Three decades of lunch boxes, field trips and hair bows

August 16, 2021
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By Delilah McMasters

Mansfield Record

It’s been 30 years since I’ve had only one child in school! Thirty years ago I was excited as my 5-year-old about the whole thing. All the little school supplies, the new lunch box, the clothes and matching bows.

My first love didn’t even notice when I left the building, she was happy to be around the other kids and excited about all the school supplies I had so lovingly picked out. I signed up to be a room mom, chaperon, lunch monitor. For the next five years I knew every teacher’s name, her best friend of the week and their moms.

Seven years later I had three in school and I’m hanging on to the dream. School supplies for 6th, 1st and kinder, lunch boxes and backpacks for everyone! Clothes and shoes and, yes, bows! Room mom, chaperon, party coordinator, play dates and moms groups. Dance, tennis, throw in some taekwondo, and we were making life happen. We were on the birthday party circuit, doing the zoo with the moms, hanging out at the park and Chick-fil-A.

Another six years down the road and I had four in school, plus one on my hip. I can’t tell you what grades all four of them were in, or what we bought or who their teachers were. It’s a blur. It took a small fortune and a U-haul for all the school supplies and clothes. Between school and extracurricular activities, we lived in the car in the afternoon and it seemed like I was always running late.

By the time the last one started kindergarten, I was the old mom in the back of the room who had checked out and was letting the young moms get excited about fundraisers and peanut allergies. The last baby never got the experience the other five got. Why do I need to keep buying all of these backpacks and lunchboxes? We have a closet full, spray them with the pressure washer and throw last year’s leftover supplies in them. Good gosh, I don’t care if it’s tax-free weekend, just throw on your summer clothes, we can watch the weather and buy some jeans at the first cold front.

But now the baby is getting her chance. For the first time in 30 years, she’s the only one in school.

We are doing a happy dance! We are buying cute school supplies, getting that physical for tennis, filled out the online forms, I’m going to be there for her, know all those teachers’ names, maybe some of the moms’ names too. It is going to be a breeze! The kids’ dad’s wife even took Izzy shopping while I was at work and got a fair amount of the clothes shopping done. Who needs matching bows? She got iridescent skates to match her backpack.

I was congratulating myself on making it through 30 years of the public school system, thinking about how I only have FIVE MORE YEARS. Five years and only one child in school. One set of teachers each year to remember. Only one, ONE CHILD to remember to get to and from school. One child means my  calendar is focused on getting places on time, instead of coming in hot and watching a kid tuck and roll, then sprint! Yes, siree, I’m about to redeem myself, about to have my baby shouting my praises to the rest of them kids!


“Mom, how much did Dad and Brenda spend on Izzy’s school clothes?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“Because it’s not fair Izzy gets school clothes and I don’t. I’m in college, that’s school.”

“You have a job. We talked about this: half of your check goes in savings, the other half goes toward fun and your clothes. It’s to help you learn how to keep a budget while still living at home. From here forward clothes bought by me shouldn’t be taken for granted. Oh, and did you finish registering?”

“But I only have $500 and if I spend it on a new wardrobe, then I won’t have money to do stuff when my friends call me. Sighhhh, I’m trying to finish my schedule. I need school supplies, are you paying for my books? Can I go with you and Izzy to get my supplies, too? There are these cute folders I want at Staples!”

“Lila, once again, budget your money. There will be times you have to say no or wait until you get paid. Do you have a supply list?”

“No, but I don’t know how to do that.”

“I’ve already explained this.”


“Can I call Dad?”

And just like that I’m reminded I still have two kids in school and there is a reason I call them my Drama Squad.

Lord, just get me through the next five years and I promise, I’ll be the best college… Awww, forget it, just grab a backpack out of the hall closet!

Delilah McMasters is a local resident and the mother of six. Reach her at

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