Ah, blog. I think of you often. I dream of writing posts. And then I do laundry/make lunches/tidy up/take care of the next thing on the to-do list.
I have no doubt my readers are in the same boat.
But I think, maybe, just maybe, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You see, my younger child started kindergarten. Kindergarten! And it’s full day! I’m not sure there are enough exclamation points to express my excitement!!! It’s been a decade since I’ve not had a small child in my care for the vast majority of the day. Ten years. Close to 11, actually, as child #1 turns 11 in December.
There have been short breaks: two or three hours to teach a class, and with Child #2, two hours twice a week while she was in preschool. (That’s long enough for an 8- or 9-mile run, but nothing more, and only if I ran from the parking lot and avoided more than a couple of stoplights.) Child #1 did not do preschool, of course, because she didn’t want to go if I wouldn’t be there and I didn’t want to shell out money to drag my kid to an activity that she would actively fight against. No worries there, by the way. Child #1 is a 5th grader who loves and excels at school. About a week before school started she said, “No offense Mom, but I’m really ready to go back to school.” That is pure awesomeness.
Child #2 was 5 months old when Child #1 started afternoon kindergarten. It was afternoon kindergarten, so I’d drop off one kid, drive home with the baby, stick in a load of laundry, nurse the baby and change her diaper, and turn right around to pick up the kindergartner. Half-day kindy was the right decision for her because it was enough time to get used to school and being around a bunch of other kids every day, but also short enough that she had plenty of time to enjoy the quiet of our home and recover from the sensory overload of a classroom with 24 kids.
Child #2 and I have been in a routine governed by the school day for several years now, but Child #2 has also been wanting to go to school since she was about 18 months old and tried to get in line with her first-grade sister. By age 3 she told me she wanted to go to school, not preschool but real school. (She eventually settled for preschool.) Child #2 has spent two years worth of once-a-week orchestra rehearsals in the music room, not to mention countless Tuesday afternoon extra practice sessions, a handful of early-morning choir rehearsals, some book fair set-ups, and of course, more school pick-ups than I can count. She’s been ready to be an official student for a long time. And on back-to-school night, she was jumping up and down, unable to contain her joy. She was still jumping up and down after we dropped off her supplies and were heading to her sister’s classroom, and continued to do for the next 20 minutes, telling every parent and teacher she knew that she was a KINDERGARTNER!
This evening she told me that now she wants to be a kindergarten teacher instead of a dog breeder. I told her she could be both. She had one of Paul’s conference name tag thingies filled with stickers, her teacher name tag, pencils, and a bell to catch the attention of students who were talking. Apparently her grandparents (Paul’s parents) who will be visiting this weekend will be her students. She had all sorts of questions for me, like whether most kindergarten classes have their subjects in the same order. Apparently she was planning out their day, though she later noticed that she’d accidentally left out recess. :P
So she’s happy. And we continue to be grateful to be able to have our kids at a school that is a great fit for them. Child #2 will join the beginning strings class there in a few weeks (and like her sister, she’s already been playing violin so that will be low-pressure), both girls are planning to do Chess Club and both girls will also be in choir (where I will not only be one of two accompanists, but also agreed to take on directing the Apprentice Choir this year). I already told Child #2 that I’d volunteer in her classroom because I did that for Child #1 in kindergarten and first grade, and she’s looking forward to that too.
And I’m hoping to turn a new corner–one in which I accomplish tons of things during the day and start sleeping normal hours again. I think it can happen. I know I need to be really organized–that became clear when the kids both went to VBS this summer and I had a four-day taste of freedom. But I think it will work.
So what do women do when they have their first taste of freedom in 10 years? Clean! Sad but true.
My oven is clean for the first time in years. It’s been long enough (not 10 years, but at least 3) that I had to do several applications of baking soda to get all the grime off. (The self-cleaning option is out of the question. The one time I used it, my husband made such a fuss about the smell that it’s just not worth it.) I worked through the pile of sewing that had built up on my sewing machine, and then bought the kids some new bottoms, all of which needed the waists pulled in, and worked through that pile too. I bathed the dog and trimmed him up a bit, biked some errands, went trail running, posted stuff I don’t need to Craigslist, downloaded videos to the computer and made DVDs to save them and even sent one to my grandmother, went through the kids’ clothes, re-organized some shelves, cleaned out Child #2’s desk, walked the dog a bazillion times, etc. You know–all the stuff that you know you need to get to but haven’t had a chance yet? I’m finally catching up on it.
Oh, and the paid work too. I can do it during the day! At least half of it was getting done after the kids were in bed, so that one is huge. They are old enough that I could do a phone interview in my office and they knew not to disturb me during the call, but it was next to impossible to write anything while they were running around.
What I hope:
- That I’ll establish a nice schedule that balances work, exercise, cleaning, errands, cooking, volunteering and child activities
- That I’ll be able to trail run once a week (or snowshoe, depending on the conditions)
- That I’ll start sleeping at least 6 hours every night (dare I hope for 6-1/2? Maybe?)
- That I’ll finally catch up on much of the little stuff
- That I’ll be able to carve out some time to at least finish and submit the two articles that have been in progress for at least three years to a journal. (No, I haven’t given up all hope on my academic career–and thanks to the Chronicle’s Vitae for helping me reshape my life in the alt-ac realm. It’s good to know that I have a lot of company on this journey.)
It will take time and I suspect it will be a bit of a process to establish a routine that is still plenty flexible (see: early release days, sick days, snow days, holidays. Also, the school board recall and upcoming election for the two other school board seats). But I think it can finally happen.
Puppy picture, just because. And puppy and kindergartner picture, also just because.