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Ignoring the Obvious August 3, 2006

Posted by Amy in Uncategorized.
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So, yesterday? When I was reflecting on how life right now is going along at a semi-manageable pace? I forgot one huge factor: Mr. T is off work all week.

When J began to throw a tantrum at Costco yesterday, I could look at the other adult with me and laugh when J told us, “You ALWAYS do this to me!” (“This” referred to letting her brother hold the Costco receipt the man at the door had drawn a funny picture on.) Without Mr. T there, I would have been struggling to buckle a crying child into her booster seat while also dealing with a cart full of too-heavy groceries.

Well, okay: without Mr. T there, I wouldn’t have taken two kids to Costco because I’ve pretty much given up on that exercise in frustration — long lines, crowded parking lot, food/movies/toys they both wish they could have at every turn.

In my dream world, he’d work a few hours a day, I’d work a few hours a day, and we’d be able to share the daily parenting stuff like making lunches and taking kids swimming and arranging playdates the way we have this week.

Don’t get me wrong — he’s far more available than many parents I know with full-time jobs, mostly, in my opinion, because he’s had working mom bosses who absolutely understand that kids get sick or have appointments with specialists that can’t be rescheduled or field trips that need chaperones. These women have been balancing full-time paid work with mothering for longer than we have, and they’re under no illusion that every dad has a wife at home to pick up all the slack.

He’s also got a pretty generous vacation and sick leave allowance, so taking a day off here and there to work in a kid’s classroom or stay home with a sick child on one of my teaching days is usually no problem. Being able to work from home on the laptop makes a huge difference, too. More than anything, he’s an equal parent in his mind; he doesn’t think of any of the work of raising children as being specifically my job, now that breastfeeding is no longer a part of our lives.

But right now, when we’ve both got extremely flexible work schedules going on and no sports practices or school dropoffs and pickups to fit in, I can see where being independently wealthy would be kind of nice. I just like having him around, you know? He makes me laugh and he takes over when H is starting to lose it and he brings me the new Sonic Youth album before I’ve even asked for it. I’m lucky.

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Annual Summer-Will-End Panic Attack August 2, 2006

Posted by Amy in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday, H and J each had a friend over to play. At one point, H and V and H’s friend were doing a puppet show (with many scatalogical references) and J and her friend were out back painting the playhouse with mud.

I had two seconds of smug happiness: “See? Benign neglect DOES work…” before the panic hit me full-force.

Because right now? The kids don’t have to be anywhere early in the morning. I am not teaching four college classes. There are no homework logs to sign off on, no permission slips to frantically search for in the pile of school papers that takes over the kitchen counter from September to June, no desperate requests from PTSO members or children’s teachers for more glue sticks or more volunteers in the classroom/at the bake sale/whatever, no student papers to grade or emails to answer, no classes to prepare for.

And still, we’re out of bananas and juice and down to the last few inches of milk. We had Chinese food delivered last night, and I’m fully planning for us to live on the leftovers for another day. The laundry is still kicking my ass (those damn beach towels from all the swimming are the bane of my existence).

But then I remembered what will make that fall switch into our mama-at-work lives possible: public school, which is free and where my children–all three, for the first time ever–will be each day for six hours.

I have this same panic each summer, when I can’t imagine how I’ll fit full-time work into an already full life. It’ll happen. We’ll be fine. Cereal and scrambled eggs ARE fine for dinner. (And truly? J has eaten tortilla chips for dinner three of the last five nights. Cereal and eggs would be a huge improvement.)