Editor's Note (Aug. 2011)

Call Me Sherpa Mom

Several years ago my daughter and I took a vacation with other members of our immediate family. At the time, she was deep in the tween phase where purses were both a necessary appendage and a burden. Every day she’d start off independently toting her sacred symbol of young womanhood. Of course in just an hour or two she’d tire of this imaginary game and relegate its care to me – Sherpa mom, forever leading the way and lugging the stuff. I have the photos to prove it.

It’s occurred to me that Sherpa mom is a role I assumed as soon as my daughter was born. Yes, they do make diaper bags that dads can carry, but my husband wasn’t open to the daddy diaper bag concept. I was the sole porter of all things necessary for baby. I became renowned for my skill in handling a flailing infant, an umbrella stroller and a diaper bag packed for every possible contingency.

This of course was just training for her toddlerhood. Since I was no longer nursing at that point, I had to make sure other nutrition was available at all times. And once potty training started I had to schlep around a full set of extra clothes – just in case. By the time she entered school I had perfected the mommy-porter role. Invariably, book bags would become way too heavy for her to carry home from the bus stop. And of course school projects would become too cumbersome for an elementary school child to handle alone.

Once the after-school activities started I hit the zenith of my Sherpa age. Forget scaling Mt. Everest. I had the task of being prepared for a different after school procedure nearly every day. The trick was getting the activity, outfit and snack in sync. Monday, ballet: meet at school to change into leotard, tights, ballet slippers and allow time for a light snack. Wednesday, art class: smock, elastic hair tie if she didn’t wear one to school, or another in case that one was misplaced, and a hearty snack. Every other Thursday, scouting: arrive with uniform, project and a full battery of snacks for a team of excited girls. Fridays in winter meant ice skating. This required some real serious lugging. Change of clothes, skates, skate socks, kneepads, lighter coat or vest appropriate for the arena and a warm snack to fuel the budding athlete.

Habits are hard to break. To this day you’ll find antibiotic ointment, Band-Aids, tissues and a snack pack of dry cereal or nuts and raisins in my bag. I know it is only August but soon you too will be finagling the after-school activity scene. Read our feature story, “Choosing After-School Activities,” and find out how to select an after school schedule that meets your family’s needs. And be sure to read the tips for juggling all the madness. There are specific tools you can use to help you minimize the angst. Isn’t that good news?

Sherpas are known for their hardiness, expertise and experience at high altitudes. They are also known for their humor, spirit and courage. Sounds like a mom to me.

Have Fun,Jean Sheff Editor