This September, my oldest child is starting her final year of high school, so it will be my last time taking the requisite ‘Back to School photo’. It’s only in the last six or seven years that I have consistently taken a first-day-of school-picture—before that, I simply put them in their new(ish) clothes and sent them off to school.
I’ve never been able to pull off the fancy chalkboards, or hand painted signs with their grades and ages to document their Back to School milestones. Once our school year was delayed due to a teacher’s strike and when the day finally came, I completely forgot to take a photo at all. Now my online photo album is missing a year, and I feel the guilt over it every September. Who knew that social media pressures would contribute to moms feeling like they need to capture picture-perfect moments of the upcoming school year?
When my kids were small, social media hadn’t quite launched yet, and so the excitement of the first day revolved around them standing around the school yard, figuring out who their teachers would be, and catching up with friends. If I was lucky enough to get the morning off work, I could hang around with them and visit with other parents. Getting school supplies and new clothes usually followed over the next week, and I may have taken a photo or two, but most often not.
Now it’s not only picture perfection that moms like me feel pressured by—we also need to get the right school supplies, pre-ordered in pretty packets and delivered to the classroom or home prior to the big day. Or to take it one step further, getting sustainable school supplies that support a charity of your choice. There is an insane amount of pressure to do it right—and in a pretty and politically correct fashion to boot.
This year I have also seen more notifications in my news feeds about lunches—Pinterest-worthy, sustainable packaged, healthy and Instagrammable pictures of lunches. I always thought I was doing well if I had pre-purchased granola bars and fruit, and kept on top of getting fresh sandwich meat once before the week was over. While I do appreciate the time and effort it takes to make lunches that are healthy and attractive enough to make kids want to eat them, pre-planning all the bits and pieces is simply another thing to add to the ever-growing Sunday night scramble. Sometimes stopping at Subway before school seems like the easiest alternative.
So I will start this upcoming school year with the best intentions—I’ve got my new camera ready, and my girls know that we now have to make sure we have enough time for the ‘BTS photo shoot’. Since it is the last year we will be doing it with both kids, maybe I will do something crazy like getting those foil-balloons or confetti-poppers. Perhaps I should hire a local photographer to document the occasion?
Okay, let’s be honest. Realistically, we’ll be lucky if I manage to grab a few iPhone snaps from the car on their way into school. After all, with the pressure of a grad year ahead, this is just the beginning.