Well, if you are reading this I guess it means that we survived the End of the World. Or else it’s the first dispatch from the post-apocalyptic era. To be honest, either way is fine with me. I mean frankly, I’m just way too busy to be raptured. Just take a look at my calendar.
It is the most hectic season of the year for those of us with school-aged children. May: the dreaded month of field trips, school plays, projects due and end of year conferences all crammed into the last few weeks – the universal woe of parents and teachers everywhere. Not to mention the festivals and events specific to the Waldorf schools our children attend.
There’s May Day, the multicultural festival, the Greek Pentathlon, spring kindergarten market. I’ve been making wreaths, and baking taquitos, and up to my elbows in felted balls all month long. And of course there are all the birthdays this month. I can count at least seven off the top of my head, including 4 that landed on Saturday May 21st. We are too busy to even attend all these celebrations and as I say, way too busy for Armageddon.
One of these birthdays actually belonged to my grandmother Freda Powers, who marked her 92nd year on May 13th (woot woot Grandma!!). We sent our salutations over speakerphone as we drove back down from Auburn on that day returning from the 5th grade Pentathlon. “Happy Birthday Gigi” we all hollered. I apologized to her that we weren’t going to get to visit “in-person” until after school gets out for the kids in June. Our schedule is simply too jam-packed until then.
“I read your blog,” my Grandma said, acknowledging our many varied activities, “It’s exhausting”.
Just the other day, a dear friend sent me an email with details about two more school-related events. I thought it was a follow up on a conversation we’d been having about how much there was to do this month and how overwhelming all these celebrations are, even if they are simultaneously exciting and precious and important in our children’s lives. “Fun, fun, fun” she said in her email.
I won’t repeat what answered back to her, except to say I thought it was a personal message and that my crass response rhymes with “brother-trucker”. Turns out it was a group email to her friends and that I ‘Replied All’. Oops!
My bad attitude wasn’t directed towards the events themselves. The multi-cultural festival at Alice Birney turned out to be wonderful for the children ,even if an unseasonably arctic wind was blowing and we waited in line for an hour to get their faces painted! It was worth it.
And the fundraiser for my friend’s sixth grade class held at Sol Collective the same evening was a great success too (great kids, cool venue). So many creative things happening in our children’s lives.
No, my expletive was simply a comment on the sheer number of things on the calendar. It’s all for the good, I know, but it’s wearing me out. The lazy days of summer vacation can’t come soon enough.
Here’s my account of a recent week’s worth of activities as written on my kitchen calendar:
Monday – grocery shopping, laundry folding, clean the cat-box.
Tuesday – volunteer in son’s class, making bread with kindergartners. Dentist for kids @ 4pm
Wednesday – My turn for weekly childcare trade, take care of baby Zeke (9-2). Carpool 3pm. Surprise tickets to Cirque du Soleil show starts at 6pm. Get to see Quidam with my friends Mia & Trent.
Thursday – ride bike to pick up kindergartner ( yay exercise!). Afternoon doctor visit with for the little boys with our awesome pediatrician Dr. Dana Vigrain (annual check-up. all is well). Drive home to get to the “latch-key kids” who are there (4th-6th graders). They let themselves in and started their homework. Good job you guys!
Friday – make taquitos for the after-school market for kindergarten class. Take kid to violin lesson after school. Sign kid up for basketball summer season (why did I do that??)
Reading over it our schedule doesn’t sound AS busy as it felt, but do I need to add that during all these other weekly commitments looms the ever-present specters of Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner? This mother-gig is way more than a fulltime job. Where are my vacation hours??
Of course, there are those of us (who me?) that are a little bit “type A” and would find things to keep busy with, no matter what. Assorted other activities show up on this calendar, perpetrated solely on me, by me. Monthly therapy session (well, that’s a necessity). The afternoon that I scavenged bamboo from a roadside green waste heap (couldn’t help myself, they were gorgeous golden bamboo poles, for free!).
Another morning I drove with my friend Mama Sandra and our kids in her big white truck out to a landscape supplier for a cubic yard of wood chips. We impressed ourselves with our take-charge attitudes and our shoveling skills. But it was a lot of work. Luckily we had some help.
As I write this the weekend is proving no exception to our relentless schedule. It’s my husband’s birthday as well as the lovely and aforementioned Mama Sandra (birthday blessings to both you Geminis!) ; the 5th grader has basketball tryouts; we have a double-birthday party to attend for a couple of 7 year-olds (our kids are developing their own busy social lives); there is another friend’s housewarming that we will sadly miss because we’re travelling down to Berkeley to visit with my parents and oh yeah, this post is due!
“I don’t know how you do it” my step-mom Michela often remarks when I’m regaling her with tales of our daily activities. To be honest, neither do I.
Sometimes it flows, and while the calendar may be packed, it all seems to come together with a little planning and a lot of luck. Other days the gears just get stuck and I’m hit with the realization that we are trying to do too much.
What I’ve come to understand about parenting and having a busy family is that there is an art to ‘turning on a dime’. It’s knowing when to make adjustments to the plans, when to call it a day and when it’s time to drop the “to-do’s” and have a cup of tea and read the kids a story instead. I’m not perfect at it but I sure am getting a lot of practice!
So yes, we are overscheduled with exciting activities, necessary commitments, and totally unnecessary distractions. And yes, we could do with some more long boring hours and blank days on that kitchen calendar. But don’t let me make it all sound so dreadful.
I should be sure to tell you about the many sweet moments that lie in amongst these hectic hours. The sun shining dappled through the trees at that children’s party we went to; the unadulterated enthusiasm of our young children to see their grandparents this weekend; the gentle morning song of the birds and the diamonds of dew resting on the young tomato plants in my garden this morning.
During these moments on Saturday the 21st, the day of supposed Judgment, I found myself thinking, ‘well, what if this really all was going to end with a bang today??’ And I found myself feeling like, it was Okay. If these were my last experiences of Life, then busy as they as are, they are good ones.
Someone posed this question on Facebook yesterday morning: “so how are YOU spending your last hours on earth?” My answer? : “Birthday parties and Basketball”. And you know what? I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t get any better than that.