Bay Reflections
Vol. 9, No. 35
August 30 - September 5, 2001
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Mothers Know the Meaning of Labor Day
by Debbie Farmer

Labor Day is really a holiday in disguise. For example, some people (usually politicians and academic types) know it is a day to recognize and honor the American Labor Movement, while other people think of it as an extra day off work with pay. Still others (and you know who you are) have absolutely no idea what they are supposed to be celebrating, but they think it might have something to do with a groundhog coming out of a hole to look for its shadow.

But, let’s face it, to mothers of school aged children, Labor Day means only one thing: the end of summer vacation.

By the beginning of September, I’m tired of spending my days with a group of people who drip blue slushy on the good sofa and argue over who is breathing more air.

Labor Day is my cue to drain the wading pool and rescue my good lipstick from the bottom of the sandbox for the very last time. It serves as a wake-up call to get the children back on a regular schedule and off to bed at a decent hour in this time zone.

Another thing about Labor Day is that, unlike any other time of the year, I’m at the peak of my game. My children haven’t been late for school yet or missed any homework assignments. And I’m still considered a reliable member of the carpool.

Plus, I no longer have to care about what I look like in a bathing suit. I can go back to my old pre-summer ways of wearing long pants with elastic waistbands over my pasty white legs. The world will no longer see that my stomach is pale and flabby and that the backs of my thighs have the same texture as Play Doh that’s been run over by a waffle iron.

Let me tell you, Labor Day isn’t just a holiday, it’s a declaration of freedom.

If you don’t believe me just ask my friend Julie, a loving, doting mother who celebrates Labor Day by singing “Hallelujah!” and shoving her three children into the backseat of the car and speeding off to the nearest store for school supplies.

And it’s not just Julie. My friend Linda catapults out of bed on Labor Day morning and immediately begins sifting her children’s sandbox for all of her good silverware.

Of course people without children can’t really understand this. They don’t see how we can celebrate the end of long, lazy days of nice weather, swimming and trips to the beach.

But I have a feeling it’s because they didn’t spend the last three months playing cruise director for a group of energetic tourists with the attention span of, say, four seconds.

However, on top of marking the end of summer vacation, Labor Day also causes me to slow down and savor the summer days that are left. There is something about it that adds a certain joie de vivre to barbecues and swim meets that just wasn’t there mid-June.

I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s human nature to want things you can’t have. Or perhaps the end of summer makes people more introspective. Or maybe it’s because I know relief is in sight.

No matter what the reason, there will always be some people who treat Labor Day as an opportunity to honor the American Labor Movement and others who consider it just another excuse to stay home from work.

But, between you and me, if you ever want to know the true meaning of the holiday, just ask a mother of a school-aged child.

Debbie Farmer’s Family Daze is a nationally syndicated family humor column

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly