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Why the last weeks of school have many parents crying ‘Mayday’

This past Wednesday started out like any typical day at the Brown household. The four older kids slowly woke up after a series of wake-up calls, then got dressed and ate breakfast before they were off riding their bikes to school.

After sending the kids off, I turned to look at the agenda for the coming days. It is May after all, and while the month is known for blooming flowers and singing birds, there is another thing it is notorious for, and that is a busy schedule filled with end-of-year activities.

As I looked over the schedule, I saw that in the next five days, we would have four soccer practices, a soccer game, three gymnastics meets, two pajama days and a school fun run. Furthermore, as luck would have it, my oldest son was set to be student spotlight, filling my whole next week up with all that comes with that.

I knew, however, that there was something else on the week’s agenda, but I couldn’t remember what it was. When I looked at a bright yellow paper to the side of the calendar, I saw “Ace’s Culture Festival at 1:00 on Thursday” written in bold permanent marker. Quickly, I transferred the note over to the calendar to make sure that I didn’t forget.

The strange but good news I found as I scanned the schedule was that there was nothing on the calendar for this particular day. No games, no programs, no meets … nothing. There was, of course, a trip to the store to pick up material to make a costume for my daughter’s upcoming school opera, but that was a minor wave in this otherwise clear sailing day.

So, I loaded up my younger two kids and headed to the store to get supplies. With plenty of time to spare before my kindergartener got home at noon, I decided to stop to get a treat for my 4-year-old.

When we got home, I was able to clean a few rooms and get laundry and dishes done while the baby slept, and before the three older kids returned home from school. This was shaping up to be a much-needed relaxing day.

That was, until the door opened at 2:30 and in came a very sad 7-year-old boy, tears streaming down his face and a big bandage on his head.

“You missed my culture fair, and why didn’t you answer your phone when the nurse called?” Ace said through quivering lips and tear-soaked eyes.

He then went on to tell me that during PE, he had been on the head-receiving end of a head-tooth collision. His head was bleeding badly and the nurse tried to call me, but the call went to voicemail. Upon checking my phone, I realized it had died without me knowing it.

I then ran to look at the paper on the refrigerator, and sure enough, I had written the day down wrong for his culture fair.

Right then, I hugged Ace and even shed a few tears myself. I checked his head wound; and although it was a pretty noticable bump and gash, it didn't look like it would need stitches.

I asked Ace if he wanted me to take him to the doctor, and he said he didn't. What he was most upset about was me missing his culture fair.

The ship on my smooth-sailing day had officially sunk, and I found myself yelling, “Mayday!”

Not only was I crying mayday, I was cursing this May day. Any other month and there would have been no way I'd have missed my son's fair. But due to the nature of May, there were too many things to do and I made a mistake.

In the last weeks of school, I suspect many other parents find themselves crying “Mayday!”, and succumbing to the undertow that tosses and spins them around in all sorts of directions, often spitting them out and leaving them disoriented.

Your Mayday distress call, however, may not be the end. With a few more May days ahead, redemption is just around the corner.

My redemption came in the form of four hours spent at the school watching my kids run laps at the fun run, and then eating school lunch — which I’d say is going above and beyond (I’m still tasting that chicken patty one day later).

No longer am I crying mayday, or cursing each and every May day that comes my way. My ship is still sailing, and will continue to sail right through to June — because that’s when this mom will finally catch some wind.

Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by her, “like” her Facebook page by searching “A mother’s Write” or visit her blogs, or