One mother’s genuine attempt at a “first day of school” sign is upending the notion of the “perfect parent.”
“Mom’s first day of school,” says Jeni Bukolt of Waxhaw, North Carolina, on a handcrafted sign. The sign reads, “I am 42 years exhausted.”
“I’ll most likely miss a ‘theme’ day at school.” I enjoy sleeping a lot. Please do not request that I volunteer. But I’ll purchase you some materials.”
Bukolt, the owner of the communications and marketing firm Haven Creative Agency, captioned an Instagram shot of herself carrying the sign:
“Wishing all parents a happy ‘Back to School’ season. May we not forget a “theme” day, or take our children to the bus stop on teacher work days, or fail to pick them up on arbitrarily scheduled half days.
May we be patient and gracious to one another for doing our best!”
Bukolt posed for the photo on the first day of school for her sons, ages 8 and 12, on Monday.
“Every year, I make signs for my kids, but lately I’ve been thinking about how I always feel behind, as if I’m failing (in some way),” Bukolt told TODAY Parents.
Bukolt, like many other busy mothers, has missed a few school activities or holidays.
“When my kids remark, ‘It was Dr. Seuss Day,’ that sinking feeling strikes,” she says. “Or I sent my child to the bus stop on a teacher (training) day.”
Bukolt hopes that her sign provides a mental respite for parents and creates a “empathy bridge.”
“Parents put so much pressure on themselves on social media to live up to a specific standard,” she said. “No one has a flawless life, and we don’t have to pass judgment on one another.”
Moms who noticed her sign commented, “That lightened up my day” and “I was stressed out but that made me chuckle,” according to Bukolt.
“We’re all experiencing it,” she admitted. “So why not lighten up a little?”
Bukolt, ironically, made a mistake on the first day of school.
“When I asked my youngest son what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded ‘FBI agent,'” she said. “He then wanted to become a YouTube influencer, and I refused to rectify it.”
“He’s upset with me because I didn’t change it,” she laughed.