The email arrived in my inbox as it always does this time of year: the soccer carpool schedule, compiled by one of my fellow soccer parents. The familiar spreadsheet, with its neat rows and columns of practices and games, is both a practical document and a yearly ritual. It is also a sign of the impending logistical jiu jitsu that awaits me and other parents this back-to-school season.

August, as my wryest mom friend observes, is the Sunday of the year. It begins with pancakes, sunshine and good-time vibes. But as the month draws to a close, the shadows lengthen, the mornings turn crisp, and the errands and chores pile up.

Just as the “Sunday scaries” descend at the end of the weekend, you feel a sense of dread creep in during the last days of August. The routine of the school week looms, along with the onslaught of carpools, sports practices, games, events and after-school activities. The anticipation is palpable. There’s a reason, after all, that August has been ranked one of Americans’ top three least favorite months of the year.

But even as I’m bracing for a hectic and exhausting period, I remind myself that this time is painfully fleeting. My two daughters – one in middle school and one in high school – are growing up, and soon they’ll be off on their own adventures. The carpools will end, as will my afternoons on the sidelines of the soccer field.

I feel preemptively wistful and want time to slow down. I want to relish the annual pilgrimage to the temple of Target to procure school supplies, followed by the ritualistic organization session: sorting spiral notebooks, lining up paper, and admiring brand-new pencils and pens. I want to bottle the raucous, joyful noise of sweat-soaked teenagers singing Taylor Swift and housing Twizzlers in the backseat after a preseason scrimmage. And I want to savor those magical late August evenings, when the stars, weather, and work and practice schedules align – and we’re all home for dinner on the deck, and everyone’s in good spirits.

Does it seem as though I’m romanticizing these waning summer moments? Well, of course I am. It’s a survival tactic. Because as any parent of a teen and a tween knows, the daily grind can feel a bit like being trapped in a modernist novel: Sisyphean, monotonous and thankless.


The other day, I gently reminded my high schooler about household task I’d asked her to do. Her response was to grunt at me: “Bruh.” My 12-year-old, meanwhile, recently got her very first phone. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been transformed from mom to mere hologram: a faint, flickering image on the periphery of her distracted gaze, dismissed with the flick of a thumb.

Back when I was a teenager, long before smartphones were invented, my father used to half-jokingly say that I spoke to him with “an air of utter contempt.” I get it now, Dad.

But my daughters’ mercurial moods won’t last forever. (She writes, with the barest veneer of optimism, trying to reassure herself.) My kids will mature and grow out of their angstyness, emerging as fully formed, independent adults. (She pauses, trying to believe her own words. Trying not to think about how these ‘”independent adults” will one day move out, leaving a house that suddenly seems too big and too quiet.)

That’s why I’m leaning into the late August madness. I will do my best to ignore the eye-rolls and drama, and instead embrace every sliver of connection, every shred of affection and every last bit of togetherness.

So bring on the dance of dropoffs and pickups, and sign me up for all the soccer spectating – even in the rain. In the meantime, I’ll be stockpiling Twizzlers. I’m ready for you, September.

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