Battle hymn of the CPS mom

My back-to-school motivation is shot to hell.

I haven’t done the shopping.

I lost the supply lists.

I don’t know when the buses are set to arrive.

As mentioned in previous posts, I have three kids in three different CPS schools. Two of them are on Regular Track, and one is on Track E (year-round, shorter breaks). Communication packets and subsequent retractions of communication packets arrive weekly. Because I do not own a date stamp, I could not tell you what the current thinking is on any school issue.

Instead, I’ve been ignoring it all and watching “Maury Povich.”

This is not who I normally am as a mother. I view education as the Holy Grail. I supplement my kids’ brain development with chess and music lessons. I love flashcards more than life itself.

This year is different. The fire is gone. And I’m not sure why.

With one full week of Track E under my belt, I patiently tolerate the broad window for when Joey’s bus arrives. It could be 8:30. It could be 9:15. I’ve taken to making bets with my middle son on when exactly the bus will appear. It keeps things interesting. Plus, I’m up $1.25.

Last year, I grew irate over the irregular and unpredictable pick-up times. Getting three kids out the door starting at 6:45 a.m. did not allow for unreliable lapses in the schedule.

Things have changed. I am so “whatever.” There is not a single blip in the old blood pressure.

Last year, I complained incessantly about the supply lists that had me purchasing enough items for a classroom of kids as well as an entire janitorial department at a major university. I was buying bleach, postage stamps, Windex and clipboards. I was half-convinced I was subsidizing the Census department’s administrative office as well as fingerprint removal for “The Bean.”

Not now. I figure I’ll send the kids to school with a couple of pencils and hope for the best.

Last year, I had all of the fall activities carefully mapped out. Yet with the new, longer day, many of the Chicago Park District’s activities start before my kids even get home from school.


With a looming teachers’ strike, petitions for new start and stop times, and a plethora of uncertainty running amok in CPS, I haven’t even mustered enough interest in my kids’ scruffy hair to arrange for cuts for the first day back to school.

Whenever that is.

I no longer call the Board of Education. They are wary of me (and I think I may be on their security watch list due to some unfortunate rants about last year’s bus service). I no longer scour each of the school’s websites for information and updates. I don’t even know who the teachers are for the different grades.

Despite the wonderful educators, staff, and parents I have encountered through the years, my passion is diminished. Uncertainty is paralyzing. It is why I have not yet bought the supplies or scheduled those haircuts. It is why I don’t get upset when the bus never comes.

Tiger Mom has been replaced with Tired Mom. The battle hymn is muted, the warrior weakened.

And all my neighbors keep dropping off Catholic School registration forms.

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