Is it January yet? Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall season. It’s by far my favorite of the four with its’ crisp, cool, cute boot weather. I love all the holidays that fall brings and I look forward to celebrating them each year with the traditions I’ve worked hard to create for our family. But it’s only mid-way through the month of October, we’ve only had one official “cold front” (high of 73, seriously?), and I’m already suffering from holiday season burnout due to the never-ending list of October responsibilities and expenses.
When did October become the new December, anyway? I remember October as being the kickoff to a 3-month long season of football game partying, Christmas shopping, hot-chocolate sipping, holiday house decorating, new boot wearing good time. (Fyi, shoes are important to me.)
But that was when I had the luxury of time. Back when every second of my days, evenings, and weekends weren’t scheduled with a commitment that wasn’t even really my commitment. I was kid-less and free to do whatever I wanted. There was no putting my leisurely cup of hot cocoa or those beautiful boots I’d been eyeing on the back burner because of soccer games or the sudden need for new hockey equipment. Not only did I have the gift of time, I had the extra money to do whatever I wanted since I didn’t have to pay for the jaw-dropping number of kid-related October expenses.
Like the fall school fundraiser. Or wristbands to attend the school carnival. Or the monetary class party donations. Or school t-shirts. Or school carnival booth donations. Or working (or paying someone else to work) the school carnival. Or church bazaar silent auction basket donations for CCE. Or baseball concession stand duty. Or the school carnival silent auction basket donations. Or the book fair. Or school pictures. Or soccer pictures. Or jersey day or coloring contest participation fees. Or Halloween costumes. Or birthday parties (both attending and hosting, since H’s is this month).
Sure, some of these costs are only a few bucks, but multiply each of these by two, three, or more, if you are lucky to be so blessed, and it quickly becomes outrageous. I put my foot down on the book fair orders, only allowing each of the kids to buy one book this year. They complained and I felt bad and thought how insane it was that I was restricting them on books. But something has to give, so it may as well be my kids education, right? This October over-spending has reached an obnoxious new level and I am very close to flipping my lid.
Maybe it’s my fault for not thinking about all of these incidentals when I decided to have kids. Sure, I thought about the cost of diapers and formula when I was pregnant. I thought of the cost of buying my teenagers a car. Chris and I both thought about how the heck we would pay for college, if, by the grace of God, it even turns out that our kids are smart enough, well-rounded enough, and have enough extracurricular activities to actually get accepted to a college these days. But the October over-spending was not even on our radar. Someone really should have warned us.
At least some kind friends, who are the parents of teenagers, informed me recently that this is only the beginning. It apparently gets much worse from here on out, so I better buckle up. I thank them for giving me something to really look forward to–a day when I’ll look back at this ignorant little rant of mine with a heartfelt longing, thinking of how good I had it then when my expenses were simple, like book fairs and school pictures, and were all neatly consolidated into one stressful month.
Maybe once the kids are out of college October will be the fun-loving month I remember. Only 15 more years, if all goes as planned. Which we all know it will.