On Friday, M called me about 20 minutes after she left for school. She’d forgotten a book report project. Could I please, please drop it off?
Usually, M’s terribly responsible. But in what I fear is an unwelcome new trend, she’d forgotten something just a week before. So as soon as I took Friday morning’s call, I was cursing myself, because I’d forgotten to lecture her about that one. Actually, as the phone rang, I first feared it was J calling to say that she was too sick to be at school, because she’d acted tough but I knew she wasn’t feeling great, but I let her go anyway because of the leprechaun trap and all. As soon as I realized that the call was M, my thought was, “Dang! I meant to tell her that she didn’t get any more bailouts!” I thought this, sloooowwwly, while M waited on tenterhooks at the other end of the line, the long pause increasing her anxiety. “Please Mom?” she whimpered, “I don’t have much time!” It was pitiful. So, time for what? Time until she reported for class? Because the drama with which those words were delivered sounded like she was suffering from a terminal illness. “Okay,” I sputtered, half-asleep, still, if truth be told. I don’t drink coffee, so I really need a good hour before I’m fully wakeful in the morning. “But this is the last time.”
So I pulled on a pair of jeans and schlepped over to the school to drop off her poster right away. Just to get it done. Here’s what I didn’t do before schlepping to the school:
- Put on a bra.
- Brush my teeth.
So imagine my delight when I realized that Friday morning was also the morning for the monthly school-wide assembly. The entire school gathers, and so do many, many parents. For any given assembly, there is usually a grade performing a song or announcing something at the microphone along with kids appearing in a slide show for upcoming birthdays accompanied by Tom Chapin’s Happy Birthday song. The children cheer and the parents sway to the music, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and document the occasion. Really, it’s a delightful little assembly every time. It’s the kind of activity that makes stay-at-home parents think, “Wow, I’m glad that I don’t have to be at an office this morning” as they attend, and if they miss it, they feel at least mildly guilty, as in, “How can I possibly miss this event when it’s exactly the sort of thing I stayed home for?” Meanwhile working parents feel sorrowful about missing it, even though there isn’t much substance to it, or, in my friend’s case, that working parents scramble to attend because their child foists a massive guilt trip on them.
So there I was, bra-less and stink-mouthed, greeting 20 or 30 acquaintances who stood between me and my 5th grader. I finally delivered my parcel, then slipped out of the gym, sheepishly avoiding eye contact with everyone whenever possible. The truth is I only attend the assemblies when my kids have a specific role to play or if they say that they’d like me to come, and since as far as they’re concerned, they’re reading to grab my car keys and drive off to college, this means that I only make it a few times a year. Usually, I try to be more presentable.
I had a couple of random pictures which are sort of day-in-the-life-of-Katie, so I’m sharing them.
Now that I’m home alone without the kids for a significant chunk of most days (the past couple of weeks, with sick days, snow days, and half days being an exception), I’ve realized that I’m much better at thinking when the kids are gone. I try to separate my tasks so that the ones that take my full attention (writing, making business calls) happen while they’re gone and the easy-and-mindless stuff (picking up clutter, washing dishes) happens while the kids are around, since I can do that while chatting about the day or stopping every 3 minutes to help with math homework. Lately I’ve started accumulating notes and “In Box” sort of stuff for the girls, because otherwise I keep forgetting to ask them about it. So here’s a little pile-up awaiting the girls return from school:
Here’s a picture that I had to take because I feel like this is the sort of thing I do all the time. J is scarfing down a sub-standard early dinner while I’m brushing her hair into a side ponytail. I’m multi-tasking because I’m running late, again. I’m not late all the time. Actually, my problem is that I’m perpetually early enough to fit one more thing in before I leave the house. Or so I think, until I realize that I actually wasn’t. And doing something like brushing somebody’s hair at the table
always makes me feel like I’m doing a sucksville job as a mother because when I was a kid, we weren’t allowed to wield a brush in the kitchen at all. So this feels like abhorrent behavior, even as I’m doing it. And for the record, J usually does her own hair, but lately she’s been dousing herself with hair product and creating colossal Hair Issues that need to be addressed by someone with a little more experience.
That’s what’s going on at our house these days.