When Bridgett Brown, Shawna Genua, Jennifer Patterson and Robin Kelly realized that their children — 18 among them — were finally going back to school they felt both excited and relieved.
To show off their glee, the moms, who became close friends when they all moved into the same neighborhood in Central Florida six months ago, staged a series of photos that have gone viral on Facebook.
“First day of school,” Genue, owner of Wee Winks Photography, wrote in the post. “Some of you are sad. This is me and my girls. We will be juuuuuust fine.”
The picture shows the women holding wine glasses with a sign that says: “First Day of School 2019 #byeFelicia.”
For these moms, summer won't be missed.
“It was very chaotic. Lots of ‘Mom, I’m bored.’ ‘Mom, let’s do something,'” Genua, 38, told TODAY Parents. “We have been in our homes for six months. We’re juggling unpacking, decorating and activities with kids. We are very happy to have our time back.”
The moms had seen similar photos and felt inspired to create their own.
“It was pretty spontaneous,” said Genua, who has three children. “We were trying to think of something fun.”
They grabbed chairs, glasses and a two-liter bottle of sparkling fruit punch. And since they took the photo before the first day of school, their kids watched them.
“People thought we were drinking. But we only do that when the kids are at school,” Kelly, 49, a mom to one child, told TODAY Parents.
Since the photos have gotten so much notice, the moms are getting praise from unlikely people: their kids.
“It went viral, I was shocked,” Emma, 14, Patterson’s daughter, told TODAY Parents.
Savannah, 17, who is Genua’s daughter, was surprised her mom's corny idea caused so many people to laugh.
“At first I thought it was really lame,” she told TODAY Parents. “It was really cool,” Savannah said. “But, I still make fun of her daily.”
The moms just hope that their fun back-to-school pictures show that you can love your children, but also love your time alone.
“We love our kids to death. But if you don’t take a break for yourself you are not going to be good parents,” Kelly said.
Many people who responded to the pictures echoed these sentiments.
“So many people have been telling us they need a break,” Kelly said. “It really has been an amazing, supportive awesome experience.”
The quartet were not the only moms in Florida who ushered in the new school year with some memorable photos. Lisa DiNoto writes the Disney blog the Castle Run. For the first day of school, the Windermere, Florida, mom visited the Magic Kingdom for a walk and grabbed a celebration button from the park.
That's when inspiration struck: She decided to ask the characters of Main Street, other Disney characters and employees to pose with the button.
“They were so amused,” the 41-year-old mom of two boys told TODAY Parents. “The woman who embodies the Fairy Godmother is a very special cast member. She saw the pin and we were laughing and crying and hugging. She gave me a bag of pixie dust and said, ‘It is just for you.’”
DiNoto loved just leisurely strolling through the park — without rushing to grab a snack or taking someone to the bathroom. While most of the response to DiNoto’s blog has been positive there are a few people who criticized her for going to Disney without her kids. (She assured us that living 10 minutes from the park means her kids get tons of Disney time.) But she agrees that having moments to yourself are important for parents.
“It doesn’t mean that you love your kids any less if you take time for yourself,” she explained. “I am not selfish for taking a moment for myself when I know my kids are somewhere safe and happy. The fact that I am not home crying when I am not with them doesn’t make me a worse mom.”