There are two days each year in a mother’s life when she is the most organized. Unfortunately, those days deteriorate into despair, disillusionment, and the total disintegration of life as she wished it to be.

Those two glorious days of hope, dreams and organization are the first day of summer vacation and the first day of school. The first day of summer is probably the saddest since after everything falls apart there is only survival until the last week of summer marked by frenzy and exhilaration at the thought of the kids being in school.

Last year one of my daughters, with five kids 8 years and under, planned that each day would have a different theme — cooking day, pool day, having friends over day, field trip day and craft day for example.

It was a good dream and plan. I think it lasted a couple of weeks and then she was just getting through each day as she struggled to keep kids away from screens, fold the mountains of laundry and keep them from climbing up the shelves of the pantry where the chocolate chips are hidden.

(I need to tell them they can reach them with the broom handle and catch them as they fall if they are quick enough.)

I used to start off organized and hopeful too, then I just gave up and made it up as I went along. Keeping seven kids fed was a monumental task. As the kitchen was finally cleaned up, it was time to start cooking for the next meal. Then one son always had “pre-meals.” It was endless. But none of them starved to death and I’m proud of that star in my crown.

I visited a home once when I was first married that housed seven kids. The kitchen had a jar of peanut butter sitting on the counter. Nothing else. That was the vision I always kept before me, but I never achieved it. That lone jar of peanut butter haunts me to this day.

In my day of school vacations, the big struggle was keeping them from watching TV all day long. CHIPS came on every day at 12:30 p.m. and I tried so hard to keep them from vegetating in front of the TV for that hour. Now I wish I’d just sat down and watched it with them back when Erik Estrada was so handsome.

So much that seemed important then doesn’t seem so now. I wish I’d cared less about what the house looked like and just enjoyed being with the kids, who now live so far away. I haven’t even cleaned off the little handprints from my deck door from company we had over the weekend. Those handprints mean children were here.

I just texted my daughter-in-law with two older girls, whose last day of school was yesterday, and 2-year-old triplets, and asked how her first day of summer vacation was going.

They live in Northwest Arkansas and were under a tornado warning. They were huddled around the closet under their stairs.

She said, “We’re watching TV outside the closet. I got up the guts to go to Chick-Fil-A and then it started to pour. I’ve never seen so much rain. Then the tornado sirens went off. I got all the kids in the car in the thunderstorm and it was raining so hard I couldn’t see, so it took forever to get home and we were all soaked. But we have Chick-Fil-A! Except for the ice cream. I didn’t want to risk our lives for ice cream.”

It sounds like maybe she’s starting off at the bottom of summertime hope and can only go up!

Then by the time summer is over, moms are full of dreams on how the school year will run smoothly. Homework will all be done before dinner and screen time, papers will be signed and put in book bags and the fridge is stacked with yogurt and fruit for breakfast.

One year I connected plastic crates against the wall for all the kids to use for their school supplies and shoes. In just a few weeks, maybe one, all the book bags were on top and the shoes in front. The crates were empty except for a scary spider web. I didn’t try that again.

I went into survival mode again until the summer rolled around and it was time to get organized for the first day of summer vacation.

Basically, what I’m saying is that moms should enjoy the two days each year they are organized. Then if and when it all falls apart, have a good chocolate chip cookie recipe for the worst days and try your best to enjoy the kids.

Elzey is a freelance writer for the Register & Bee. She can be reached at or (434) 791-7991.

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