Alabama Mom's Hilarious Back-to-School Photo Is a Gift to Parents Everywhere: 'I Deserve a Break!'
Jena Willingham had planned for weeks how she would celebrate her newfound free time
When an Alabama mother’s three children went back to school on August 7, she knew just how to celebrate the occasion.
Jena Willingham, of Beulah, Alabama, posted a now-viral picture to Facebook showing her children enviously looking on as she relaxes in a pool with a cool drink in hand—and the day couldn’t have come soon enough for Willingham.
“My kids have been driving me crazy with their fighting over chargers and iPads all summer,” Willingham, 31, tells PEOPLE. “I kept telling them I was going to have a pool day all by myself when they went to school because it’s the first time in 11 years I won’t have a kid home. I was counting down to school, I deserve a break!”
The picture of Wrangler, 11, Emmy, 7, Sykes, 4, has since been shared more than 12,000 times, and people have found it hilarious.
“Too funny! I love that you can joke about it and give us all a good laugh!” Wendy Brandon commented. Another Facebook user, Denise Hadaway, commented that it was the best back-to-school picture she had ever seen, a sentiment echoed by many other users.
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The picture was snapped next door at a relative’s house the day before school started, since it would have been chaotic trying to take the picture while getting the kids dressed and fed, Willingham says. And the drink in her hand is actually orange juice, and not a mimosa, as some Facebook commenters have said.
Willingham is a mail carrier who works most weekends but gets a few days off during the week. So, what will she do with her newfound free time? Other than watching some much-needed Netflix and enjoying showers without her kids trying to interrupt her, she’s going to do much of the same things she did before, just minus a few distractions.
“I’m probably going to try to get stuff done, I hate grocery shopping with all the kids,” she says, laughing. “They always want to buy everything they don’t need, so I’ll probably get stuff like that done while they’re at school so it’s not so hectic for me.”
But amidst all of the laughs, Willingham admits that when it came time to take the kids to school Monday morning, she felt nostalgic seeing how much her children have grown.
“It was pretty sad, my little boy was asking me to leave, and my little girl didn’t want me to write a lunch box note for her, and my oldest son wouldn’t even let me down the sixth-grade hallway to take a picture,” she says. “But by the time I got home, I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m going to be able to handle this just fine.’ “