I never knew what busy was until I started school full time.
I thought taking care of the kids was a full time job. And it is…when they are actually home full time. After they’ve all started school and are gone most of the day, five days a week? I’m going to go out on a limb here and risk alienating my stay-at-home mommy friends by saying no. No, it’s no longer a full-time job. If you are not working and your kids are gone from 8:30 until 3:00 every day? You have time to get stuff done. Lots of stuff. I mean no disrespect; I was one of those moms. I had long stretches of time – years – when my children were gone all day at least a few days a week and I stayed home. There’s no shame in it and my purpose is not to invalidate. I’m merely pointing out, for contrast, that there is a huge difference between being on your own schedule and having entire days free to do what you want or what you need to do, and being at the mercy of a school (or work) schedule and having a narrow window of time in which to accomplish tasks.
Being in school and taking care of the kids would be a lot in a normal situation, but, as you know, I only have a husband/second pair of hands two days a week (occasionally three). This means I’m not only trying to do all these things, I’m handling them alone. I’m not trying to do everything because I’m a control freak or because I feel invaluable if I don’t. I simply have no choice. Not only that, but my going back to school seems to have coincided with the kids starting to do more in the way of activities…or, rather, staring to do more involved activities. We’ve tried to keep it simple. One activity per kid. That’s not too much, right? We have no interest in overscheduled children. However, when I’m doing all the drop-offs and pickups myself, and Madalyn has track practice ending when Eliza’s dance class begins, I have to be in class right after that and I’m trying to figure out how to feed us all in the one free 30-minute window I have — it’s a lot. Forget the kids. They aren’t overscheduled. Mom is overscheduled.
Anyway, my point is I never understood people who, for example, used to be online a lot and then disappeared for a while, claiming they were so busy they couldn’t even pop in for ten minutes to say hi. I didn’t get how someone could not have five minutes to return a phone call, or why they couldn’t manage to drop by a post office to mail something they said they were sending me. I didn’t understand…until now. I don’t call people. Of course, I didn’t before, but that’s because I didn’t want to. Now it’s because that takes time and attention I don’t have. Non-essential errands are way down on the priority list. And sometimes I don’t get online for the first time until the kids have gone to bed. I, who used to be online every couple of hours, all day long! Half the time I truly don’t have the time to do it. The other half of the time I could snatch 20 minutes here and there…but there’s a list as long as my leg of other stuff that also needs to be done, and I have to prioritize. Sometimes I have no choice but to go the responsible route because I know that, if I don’t, I’ll regret it later. If it’s not going to cause me a problem later, well, then, heck yes, I’ll let it slide and check in with my friends. But it’s basically a triage situation, here. Whatever is most urgent goes to the head of the list and the other stuff falls in line behind.
Now, let me clarify: I don’t mean this to complain. This is not a self-pitying post. I feel I must specify this because there is a faction of people online who, apparently, persist in believing I am miserably unhappy with my life. (I’m still trying to figure out what gives them that idea. Yes, I have my mood swings and the tone of my posts in various forums can be affected by that. But I’m pretty sure for every mad/sad/crappy thing I post, I post an equal or greater number of funny or silly or even-tempered things. So, WTF?) To be clear: not whining. I’m stating fact. This is my reality. I chose it, and I’m happy I did. I like school. I like my family.
I like people who mind their own damned business. Er, thank you for your concern.
That said, I would like, for no other reason than my own amusement, to type out my schedule for the next three days. It is rather making my head spin…or would be, if I’d let myself think about it as a whole. I’m not, though. The way I deal with it is this: head down, full speed ahead, one task at a time. Tunnel vision. It helps, really. A year ago, if I’d had three days in a row like this, I’d likely have had a nervous breakdown.
Tuesday – Eliza’s Birthday
7:00 – Wake up, get Mad in the shower, fix breakfast, pack lunches. Mad out of shower, I go in. Let Eliza open one birthday present to take to school as show and tell. Take some pictures. Try not to feel badly about not making a bigger deal out of the day for her.
7:55 – Take Madalyn to school
8:15 – Take Johnny and Eliza to school
8:35 – Back home. Fix hair, get dressed.
9:30 – First class
11:00 – Second class
11:15-11:20 (we hope) – Second class wraps up early. Drive across town to pick up cupcakes. Drive back across town to preschool, deliver cupcakes, take some pictures, and beat it back to university
12:30-1:45 – Third class
1:45-2:50 – Free time. Enjoy it. Will be the last for the rest of the day. Intend to take a power nap or get online, but will probably actually end up doing laundry or something I feel I “should” be doing.
2:50-3:00 – Pick up Eliza + leftover cupcakes. Go straight to Johnny’s school to wait in line because thirty minutes isn’t enough time to bother going home.
3:30 – Get Johnny. Drive home. Spend next hour supervising homework, shooing Eliza away from her birthday presents, and nagging people to pick stuff up.
4:30 – Pick Madalyn up early from track practice so we can go to Eliza’s birthday dinner.
5:30-5:45 (hopefully) – Return from birthday dinner. Eliza opens presents. Pictures! More nagging people to clean up things.
6:30 – Back to school, 4th class
7:45 – Return home just in time to shuttle the younger kids off to bed. If they are on top of things they will have showered while I was gone. Otherwise, spend several minutes shrieking at them to “hurry up and get in there.”
8:00(ish) – Younger kids to bed
8:30 – Madalyn to bed. Maybe I can sit down here.
Wednesday – Alleged “day off”
Wednesday is parent-teacher conference day in our district. Thus, my public school kids have the day off. Preschool child does not. I was looking forward to this, as I thought Mad, Johnny and I could hang out, maybe watch a movie, etc. However. I have a dermatologist’s appointment at 10:30. Also, Johnny’s teacher has scheduled me for a conference at 10:15, which I will have to move (can’t really move the derm., as it takes a month or more to get in there). So at some point I will go to Johnny’s school for his conference. After that I will go to Madalyn’s school for her conferences. It is “first come, first served” for her grade, so I could, potentially, have a bit of a wait if there are people ahead of me. Additionally, she has a different teacher for every hour so I have a lot of people to see. Then I will pick up Eliza at 3:00, come home and likely immediately start on dinner, which takes most of the evening. Day off? Not so much.
Thursday – Is it Friday yet?
7:00 – Wake up. All the same bullshit as Tuesday at 7:00, except for the part about presents. Thank God.
Take kids to school.
9:30-10:45 – First class.
11:00-11:20 or so – Second class (God bless indolent professors).
11:20-12:30 – Ding ding ding! Free time! Go take a nap, dummy!
12:30-1:45 – Third class.
1:50-2:50 – Meet my friend to work out.
2:50-3:30 – Picking up younger kids. Go home, immediately begin preparing to leave again.
4:50 – Drop Johnny off at guitar.
5:00 – Drop Eliza off at dance. Madalyn also gets out of track practice right now. May have to send her uncle to pick her up.
5:30 – Pick Johnny up from guitar.
5:45 – Pick Eliza up from dance.
5:50 – Home, and I guess this is when everyone finally gets to eat, but I’m sure as hell not cooking, because…
6:30-7:45 – Fourth class.
7:50 – Return home, and thank my lucky stars that it’s now my weekend.
Right now the only thing I have scheduled for Friday is taking Eliza out somewhere to spend her birthday money. I’m sure she will wheedle lunch out of me, too. That’s the kind of activity level I can handle.
If nothing else, all this will make me truly and deeply appreciate summer break!