“Sometimes I’m so tired, I look down at what I’m wearing, and if it’s comfortable enough to sleep in, I don’t even make it into my pajamas. I’m looking down, and I’m like, ‘T-shirt and stretchy pants? Yup, that’s fine. It’s pajama-y, good night.’
~ Rebecca Romijn
“In 1970, 48% of children (34 million) had a mother who stayed at home.” As of 2014, that number (after a decades-long sharp decline and then another increase), was at 28%. There are many idiosyncrasies within those statistics. However, those basic statistics are relevant, here. They tell us that 28% of women in this country share a commonality: staying at home to care for their children. That means 72% of women in this country are doing something else: attending college; grinding away at two or three jobs every day; putting their degree to great use in a stellar career; or even living on the streets battling their own versions of demons. Although each of the writers at Graceful Grit is attending college, we all live very different lives. This article will chronicle the events of my life on one recent day.
It’s Friday at 6:45 a.m. With my head buried under blankets, I hear my husband and oldest son head out for school.
8:00 a.m.: I wake the twins and greet our puppy.
8:15 a.m.: I wake the twins again.
8:30 a.m.: I tell the twins I’m getting into the shower and that we are leaving for school in 30 minutes.
8:35 a.m.: I get out of the shower (yep, FIVE glorious minutes to myself), get dressed, and remind the twins we have a schedule (but do we, really?).
8:55 a.m.: I remind the children, yet again, that we sort-of have a schedule.
9:03 a.m.: “WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!” I yell throughout the house.
9:10 a.m.: I take a deep breath behind the steering wheel, glance at the kids in the rearview mirror, then turn around to remind them, yet again, that we have been doing this for at least four years so could they please BUCKLEUPANDTIETHEIRSHOES!?
9:13 a.m.: Three minutes into our drive, I realize I forgot my schoolbook, so I make a u-turn and race back home (the kids are already late. Does it matter anymore?).
9:19 am: We eventually make it to school, but as we get out of the car, one of my adorable twins tells me he forgot something that he must return today. I slowly turn my head up and squint at the bright, blue sky. Somewhere in the sun, I catch a glimpse of me sitting on a beach, twenty years younger. “Mom!” I hear. “MOM!” Remembering where I am, I look back toward my kids and wonder, since we’re already late, does another fifteen minutes really make that much of a difference? I decide it doesn’t! We all get buckled up and return home again – where the boy is in and out in less than a minute, and we are driving back to school before I have time to further question my existence.
9:26 a.m.: It’s not even 9:30 yet!
Next, I drive to our local bakery, order and caress a large mocha, then drive to my parents’ house. My dad broke his tailbone last week, so I’ve arrived to drive him to a doctor’s appointment. The man is almost six-foot-seven, but I help him make it safely to my car. We listen to “his” music – 1960s – at full volume, and sometimes, we sing together. It’s a new bonding activity that has developed over the last four years, since we’ve lived near each other. In the lobby of the doctor’s office, he gets into a wheelchair; but I don’t know how to handle a wheelchair, so the next thing I know, the footrest has fallen off, and our laughter and shenanigans have caught the attention of everyone going in-and-out. I decide it’s not the right footrest, so dad stacks his feet on one rest, I place the extra one in the corner of the hall, and…well, I intend to push him, but he’s a heavy guy. It takes me throwing all my weight into it to get it going, and then we slowly creep uphill toward the elevator. Once we get into the doctor’s office, a urine sample is requested, so we struggle together to get him out of the wheelchair. He makes it into the bathroom and back on his own, and then sits down, again. Five minutes later, the nurses call him in, but he’s already been up and down a few times and his tailbone is broken; so this time, rising takes a tremendous amount of effort on his part – plus one chair for stability, and the help of two additional people in the office. My poor Papa. I love the big guy, and it saddens me to see him struggling physically, when physicality was always one of his great strengths while I was growing up.
The appointment ends, and then we drive to the pharmacy, first (he and mom need medicine picked up!). Then, we are off to the grocery store. I pick up a few things for them, and for my own family (that’s a plus, getting that out of the way). After the shopping (he’s waiting in the car), I get him safely returned home. I return to my own house, where I’ve left my mother-in-law – who is currently staying with us – cooking multiple casseroles: one for us to eat for dinner, one for the freezer, and one for my parents.
I don’t think I mentioned that my own mom has advanced cancer – and a clot in her lung – so she’s walking around with oxygen; therefore, she cannot use her gas stove. So, my mother-in-law is kindly whipping up dinner for them, as well. Thanks, Mother-in-Law.
At this point, it’s now 12:30 p.m.
I make myself lunch, and do some slicing and dicing for the in-progress casseroles. I run into my office to check my email, and I ask myself, for at least the third time, if I have forgotten any homework for the day? At 1:30 p.m., I leave the house to pick up my oldest son from school. I spend twenty-five minutes, parked in the rain, reading my schoolbook while I wait for him. Once in the car, we drive to the auto-store, because I’ve noticed my wipers need to be replaced.
*A quick break in the narrative: At this point, I have to wonder if I am blurring two days together. Hmmmm. Please hold while I try to remember what happened in my life during those forty-eight hours. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Okay, I have consulted the calendar (not kidding), and it seems that I took dad to the doctor on Thursday and I had a hair appointment on Friday. Yay for me! So, what actually happened is everything that happened up to me caressing my mocha. And now you know why I do that. My mocha doesn’t need anything from me, and only wants to comfort me. Thanks, Mocha.
So, I went to the hair appointment, where I had a little bit of my pre-children days foiled back in; I ran into the grocery store for a few items: and then I returned home to the casserole-making. I took a prepared casserole with me when I went to pick up my son; then he and I drove to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for dad (yes, second day in a row), and then we went to their house to deliver the prescription and the casserole.
A package had been incorrectly delivered to their house that morning, but a quick Google search located the business of the addressee; so, my son and I took the package, dropped it off, and then returned to our house. I spent about one hour working on homework before the twins got home from school, then I gave them a snack and made a salad to go with our casserole dinner. We sat down to eat at 4:45 p.m. (it’s a bit early, I know), but that’s because at 5:15 p.m., husband took the twins and dropped them off at swim-practice. He returned home while I cleaned the kitchen and started a load of laundry. At 6:50 p.m., husband took our oldest and dropped him off for swim-practice, and brought the twins back home. The twins got into the shower, and I ran back into my office to do homework for another twenty minutes. I then experimented with a couple of batches of kettle-corn, put the best-tasting one into a Ziploc bag, jumped into the car with the twins, and drove to the movie theater to get seats and wait for my husband and oldest to arrive. We were the only ones inside the theater, so the twins ran around like Looney Tunes and I enjoyed the relaxation that only comes when my children are in a confined space. Sure, they could have tumbled down the stairs at any moment, but when you have kids, you have to weigh actions and consequences almost minute-by-minute. The consequence, in that situation, was that I could put my feet up and daydream. At 9:05 p.m., everyone had arrived, the theater had more people in it, and we enjoyed a film together for an hour-and-a-half.
When we got home, two of the kids were in bed and asleep within seconds, but a third needed more food! I got him fed and into bed. After that, I sat downstairs and visited with my husband and mother-in-law for a bit, got myself ready for bed, and laid my head upon my own pillow right around 12:15 a.m. the next morning.
Sometime early Saturday morning, while it was still dark outside:
“Shhhhh, I’m sleeping.”
Sometime later, but still early:
“Shhhh. Let Mama sleep.”
Eventually, all three of my boys were running up and down the stairs, yelling like they were outside on a playground. Then the puppy started barking, because he’s really just a little boy who wants to play, too. Some days, I am amazed at how much I can gracefully get through during my waking hours (and when the kids are sick, my sleeping hours!) Other days, I honestly don’t know how I will get through another minute of my life. But it is so true what people say: those kids of mine will suddenly do or say the sweetest thing to me, like, “You don’t really look that bad this morning, mom. I like that ugly sweater.” Almost instantly, all of my frustration will simply melt away. It’s the weird magic of being a mother and tomorrow, it will all begin again.