One mom's honest attempt at a "first day of school" sign is disrupting that "perfect parent" stereotype.
"Mom's first day of school," reads a handmade sign by Jeni Bukolt of Waxhaw, North Carolina. "I am 42 years tired," the sign states. "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."
Bukolt, who owns the communications and marketing company Haven Creative Agency, posted an Instagram photo of herself holding the sign with the caption:
"Happy ‘Back to School’ season to all the parents. May we not forget a 'theme' day or accidentally send our kids to the bus stop on the teacher work days, or forget to pick them up on the randomly scheduled half days. May we have patience and give each other grace for doing our best!"
On Monday, Bukolt posed for the image as she bid farewell to her sons, ages 8 and 12, on their first day of school.
"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 Parents.
Like so many busy mothers, Bukolt has overlooked a fair share of school events or school holidays.
"My kids will come home and say, 'It was Dr. Seuss Day' and that sinking feeling hits," she said. "Or, I've accidentally sent my kid to the bus stop on a teacher (training) day."
Bukolt hopes that her sign gives parents a mental break and builds what she calls an "empathy bridge."
"Parents put so much pressure on themselves to live up to a certain standard on social media," she said. "No one has a perfect life and we don't have to judge each other."
According to Bukolt, moms who saw her sign said, "That lit up my day" and "I was stressed out but that made me laugh."
"We're all feeling that way," she said. "So why not lighten the mood a bit?"
Ironically, Bukolt already messed up on the first day of school.
"My youngest son's back-to-school sign had a section called 'When I grow up, I want to be a ...' and he told me 'FBI agent,'" she said. "Then he decided to be a YouTube influencer and I wouldn't fix it.
"He's mad at me for not changing it," she joked.