Friday, September 14, 2007

School’s No Vacation for this Mom!

The last two nights were spent at open school nights: one for the middle school, and one for the elementary grades. Getting to these mandatory meetings is quite an ordeal for our family. The teachers still give out homework, which must be done earlier than usual; dinner finished and cleaned up; the children all set for bed. My self-employed husband must brave the “rush hour” to get home “early” at 7:00. I kiss the children goodbye and, as soon as his car pulls in the driveway, I am out the door.

The first night I was fifteen minutes late. The baby was fussing and giving me trouble about going to bed at 6:55. I finally had her asleep and was able to leave at 7:15. It takes a half hour to get to the school, park the car, and walk to the auditorium.

When I opened the door, it was clear I was the latest one, and they were in the middle of the opening prayer. Mortified, I closed the door behind me as quietly as I could. I imagined several people giving me dirty looks. (Imagined or not, given a choice between several hundred parents staring at me and leaving the house with the baby crying, I’ll choose the former every time.)

The second night I left just five minutes earlier, but the traffic lights worked with me and, if I had not gotten stuck waiting for a long train, I would have made it on time. Still, at 7:35, people had not yet sat themselves down, so I was okay. I made polite chit-cat with a school board member. “This must be like a vacation for you,” she commented, referring to my days with the kids in school.

“Believe it or not,” I told her, “I had more free time when all the kids were home for the summer!”

How quickly we all forget how much attention a baby needs the first few years of life. The active ones cannot be left alone for a second! I myself am guilty of forgetting this, as I have sometimes wondered why friends neglected to call for long periods of time after having a baby.

I go through my day logistically mapping every step in front of me. In the morning, I ask myself what chores I can accomplish with the baby with me. Today we ate breakfast together and went food shopping.

Because I cannot fit all our family’s food in one cart, I go through the store once, load up the car with the non-perishables; then go to the dairy and meats for a second run. The cashiers who are unfamiliar with me always make a funny comment when seeing me on their line for the second time. “Forget a few things?” When the baby fusses on the cashier line, I give her my cell phone and she happily pretends to talk to her daddy.

When we got back, I had to repeatedly place her in the farthest part of the living room away from the front door, then run to my car to get a few bags before she could get to the front door. A few times, she beat me to it, and I had to coax her away from the screen door so I could open it. After repeating this several times, I finally had the groceries loaded onto the kitchen table. I put her in the high chair with a banana while I quickly put the groceries away. Several times I had to stop what I was doing to rinse off the banana, which she kept throwing on the floor. Then I sat with her for my own lunch.

Finally, nap time. I am religious with our 12 to 2 nap time. I nurse her, put her down, and she is out. I think God made babies need naps because he knew mommies needed them to. This is the only time I have to myself until midnight.

Now I think to myself: what chores need to be done that I absolutely cannot accomplish with her with me? Sweeping or mopping the kitchen floor is always first on the list. Then bringing down the laundry. Today, for my major task I decided to clip the hedges in the front yard. I also chopped up the broccoli for dinner. I had a few moments to check my email and put up a post that I had already prepared ahead of time. I try to have most of the housework and errands completed before the kids get home from school. This way I can give them my full attention for the duration of the day.

The baby wakes up, we have a snack, and go out in the yard. At 3:20, we go out front and wait for the school bus. Although slightly fearful of the large yellow vehicle, her face lights up because she knows her siblings are home to play with her.

No homework this weekend – yay! We weeded and planted some bulbs together. We took the bunny for a walk around the yard. The kids played wiffle ball, until all the balls had landed in the pool. The baby played in the dirt, happy to get dirty and happier still to have a bath afterwards. It was another happy, productive, day in the life of this mom. I will sleep well tonight!

Pictured above: "The Menagerie" by Franz Sonderland


Joanna said...

Wow wow wow!!! Busy busy busy being such a wonderful Mom!

Joanna said...

I am thankful for YOU!