Salisbury Press

Friday, July 10, 2020


Thursday, September 5, 2019 by The Press in Opinion

Back-to-school season often signals new norm

Have you seen the “Good Morning America” segment featuring the mom who stages a photo shoot to celebrate her children going back to school? What started as a way to ease the tension of a normally busy, stressful time of year got such an overwhelming response on social media that she continues to create a new scene each year.

“And every year the pictures get more elaborate, from Mom enjoying a deep-tissue massage to lounging in the pool with her coffee and book in hand — all while the kids look on with envious, and hilarious, expressions,” according to GMA.

You can find the story and photos at It’s worth a look. The photos are priceless, from the setup of a party about to happen the minute the kids board the bus to the faces of the children, who are stifling a giggle through their purposeful pouts.

I never really felt that back-to-school relief like this mom. Summers were always celebrations. My husband is a teacher, so he and our daughters had months of playtime in store. We didn’t feel the stress many parents do of finding baby sitters and camps and activities to keep our children occupied and safe while we continued a daily grind at the office.

It’s interesting how a cycle of perceived “normal” alters and sometimes goes unnoticed until big life moments bring it to the forefront — again and again.

In a flash, our daughters grew up.

They got summer jobs, which kept them busy during their high school years.

Then they started driving, and a parent was no longer required to get them to the place of employment or to a friend’s house.

Then one went off to college, and a family of four downsized to just three. The quiet that comes with a heavy moment like that is deafening. But as people told me, the sadness subsides. It becomes a new normal. And they were right.

Three years later, the other headed to college as well. (Cue the crickets.) I remember wondering what I would do with my nights and weekends. We visited them often, taking them to dinner and watching them compete in their respective sports.

Mostly, I filled the time as a new empty nester looking forward to summer, when they’d come home again. And that first year just flew by, as did this summer.

By now, most students — high school or college — have returned to the classroom. This year, our younger daughter returned to campus. Move-in day was as difficult as it’s always been, but it’s made easier when you witness the joy in your kids’ faces when they reunite with friends and feel comfortable in their temporary home away from home.

Our household number now stands at three. Our older daughter graduated in May. She has a job she loves and is living at home to make a dent in her student loans and pad her savings a bit.

The end of summer signals a change in many households, and ours has never been an exception. This year, my daughter and I follow a similar morning routine — yoga, coffee, more coffee, workday. We leave the house, tote bags and packed lunches in hand, at the same time. She is officially a working adult.

A new normal has descended upon our home — at least, I suppose, until next summer.

Kelly Lutterschmidt


Whitehall-Coplay Press

Northampton Press

Catasauqua Press