Martorella: Mayday

It is reported that the term “Mayday” as a distress call was developed in the 1920’s from the French phrase “m’aider” which means “help me”.
Now that my children reached school age, I suspect that “Mayday” may have a different origin. As harbingers of the end of the school year, May days often elicit a sense of panic, fear, and overwhelm. Everything is scheduled in May. End of year recitals, concerts, field days, class shares & parties, science fairs, presentations, sports banquets, proms, award ceremonies, graduations, and so on. I recently learned about a Connecticut school district (thankfully not ours) that celebrates the last 26 days of elementary school with a different theme day from A to Z. I can’t imagine I’d make it much past D before throwing in the towel (thereby proceeding directly to T).
It is also prime time for scheduling summer camps as waitlists begin and deadlines abound (Last week for early bird pricing!) Let’s be honest, it’s more like prime time for panicking about summer camps, as many start filling up in the early winter months.
Additionally, May taunts us with a taste of summer, featuring the first holiday weekend of the season. So you may also be tasked with vacation plans or more likely around here, Memorial Day parade preparations. More costumes, colors, accessories, tickets, and seating to procure. (Do go to the parade and the Post 53 Food Fair this weekend if you are in town!)
Funny thing is that in April, when I foresee activities ending, I am usually worrying about the void in the after school schedules, wondering what are we going to do with all that free time? Every year, I forget that it will be filled up with rehearsals and last-minute tasks of all kinds. Those dates are not yet in the calendar, reminders constantly popping up on my phone to direct me to my next my next location. And I am still running on selective memory--you know, that adaptive parenting mechanism that causes us to forget all the parenting trauma from one year (the pain of childbirth, the hassle of potty training, the sleepless nights, the weeks of rehearsals), so that we will continue to do it the next year.
We are all going through it, those who are clearly screeching in to pick-ups with their purses spilling over with disorganization as well as those who know how to hide their chaos behind a quick yet polished appearance. I usually fit the first description, but not always. This week, I dropped off one child without realizing I had no idea when pick up was, and just lucked into returning just before she was the last child standing. Nobody knew but me.
Parents should be able to yell “Mayday!!!” in a crowded auditorium to signal to other parents that we need our “village” of parents to come help. “MAYDAY - I’m having a May day!” should get you instant offerings of carpools, portable treats, class party craft ideas, healthy snack recipes, or even suggestions for game apps or audiobooks to play while waiting in pickup lines, on sports fields, or in performance halls. There should be signup sheets to swap shopping runs for field day colors or end of year gifts (“I’ll hit Party City if you go to Target”) or arrange for joint babysitting. Venmo, Vango, and Mom Facebook pages are on the right track.
I know in our area, year-end activities continue well into June, but for much of the country, school ends in May so that makes “Mayday” an even more universal call. This topic was recently addressed by the much-loved creators of parenting parodies, The Holderness Family. In their latest parody, “May-cember”, they liken the craziness of the end of the school year to the holidays, rewriting classic Christmas carols with more relevant May lyrics. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out on YouTube for a relatable laugh.
By the time you read this, you will likely be well entrenched in your own personal Mayathon (see what I did there?). Hang in there. Importantly, don’t be afraid to let something go if you need a breather. After all, what is the payoff if you are so busy preparing/recording/saving that you miss the moment? And above all, use your Mayday signal. Someone is listening.
Rebecca Martorella, LMFT welcomes ideas and comments and can be reached at