Friday, April 17, 2009

A Comedy of Errors

I have written about all the pre-planning that goes into the spring sports season, with three children playing softball and baseball in three different divisions, at three different locations, and a husband that works late.

Certain things I can have control over: commitments outside of sports, meal-planning, and my attitude, to a certain degree. I don’t have control over: the weather, the game schedule, and school assignments.

I know some mothers of multiple children who don’t seem to plan ahead for anything. Their lives seem to be in constant chaos as they realize they are supposed to be somewhere and then run around like chickens without their heads, trying to get everyone together. I really don’t know how I could live like that. That kind of disorder would make my brain explode, but I do have a special admiration for those who can pull it all together at the last minute, on a daily basis.

I have a color-coded dry-erase board which I consult religiously, and refer all questions to the board. “Don’t ask me about the schedule,” I scold, “I can’t possibly keep it all in my head. That’s what the board is for.”

All day Monday I felt like something was gripping my heart. I was so nervous about how I was going to really handle this season, now that it really was upon me. We have a triple header every Saturday starting this weekend, I explained to my husband. “I can help out with that,” he said calmly. “Yeah, but what about the weeknight games? So far I only have our daughters’ schedules and already there are 3 conflicts. What if I have 3 in one night? I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack,” I whined.

“Do you ever hear about women your age having heart attacks? You probably just pulled a muscle. You’re over-thinking – and over-feeling,” my husband cautioned.

“No, I’m planning ahead,” I argued, “That is how I manage to get a nutritious meal on the table every night at 4:00 and keep a certain degree of order around here.” Really I was just trying to make him feel bad about his schedule, which he cannot completely control either.

“Maybe we should take them out of sports, so you don’t have to deal with it,” he said, with his poker face.

“You know that’s not an option. They get too much out of it to not do it.”

It’s too bad I hadn’t had my voice of reason around earlier in the day to calm me down, but at least he brought my blood pressure down before I lay myself down to sleep.

Last week went okay, with a few laughable errors on my part. None of them really mattered in the long run, although I did feel that I looked foolish. I was just glad to have everyone home in one piece at the end of each night.

It was cold and drizzly all week, and practices were (thankfully) spaced so that each child was playing on a different night. Monday morning I picked up the telephone when the manager of my eldest daughter’s softball team called. My throat was filled with flem, the way it is every morning during allergy season. “Ribbit?” I answered the phone. “Um, hello?” “Ahem, ribbit, I mean hello?” I felt like I had to explain myself when I met her. “I’m sorry I couldn’t talk the other morning, I had really bad allergies, you must have thought I was dumb or something,” I blurted out. (“Did I just say dumb? Now I feel even dumber,” I thought to myself.) “No, I didn’t think that at all,” she said, kindly. (“Oh yeah, she’s just being nice, now she really thinks it,” I thought, and ran off to the playground with the other kids.)

The next day it was my son’s turn to practice. There were about a dozen teams playing on the field, with first-come-first-take being the policy for obtaining a field. I asked my daughter to help her brother find his team, and brought my other two daughters to the playground. About ten minutes later, she was back. “Did he find the right team?” I asked. “Well, the coach said, ‘Hey big guy’, and he said it was his team,” she answered. A few minutes later I ran into another mother from the team, whom I had met on Saturday morning. I pointed to where the boys were playing, “No, they’re over there,” she said, pointing in another direction. Upon close inspection, I saw that she was right. So I hiked across the fields, found my son, and interrupted practice to explain to the coach that this was not his player. “You’ve been traded early,” the coach joked, good-naturedly. Then I brought him to the right team, late for the second time. (We’d also been late on Saturday morning because he couldn’t find his glove, and he wound up showing up with a t-ball glove, which the coach rightly explained to me was not safe to use in baseball.)

No mishaps in my middle daughter’s softball practice. I had been 0-for-3 last week and wound up batting a thousand this Thursday night, the first night with scheduling conflicts that I had been worrying about on Monday. I dropped one off at 5:55, the other two at 6:00, went to get the first one at 7:15, and was back at the second field at 7:20 for the other two, just as practice was closing out. And all with a sick toddler in tow. Phew! I was so glad to have them all together in one spot again! We all consumed massive quantities of chocolate bunnies and chocolate pudding pie that night, with extra whipped cream.


Loren Christie said...

Wow. What a week. I give you credit. Too bad the girls can't like different activities so the conflicts aren't so bad. Big brother starts t-ball next week and Milk Man volunteered to be his coach. There is no way I can handle the activities by myself. I already feel like that mess of a parent you described, despite my dry erase calender.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

We just got back from the first full Saturday of games and it was challenging even with two parents involved! I know this sounds hard to believe, but I think it would be worse if they were in different activities. I can be in one single mind set although spread a little thin. At least all the parents understand where I'm going to and from, and some years the girls are in the same age division. I just got a set of 4 "push-to-talk" phones so I can maintain verbal contact with the kids and have more peace of mind.

Elena said...

Wow, it sets my head spinning just reading about your week, lol. As a single homeschooling mum I only just managed taxiing my only son around to various tennis venues for coaching, training, practice, squad, competitions and tournaments. Heavens knows what I would've done if I had more children. I would've needed help for sure. It's for the children I know but look after yourself in the midst of it all :)

artofmotherhood said...

My kids are still young and are into all sorts of pre-scheduled activities that I never had. Would their lives be better than mine? I don't know. I think I'm doing this more for myself to keep them in order or busy. Otherwise, my house would be in total utter chaos. I wish I could think of other things to keep them pre-occupied, e.g., piano or writing.

Barb, sfo said...

I've got that kind of nutty week coming up, and I'm sitting here hyperventilating over the menu plan and what we will eat tomorrow night (the ONLY night that no one has something on the schedule) in this tropical heat....
Had to laugh about your son practicing with the wrong team!

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Thanks for all the great comments. Many parents are in the same boat here. Elena, I know many single parents (both moms and dads) who are constantly going back and forth between fields, and other team parents do help each other out; still it must be very difficult. Barb, tonight I wound up making an oven stuffer chicken in the middle of this heat, but I have a ceiling fan upstairs that sucks in alot of the heat. The leftover chicken will be good for Tues. night (a big one for us because I have a required school meeting on top of a softball game)and I have leftover turkey sausage for Mon. night. (The kids hated it, so I'll never buy it again, but I won't waste food!) I'll make up for it with a good dessert. Last week I made chocolate chip pancakes one night and the kids loved it! And Art of Motherhood, I do think it is important to have a great deal of unstructured time where everybody just hangs out around the house reading and doing whatever. Leaving them unentertained for a while will help them to be more creative on their own.