Try to remember the joys of September
Even though autumn has always been my favorite season, for many years in our household September was the Month That Must Not Be Named.
You can imagine that being a blended family with five children spanning a sizeable age range, we were provided with a host of challenges to setting up a household.
But it was years before that time when the trouble began, when my doctor told me my third child was going to be born on the day of my second child's birthday – both in late September. Luckily for my sanity and sparing future sibling rivalries, my son came a few days earlier.
And in those earlier years having two children born in the same week was rather nice. We could hold combined birthday celebrations and get all the fuss out of the way in one rush of energy.
But when they both got to school age, it really hit the pocketbook. That was two batches of new schoolclothes, two barrels of new school supplies, two birthday parties and two birthday gifts all at once.
To say that time of year was stressful would be understating it to the enth degree.
Then came the cluster of delightful new people who would join my family, carrying with them one more child with a late September birthday. Yep, that made us a five-child family with three born in the same seven-day span of the nine month.
It felt like a wicked joke by The Fates.
It didn't help that by this time school budgets had dramatic shifts and parents were asked to bear a heavier burden of purchasing classroom supplies in September. Now we weren't just buying pencil boxes, crayons and glue but also Kleenex, copy paper and anti-bacterial wipes. I worried that soon we would be asked to supply mop heads and oil for the teacher's car.
Complicating this was the fact that we had one child in college and one entering grade school – and plenty in between. So while we had to worry about maintaining a working car for the eldest, we still had to rent a U-HAUL to get all the classroom supplies to the primary school.
I can't even hear the words "back to school clothes shopping" without breaking out in hives. Not only did the checks we had to write in those weeks leading up to September make me hyperventilate but taking two elementary-age kids, a middle-schooler and two teens to the mall was asking a lot of any mere mortal.
Which leads me to the actual birthday week. Not wanting our kids to have the same 'birthday-after-Christmas' lousy gift experience I got as a kid every year, we made sure our birthday gifts were on a par with their siblings not blessed with September birthdays.
So there's that price tag on the top of all the back-to-school falderal.
Then there were the birthdays themselves. If we were unlucky enough to have so many birthdays so close together, you'd think we'd catch a break by having them owned by the kids closer in age or the same sex/interests, right?
Birthday celebrations for each one had to be planned, financed and fit into the family schedule for every one of those offspring. It's a wonder we survived at all.
But in the end we lived to tell the tale and here we are on the other side, free to look at this time of year like any other normal human.
I'd forgotten what a lovely month September is, really.
Leslie Pugmire Hole is the editor of the Wilsonville Spokesman and West Linn Tidings.