I keep watching Downton Abbey and thinking how nice it must be to sit in a window and read a book, or take a leisurely walk out in the field, or make time for tea with my family every day. But that’s not the world we live in.
Yesterday was one of those days when I felt like I didn’t stop moving all day. After I got all three kids out the door - which includes a bus pick-up, a middle school drop off, and a preschool drop off - I came home and had a couple hours to myself . . . during which I put laundry away, picked up the bedrooms, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, folded even more laundry, and ran a forgotten lunch box up to school.
I got a text from hubby mid-morning that said his meeting was pushed later in the day, so he wouldn’t be home until late.
This text was meant to convey the following: Babe, I’m sorry I can’t be home to help with homework/dinner/practice because I have an unexpected schedule change, but rest assured that I really want to be home with you helping to parent our children. You're doing a great job. I adore you.
What I internalized was: blah, blah, blah, you’re on your own again tonight. Sorry.
What I responded was: I just took a urine sample from the dog. You suck.
After picking up Small at preschool and dropping off said urine sample at the Vet, we came home for a healthy snack (pop tarts) until it was time to pick up Large at school for a doctor’s appointment. We were at the doctor’s office for an hour while Medium got off the bus and came home to an empty house for the first time. For the duration of that hour, half my mind was listening to the doctor, half of it was keeping Small off the dirty floor, half of it was helping Large with his math homework (hehehe . . . see what I did there with the all the halves?) and half of it was envisioning all the things that could be going wrong at home . . . fire, noise violations, raucous partying, floods of biblical proportion, etc.
Once we got home it was time for the daily Fight. The Fight proceeds as follows: I tell the boys in my sweet mommy voice that it is time to start homework. (Surprisingly enough, even though I left Medium a note with specific directions regarding how he should be spending his quiet hour alone, he did not begin his homework.) The boys chase each other around the kitchen table. I use my firm voice to tell them to quit horsing around and get going on the homework. They head for the pantry. They sit at the table and touch each other non-stop. I separate them into two rooms so that they can each “focus.” Focus is a buzzword during The Fight. Large asks me for help with math homework from Room A while Medium asks for my spelling advice from Room B. Small whines that I told him I would build a track for his cars from Room C. I help Large in Room A, Medium starts “Mom!Mommy!Mom!Mooooom!CanYouHelpMe?Moooom!” from Room B, and Small tugs on my shirt hem. I go into Room B to help Medium with spelling, and he asks me how many times the Braves have won the World Series or something equally as irrelevant.
I roll my eyes and begin preparing dinner, which tonight consists of jarred spaghetti sauce over some frozen meatballs and macaroni noodles because we need to be out of the house by 5:45 for basketball practice. And remember, we’re ALL going to practice because Daddy is stuck at the office. We continue The Fight, except now my sweet, rational Mommy voice has been replaced by something that sounds a lot more stabby.
We convene at one table for our “meal,” but the boys continue with the constant touching. Medium doesn’t eat at all because he can’t focus on his meal long enough to take a bite, and Large ignores the no-electronics-at-the-table rule, but I don’t notice because I’m trying to wrestle a stray meatball from the dog while scrubbing sauce out of the carpet in the dining room because Small chose to eat alone in there.
I guess we’re not having dinner.
Clearly the power has shifted. I beg them to PLEASE get shoes and socks on so we can be on time to practice, for once. Small runs to gather cars to bring with him while Medium saunters upstairs to find a particular jersey to wear even though there’s no chance in hell he’s gonna find it, and Large launches into a debate reminiscent of Nixon and Kennedy, detailing why he should be allowed to bring his phone everywhere, all the time.
I threaten to pull them out of all extra-curricular activities since no one else seems to care. (Cue baby violins.) I bust my ass every night of the week trying to get homework done, children fed and dressed appropriately for whichever activity they may be partaking of, and showered and in bed at a reasonable time. I’d much rather sit on my couch and watch crappy television than sit on an elementary school cafeteria floor while an underpaid staff person tells my kids not to run in the hallway.
|I must have this mug...|
When I was young, I was a girl scout and I participated in one other activity at a time. It is plausible that it only took one season for my mother to realize I was not meant to be a ballet dancer (because I was too clumsy,) a gymnast (because I can’t even walk in a straight line so how am I gonna balance on stuff,) or a soccer player (because I was easily distracted by pretty flowers and bumble bees.) OR it could be that she had the common sense not to over-schedule her children and then get mad when they couldn't manage their time. Either way, I’m doing something wrong because I’m way more wide-eyed and screechy than my mom ever was. My goal for 2015 is to live simply; I’ve got about 11 more months to figure it out.