It’s true we are doing a lot right now (BUILDING A HOUSE). It’s true that I sometimes freak out and am overwhelmed easily. I don’t feel like we are chronically over scheduled like some families, but there are four people here with interests and needs to be honored and pursued.
I keep trying to do the math, like figure out the big equation with all of the variables to see what could be subtracted:
- One husband, works full-time, managing tons of house-related details as GC for the site work phase. Takes one class (algebra II) one evening per week. Likes to take bike rides when he can and do martial arts (once per week). Deals with the garbage/dump and bills. Shares cooking, shopping, etc. Likes being social.
- One wife, works full-time, easily overwhelmed. Takes either a yoga class or an exercise class per week. Gets up at 5:10 to do pilates exercises at home. Family scheduler, manager of home details. Shares meal planning, preparation. Throws away tired out bouquets. Makes lunches. Good thing her friends understand that she is no good on Friday nights and don’t take it personally that she has little time for socializing in person.
- One older son, blessedly self-motivated in school, likes to play video games in his spare time, socializes with friends, sometimes contradances under duress. Likes to discuss big ideas of history and government, ethics, ideas for papers, brainstorming search terms. Sometimes paints with watercolors in his spare time.
- One younger son, sporty and active and in need of daily exercise. Plays one sport per season (baseball now). Needs help and support with homework nightly. Is an excellent writer and speller. Would prefer to have constant attention from father and would probably really have been happy to live in a neighborhood of playmates. Practices violin under duress.
But there really isn’t a lot to be shaved out of this equation when I consider the variables.
Most weeks I barely make it through Friday by holding on with my fingernails to my little scrap of sanity.
I have a lot of stress related to leaving the house in the mornings, particularly when we have to bring Sylvan to the sweet people who bring him to school 3 days a week, since we have to be at school and our day starts before you can even drop a child off at Sylvan’s school. Some days we leave the house before Sylvan when he gets a ride from a passing carpool.
And I actually got a little angry this week at Sylvan’s school. Like, is Waldorf education actually meant for two parents who work full-time jobs and have no nanny or grandparent or doula to help with the other necessary details of life? (And my god, we are two teachers—on a similar daily schedule with Sylvan, it’s not like we work until 5 or 6!) I have a lot of guilt for not being able to be a participant in the life of the school like I used to.
And so, racing home one afternoon, I needed to pick up white eggs for a Pysanky egg-dyeing field trip, and Sylvan was getting over a cold, and I took a stupid chance that Rite Aid would have white eggs (you know, Easter, seasonal eggs???), and then there were no white eggs at Rite Aid. And no way was I returning to the madness of the grocery store at peak shopping hours (THE ONLY CHANCE I EVER GET TO SHOP NOW THAT I WORK FULL TIME), between 3-6. So I bought a crappy candy bar and ate it, didn’t even really enjoy it, just ate it out of stress and pure frustration.
And there was also a parent meeting for Sylvan’s class that night. (Also, did I have to blow out the eggs, once procured?) And make dinner? And be nice to my family, maybe even fun?! Isn’t it enough that we make healthy family meals during which we converse about interesting topics? And that one parent is there to oversee S. doing homework every night? Harangue said child to practice his instrument with some regularity? And even sometimes get to read together and cuddle and joke? Jake literally got home from banging the 300 iron spikes off of our foundation with Jonas, had a brief dinner and turned around to get the white eggs and make an appearance at the meeting. He has such a greater sense of the possible than I do.
Is this our life now? Feeling guilty and bad about what I can’t give to our kids? I want to remember that I only have a few more years with them and get myself back into perspective. But I think it comes down to this: I will always choose family time over a meeting, having a relaxed meal together rather than a hurried one, to choose to do less so I can be with these sweet people more. Particularly now that I work outside the home.