Sunday, June 21, 2009

Busy Summer, or “Amy Wins the Award for Biggest Understatement on the Planet”

To say it’s been a busy summer is a laughably stupid understatement.

To be clear and vividly honest, I went into teaching for the summer vacations. Yes, I like the kids (high school only, thankyouverymuch!). Yes, I enjoy what I do (teaching Art is soooooo much more my gig than teaching English!). But those three two-and-a-half two-ish months away from work are the biggest reason I do it. I’m a pretty solitary creature by nature. I only half-jokingly refer to myself as a misanthrope. When I’m in the classroom, I’m there 100%, I enjoy myself and I enjoy the kids. However, as soon as the year is over and my grades are all turned in, I’m done. I go home, hide out in my cave and try to soak up some solitude. That time away from people is rejuvenating. My brain reaches its calm point again (which is always pretty much shot somewhere between Spring Break and the final TAKS tests in early May). When I’m at home, alone, in complete solitude, the reverberations stop and I can think again.

Which brings me to my point. First of all, having a preschooler and a baby (she’s too old now to call an infant! where did my spring go?!?) in the house, while wonderful, is also kind of jarring, mentally. [See above.] For this reason, I’ve got the kids in daycare a few days a week, but staggered so that one day I’ve got both kids home with me and two other days I get to spend entirely with one or the other. I think Harrison was missing having Just Mommy Time and, quite frankly, I’ve missed it too, especially since he’s getting to such an interesting and fun age. Likewise, I’m enjoying my Baby Time with Laura and I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m neglecting Harrison while I’m cooing and playing games with her.  As my sanity saver, I get the remaining two days in blissful silence, all to myself in the house.

Now, before I get a lot of hate mail telling me that children are a gift from God and that if I can’t handle being in the same room with them for days on end, week after endless week, then I shouldn’t have had them, let me just say this:

Shut up.

I don’t judge other mothers when they do things differently than I do. When I see someone who home schools, I only fleetingly think, “There’s no freaking way!” before I think, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Totally not for me, but rock on, Sister!”

I don’t buy organic. The plants from my garden are organic, but only because I’m too cheap and lazy to apply fertilizers and I’ve found a system that works for me that negates the need for them. But if you feel that that’s important to you, grab it with both hands.

I work outside the house. Yeah, we could probably afford for me to be a SAHM if the kids were home with me instead of in daycare, but you know what? After not having my sacred quiet time, I’d be in the mental hospital and my kids would be entirely raised without a mother. And that’s got to be worse for a kid than spending a few hours at daycare a few days a week. If you enjoy being home with the kids all day (and I know a few SAHMs who do a great job of it, to the point that I occasionally am a little bit jealous of them), that’s wonderful.

I could go on. My son watches TV (30 minutes to an hour most days). He plays video games (Wii Sports or the Lego games, mostly, but occasionally Robert will face off with him on the Clone Wars lightsaber dueling game). He saw a PG-13 movie the other day and he’s only 4 (it was the new Star Trek, if you must know, and I covered his eyes during the scarier scenes and the one racy scene).

I’m not perfect and God knows I screw up, but my kids are great kids. Harrison is smart as a whip and is (usually) very polite (sometimes without being prompted!). He prefers tomatoes to any candy you can offer him and is an awesome budding reader. Laura laughs and smiles and is genuinely happy when her diaper is clean and she’s not hungry. She is learning new skills every week, sometimes every day, and is a joy to be around.

So don’t hound me about taking my kids to daycare a few hours each week. I’ve found my happy. Go find yours.

[Ok, rant officially over. I’ve just seen too many people who get a bug up their butts about this stuff and it’s easy to get defensive… ]

I had a point…

So summer’s here, the kids are in daycare, I’m chilling at the casa, right?


Secondly [you thought I forgot about that “First of all…” business up there, didn’t you? Heck, you forgot it, yourself, didn’t you?], I’ve yet to have a full day home by myself. The first week of summer, Harrison’s school was closed for their own holiday and so I got to spend lots of time with him. Really cool getting to be with him, but it’s exhausting to always be ‘on.’ The second week, we hadn’t started the staggering of the kids’ days home yet since I was going to a three-day workshop in Austin and so Laura would need to be in her daycare Monday and Tuesday, not Monday and Friday. So I had both kids home those two days. Again. And then I got to go to Austin with three of my Art teacher buddies for the CEDFA conference.

Now, I love my buddies—they’re the best co-workers a girl could ask for and I love spending time with them, especially at Art teacher conferences—we always have a great time.

But at this point, I’m exhausted. With no exaggeration, I’ve not had a single hour of solitude since the last day of school. My brain is melting.

Finally, this week I had both kids Monday and Harrison on Tuesday, as originally planned. Then Robert was home the rest of the week, recuperating from eye surgery.

Let me stress this: I love my husband and kids. But I’m tired. Really freaking tired. I’m clinging desperately to my happy thoughts at this point. Robert is an angel from heaven tonight when he offers to take Harrison out to get some supper and pick something up from the office so I can have an hour of quietish time. Laura is sleeping for the majority of the time. My head is reeling.

I have to get through Wednesday of this week before I get my coveted Amy’s Day. Both kids Monday, Harrison Tuesday, driving Laura to the doctor in Dallas (!) Wednesday because her kidneys are apparently enlarged and so this pediatric urologist wants to look at her (!). I’m hoping fervently that this guy will look at her, proclaim her normal and make us feel stupid for having driven all the way to Dallas for nothing.

Then Thursday, blissful Thursday. I won’t be answering the door. I won’t be answering my phone. I probably won’t even check my email. I don’t know just yet what I’ll be doing that day, but I’m 99.99% it won’t involve interacting with other people (until Robert comes home with the kids…).

After Thursday, back to work. Kids, on rotating days. Workshops now and again. There’s one I’m going to that shows how to use a reconfigured Wii-mote as a digital whiteboard gizmo something or other—looks pretty interesting.  Swimming lessons for the boy. I’ve been digging around on the ‘net and have found goobs and gobs of activities and crafts and stuff to do when Harrison’s home that we’re looking forward to doing. (Laura doesn’t get that kind of stuff this year—she just wants a clean diaper and food at this point.) Harrison and I are going to participate in a Pen Pal program that looks pretty cool. Hopefully these things will keep my son from staring at the TV, drooling, thumbs flicking as he gains another level at Lego Star Wars all summer.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to recharge my batteries some this summer so that in August when the kids start showing back in my classroom, I won’t be a raving lunatic.


God, I’m tired.

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