Is it summer vacation yet?

I can’t honestly tell you that I’m ready for summer.

That would imply that I have given our summer sitter a list of dates we need her, when in fact we just have a basic—and amazing—agreement that she or one of her sisters will sit for us for the whole break.

Saying that I’m ready for summer would also suggest that I have identified all the days I intend to take off from my job to spend with our sons. Again, no. I haven’t figured that out.

You might even imagine that I know when the kids will be starting back to school in the fall. But let’s not get carried away. That will apparently be the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place.

No, it’s not that I’m ready for summer. It’s just that I need the school year to end.

Packing school lunches has become an onerous chore. On a crisp October morning, I can make coffee, cook a warm breakfast, fill water bottles, prepare snacks, and pack lunches, while also signing field trip forms, checking writing assignments, and running through spelling words.

By now I am lucky if I can find both water bottles in the morning and get children to tell me what they want to eat for breakfast. I keep asking our boys why they still have homework.

We are done. Yet the school year just keeps coming.

The children have what I know will be a fantastic version of field day this week, and they were each assigned a different colored shirt to wear and a country. It is such a fun idea, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the teachers who continue to bring energy and creativity to a school year that didn’t even include a spring break.

One of our sons—I mean, I hope just one—needed to bring in some representation of his country, which is Norway.

That assignment came through a while ago, but naturally it was the night before the assignment was due that we started the conversation about what to do.

Norway. I mean, I’ve heard of it. I can spell it.

In October, I’m fairly sure I would have pulled out the N encyclopedia. We would have tried to think of people we know who have been to Norway—has anyone been to Norway? We would have buckled down as a family and embraced this opportunity.

Instead, I sighed and said, “I need to go to the store. Maybe I could just buy some food that’s associated with Norway.”

“Like what?” my husband said. “Fish?”

It sounded hopeless.

When I mentioned it to a friend, she sent me Jen Hatmaker’s blog, Worst End of School Year Mom Ever. I reread that every year, and every time I laugh and laugh.

Then, while I roamed the grocery store aisles, our third grader sat down and spent 45 minutes creating the Norway flag.

When I came home with a can of herring that was sadly produced in Canada, he grimaced and said, “Ew.” Then he showed me the flag he had made.

I’m proud of his flag, which would blow me away even if there weren’t a mere 13 days left to this school year.

Thirteen days. We are definitely going to make it.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll send herrings for lunch.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.