Archive for the 'School' Category

Turns out, I need structure

NS September 22nd, 2009

The Noble Child started at her pre-school last Friday and is now going four mornings a week. The other morning, Thursday, she goes to her grandma’s house for the day. That means that every day of the week we have to be out of the house by 9am sharp. It also means she’s out of my house every morning. This has turned out to be a very good thing. Not just for her, but for me.

Before she started, I often shuddered at the thought of having to go from lazing around all morning to performing the military operation of getting children and self ready and out the door on time for school. I thought of myself as more free-spirited, less regimented than that. School uniforms on, bags packed, breakfast made and eaten, showered, dressed, hair combed and tied back, appropriate shoes and jackets located, snacks/lunches packed, pushchair and scooter ready to go (or kids in carseats, if driving), all before 9am?! You’re mad, I would’ve said. M-A-D. There is NO way this will happen, or at least it won’t happen without tears, tantrums and frantic last-minute dashes back inside the house for forgotten items, half-eaten toast and skimming of crumpled newsletters outlining what the children should bring with them or do on that particular day as I smack a palm to my forehead in panic.

I will crumble under the pressure, under the authoritarianism of it all, I thought. I’m not one of those super-efficient working mothers who does this every day without blinking, I’m a lazy, coddled SAHM who doesn’t HAVE to be anywhere, really. I won’t be able to hack it. But it turns out, I was wrong. Really wrong.

Not ony have I managed to get us all ready and there with time to spare, but I’ve been so much more productive in all other areas of my life as well. Being showered and fed and out the door seems to be curing what I thought was my laziness and gives me some kind of strange energy I had forgotten I ever possessed. I’ve been ticking things off of my to-do list, engaging more fully and happily with the children, getting more housework done, cooking healthier meals, spending less time on the internet and more time reading and working on my book, and I even applied for a full-time freelance job. I’m in the middle of this starburst of creativity and patience and, dare I say, contentment.

So this is what it must feel like to be one of those happy SAHMs, I realise, not the miserable, snarling, impatient onesĀ  who just wants FIVE MINUTES TO HER FREAKIN’ SELF isthatsomuchtoaskhmm? before her goddamn head explodes and the wine is poured prompty at five because it’s the only thing keeping her hanging onto a very thin thread.

I feel content. I feel fulfilled. I feel happy.

I haven’t said those words (and meant them) in a very long time, it seems. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not been so down that I haven’t had moments of contentment or happiness or fulfillment, but not all three. Not all at once, for more than a few hours, or a day.

Granted, I realise that the first week of school often does this to people (from what I’ve read on mothers with more experience under their belts) and that inertia may eventually set in again, but even if it does, I now know that as much as I resisted the idea, I need structure to my days. I am a much better parent when I keep going and stay busy, not allowing myself to sit down and think too much about all the things that are going wrong or that I’d rather be doing. I thrive on having a full, varied schedule with the children, even if it’s just “Tuesday: cafe for tea. Wednesday: playground with friend down the road. Friday: ballet and then out for ice cream.” Or whatever. But I’ve noticed that if I take the kids out twice a day, even if it’s just to the shops or the library or to climb to the top of a hill and then race down, we all get on so much better. I suppose being cooped up in a small terraced house all day, tripping over one another and generally just getting on each other’s nerves is a recipe for disaster, really. It’s a wonder we’re all still alive. Cramped spaces make everything seem worse, don’t they?

I know that once winter sets in and life settles down again and the newness wears off, I might find myself backsliding to that place, the one I now know was teetering on the edge of depression, but for now I’m enjoying the moment. I’m connecting with my kids, especially TNC, like I haven’t in quite awhile. Our relationship is thriving. They deserve a better, happier, more balanced mother. And it turns out, all I needed to make that happen was an early shower and spending a lot more time out of the house. Who knew?

All I can say is thank god for the iPhone. Instead of wanting to get back home because I’m bored stiff at the playground and want to check emails, I can just park myself on a bench and keep one eye on my progeny while the other composes electronic messages.

Technology, you will be either the undoing of me or the making of me. I guess we’ll find out which soon enough.

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