Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Paper Pushin' Mama

It took a while, but I finally realized one more thing that nobody tells you about before you become a mom - paperwork.

Those of us who used to work in offices figured that our days of pushing paper were behind us when we left our cubicle behind. Au contraire, mon ami. A mother's year is marked by seasons and prior to each season, there is a tidal wave of paperwork to sort through, fill-out, organize and mail. You do it before school starts, prior to each season and well in advance of summer so that little Suzie or Johnny will not be sent home because - gasp! - paperwork is missing.

The first thing you have to face is who you want the school/team/scout leader to call if Suzy breaks her arm and your feet are in stirrups in the OB/GYN office with your cell phone off. If, like me, you don't have family in town, then you have to call in favors from your friends so that you can put them down as emergency contacts. This consists of deciding which friend would hate you the least if they were called in the middle of a day.

Next is the medical form-o-rama - a marathon event that consists of you digging through every nook and cranny in your house to determine when Suzy or Johnny had the chicken pox and the dates of their MMR vaccines. (Let me pause for a moment to say that yes, I realize that some of you are chronically organized and have this information readily available. To you, I say, go ahead and gloat. I want to say "get a life," but actually I'm jealous.) If you're really lucky, you get to take this form to your physician and find an easy and fast way to get it signed...there isn't one. Just bring a book along and deal with it.

Then there's the prepayments and registrations. This is where you write your address and sign your name so often you start to get it wrong. Every registration requires a check, which, according to Murphy's Law you will run out of before you're finished.

Once you've finished with the seasonal paperwork, you get to look forward to the smattering of permission slips. This is where the world of law and the world of education intersect. This is also where someone has created a form that will be used for no less than ten years (because why change something?), upon which you have to write your entire life history in the space of two square inches. This is also when you make the life and death decision of whether or not to chaperone. Warning! Proceed carefully! I use a complicated formula that takes the number of the kids in the class, multiplies it by the number of future juvenile delinquents and divides it by the number of times I have declined the chaperone duty in the past.

I'm an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of gal, so my dining room table is Command Central when it's paperwork season. There's a stack for every activity and/or every school. One of the most difficult things about doing paperwork is when it's finished and you can't mail it just have to wait. And, of course, when the day comes when you can actually get rid of it, someone will have either spilled something on it or accidentally moved it out of sight causing panic, mayhem and general mom madness.

If you've made it this far and haven't gotten carpal tunnel or a headache. Congratulations! You get to do it all over again in just a few short months or maybe even weeks. Once your kids hit their teens, you are certified paperwork pro. You can do this in your sleep. In fact, you're probably now qualified for a big, fat government job.


At 8:49 AM , Blogger Busy Mom said...

And then there's the flurry of money envelopes that goes with said forms. This is the time of year that I get "five-dollared to death". I swear, I would gladly pay $200 at the beginning of the year and let the school debit from it for field trips, dues, misc. supplies, teacher gifts, etc.


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