She was done before the first day even started.
It’s back-to-school time and that means new school supplies, a trip to Target for clothes and social media channels flooded with photos of kids holding chalkboards. Over the past decade, back-to-school photos with kids standing on their doorsteps with signs with their name, grade, year and teacher have been ubiquitous on social media.
There’s nothing wrong with the photos, they’re a cute way for parents and kids to mark the passage of time. For most parents, it’s a way to remember that it all goes by way too fast.
However, for the “perfect” parents out there who like to flaunt their Instagrammable lifestyle, they’re another way to show off their “flawless” first days on social media.
In an attempt to show parents they don't have to fall for the myth of perfection on social media, Jeni Bukolt—a mother of two boys age 8 and 12 from Waxhaw, North Carolina—posted a first-day photo of herself looking burnt out and wearing sunglasses. School hadn’t even begun yet.
"Mom's first day of school,” the handmade sign read. "I am 42 years tired. I'll probably miss a school 'theme' day. I really like sleep. Please don't ask me to volunteer. But I will buy you supplies."
"I make signs for my kids each year but lately I've thought about how I always feel behind, as though I'm failing (in some way)," Bukolt told Today. Clearly, other parents feel the same because it was a hit with a lot of them on Instagram.
A lot of comments were from parents who thought the photo was a breath of fresh air during a stressful time of year. "Brilliant, you speak for millions!" cathycole wrote. "May we all survive the drop off/pick up lane," merakifitnessandpole added.
"I thought maybe if I can create a lighthearted moment, some other moms will laugh and understand we're all in this kind of struggle together. Like, let's have empathy for each other," Bukolt told Good Morning America.
Bukolt hopes her post builds an “empathy bridge” between parents. She’d also like to shine a little reality on the parents who feel judged on social media.
"I also feel like when you look at social media, there's all these, [picture perfect] worlds,” she added. “It's not the true story. And some people think like, 'Oh, they have it better or they're perfect,' and this is an opportunity to say no, we're all real human beings ... we're all in the struggle together."
But of course, there were some humorless parents who thought her post wasn’t supportive of teachers or her two sons. So Bukolt made a follow-up where she explained that she was just having fun.
“For the keyboard warriors… yes I do have a job, yes I love my kids and no, I don’t hate teachers. Back to work. Have a great day!” she wrote.
Parenting is hard and we all fall short of glory at times. Kudos to Bukolt for making us feel a little less alone and letting us know that some folks have already accepted their imperfections on the first day.
"If other moms can get a good laugh about it, then that makes my heart happy," she said.