That’s it.

Every year, ’80s moms had one job, and yet, mysteriously, I have never seen a completed frame. There was always one empty oval. Always. But that’s neither here nor there. Our moms in the ’80s had it right.

This got me thinking: Could channeling my inner-’80s-oval-frame-mom make this year less stressful?

First of all, I’m done feeling bad about never getting that first-day picture Instagram-perfect. I do not have the will or creativity to create a chalkboard sign that says something along the lines of ‘It’s Aspercrème’s first day of fourth grade! Her teacher is Mr. Feeny, and her hobbies are playing the harp and solving the climate crisis.’ So I called Mom to ask her for a first-day-of-school picture of my brother, sister and me from the ’80s.

I’m the one who’s not looking at the camera.

Do you think my mom stressed out about it? I doubt it. She’d snapped a picture on the Kodak Instamatic, the bus came rolling down the road, and she was likely back in the house getting ready for her own day before we had even chosen our seats. Her job was done.

And what about lunches? I am so impressed by moms who fill bento boxes with rolled meats, cubed cheeses, yogurt, hummus and fruit. That must take a long time. I’ve never been able to get this one right. So I envision an ’80s mom taking a long drag off a Virginia Slim, while she tosses a PB&J and a strawberry Fruit Roll-Up into a brown paper bag (ensuring plenty of time for a well-deserved break that she’ll use later to watch Oprah or plug in a Richard Simmons VHS workout tape).

The ’80s moms supported their kids, but never called the school over a bombed test, a rough day, or a lost water bottle. We didn’t even have water bottles, so we kids were notoriously dehydrated — and we liked it that way.

We’re all in this together, so whether you’re a fancy chalkboard mom or a 12-out-of-13-ovals mom, I appreciate you and wish you a mundane, completely uneventful 2022–2023 school year.

Me? I’m going to grab some leg warmers and a cup of Sanka and hope for the best.”

three siblings in the 80s on their first day of school
Courtesy of Lindsay Chamberlin

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lindsay Chamberlin, a Florida mom and writer for The Community Paper, and originally appeared here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Lindsay:

I’m A 44-Year-Old Kindergarten Teacher, And A Few Days Ago I Decided To Start Living Like A Total Badass

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‘I asked her when vacation starts. ‘In a week. I’m DREADING it. I already lied to my church and said Nicholas was 5 so he could go to Vacation Bible School.’ This warmed my soul.’

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