At first it was bliss. Having those little darlings home. Cooking breakfast at our leisure. Creating adventures that I never had as a child, and they never had while I was working full time in an office. It was like Julie Andrews was singing quietly in the background as our soundtrack to life.
Then the routine started to hit some expected struggles. Instead of snuggling together in the morning, my kids were rushing straight to the TV. I would, as any parent, at first enjoy the extra 15 - 30 minutes to sit with some quiet, my thoughts, and my coffee before starting breakfast.
Then, my gentle requests to turn off the TV would turn into three request, then the “1-2…” counting. Then the consequence. Then the indignant screaming and stomping and arms crossed and furrowed brow.
Next thing I know, we are at full scale war against one another. Sneaking tablets, video games and TVs every time I turned my back. It was like asking them to amputate their arm to go outside or meet friends to go swimming.
And there was zero productivity from this lady. I wasn’t able to get anything done. Grocery store, doctor appointments, anything was a massive negotiation (which I typically lost) and would result in lost privileges for everyone involved. No playdates, no TV, no joy. For anyone in the house. No exceptions.
Finally, one glorious day in August came, and I just knew my faith in my children and myself was about to restored. No more where the days of staying up until 11:00 p.m. just get some email answered. Or having to wash and fold laundry while refereeing a version of elementary school cage fighting. They leapt out of bed, bounced down the stairs, scarfed their breakfasts and ran off with their backpacks heavy with lunches and new pencils to start the first day of school.
Letting out a huge exhale and remarking to myself how I can finally start knocking off that project list, I got back in my car and drove home. Here we go productivity!
Drop kids off at school, then drive straight to my driveway where I sit in my car for a full 10 minutes. Staring at nothing.
Log into my email and delete the 142 promotional emails.
Watch the video that was texted to me from another mom with the Target ladies shopping on the first day of school. Utter nonsense, but sadly it makes me laugh. #solo I watch it three more times.
Surf the internet for the next 2 hours. Total randomly.
Remind myself I don’t have time to surf the internet totally randomly.
Get into the shower, and use soap this time.
Sit at the bottom of the shower, right in the stream of hot water, turn it hotter, and just act like an asshole that isn’t living in a drought.
Remind myself I am an asshole living in a drought and turn off the water.
Continue to lay there, steaming for another 2 minutes.
Get out of the shower, and get ready.
Stop at my favorite coffee shop that I haven’t been able to go to in 3 months. Get a coffee.
Race around the grocery store because I have 23 minutes before I have to be back in my car and driving back to school.
Debate which kid’s classroom I want to be standing in front of when the bell rings. Feel like a scene from Sophie’s Choice. Totally make one kid’s day, while finding the other one moping around campus because I wasn't standing in front of their classroom at the bell.
Haul kids home, along with groceries that have been sitting in my car for almost an hour and make a note to overcook the meat.
Space out on auto pilot for the rest of the day ticking off lists, like homework, showers, brushing teeth, cooking and eating dinner. Hope to myself that I didn’t do it in that order. My brain is too tired and hazy to know for sure, however.
Wake up and drive an hour to amazing remote shoot. Work all day hiking up and down rocky terrain capturing some version of perfection. Make my husband do my job of lunches, dropping off, picking up and juggling dinner.
Stay gone long after my job is over.
Immediately when I walk in the door, listen to a detailed explanation of how my son learned to make a popping noise when he hooks his finger out of his mouth. Wonder where he learned that. And why.
Pretend I don’t know my family. When we meet awkwardly in the kitchen, offer them food for their compliance. Spend the day staring at my computer screen, catching up on emails, scheduling, following up and making lists.
Labor Day Holiday
Wonder to myself why on Labor Day I don’t get the day off, too. Also wonder why it happens so early in the school year? Bribe the husband with sex in exchange for taking kids to the park to give me a day to myself. Try not to be offended when the husband laughs at my bride.
Day three (after a three day weekend):
Drink coffee that is offered to me by my post workout, sweaty husband as some kind of good will offering before he jumps in the shower and leaves me again.
Make breakfast and lunches.
Take precious and loving children to school.
Go home, change into my under utilized yoga pants and sprint to yoga like its my job.
Go to the grocery story. Research recipes in the middle of the aisle on my iPhone while you irritate all the authentic stay-at-home-mom’s who have already memorized (or written down on actual paper) their recipes.
Clean last night’s dishes and start the easiest recipe I could find. In my slow cooker. Literally, I take three ingredients and put them in, and turn it on. I try not to feel bad that a monkey could have made my dinner tonight.
Take too much time cleaning dishes and starting dinner that I don’t get to shower. Wonder how that was possible. Go to next two appointments smelling like yoga sweat underneath dry shampoo, deodorant and perfume and wonder if all the smells clash.
Meet with therapist to talk about my feelings (mostly of guilt about being a terrible mother and not getting anything done.)
Meet a friend for lunch and discuss my upcoming nutritional cleanse. (Nutruitional cleanse is really just code for how I am going to attempt and lose the 14 lbs that I've gained over the summer not working out and eating abandoned chicken nuggets every day)
Show up 10 minutes late to pick up my kids. They are no longer particularly loving after standing in the sun for 10 minutes. Feel more guilty.
Run around school looking for the extra kids I promised to pick up. Take everyone to my house. Thank God I remembered to pick up the extra kids I promised to pick up, this time. Yes, this time.
Play taxi driver for 4 kids that have 4 different destinations.
Start cooking dinner. (I mean, take the lid off the pot)
Pour a glass of wine.
Get irritated that the first time I have dinner ready on time, no one is there to eat it.
Realize this is a beautiful moment of quiet, and I should be enjoying it.
Realize that I could be doing something productive. Continue to space out for another 15 minutes.
Find family. Wrangle them into the same room, negotiate clean hands, and wrestle them into their seats, all whilst listening to stories about aliens sucking brains, and who the best soccer goalie is.
Pour a second glass of wine.
Go into near coma because of approaching menstrual apocalypse.
Guilt husband into cleaning kitchen and putting kids to bed while I nap, hidden lying across the chairs in the kitchen, under the table.
Wake up with the realization that impending apocalypse has arrived.
Drink coffee in bed in hopes that apocalyptic tranquilizer dart wears off.
Drink more coffee. Order kids to self prepare.
Drink more coffee while kids are still running around playing with the pets, in pajamas. The kids are in pajamas. Not the pets. At least I don’t think the pets are in pajamas, but knowing my daughter, that is totally a possibility. Quietly hope that pets are not in pajamas.
Put on slippers with pajamas as perfectly appropriate attire to deliver kids to school. Hope kids don't understand the concept of hypocrisy at this age.
Heat a can of goo (Annie’s organic goo) for kids snack, cut some strawberries while kids eat self prepared bowls of Cheerios. Kids are still in pajamas. Note that, thankfully, pets are not.
Freak out and tell kids they need clothes and socks. Kids go upstairs, get “dressed” in dirty cloths they wore last week, but explain its only because those particular clothes are their favorite and you haven’t done laundry. They don’t have socks. Or shoes.
Make mental note to do laundry. Make another mental note to teach kids also how to do laundry.
Tell kids to grabs lunch bags with goo, shoes, socks, and get into van.
Drop kids off 1 minute before the bell. Tell them to run fast.
Go back home. Eat breakfast. Drink more coffee. Congratulate myself for planning a hike.
Go on hike. Obsess about all the time I'm losing to be productive while on hike.
Come home, answer email. Fill out some forms about my child’s year last year and my hopes for this year. Wonder if smiley face emoticons are acceptable answers.
Take shower. Shave legs. Use soap. Condition. Wish to myself that didn’t have to shave my legs every 12 hours for them to feel like they are shaved. Consider starting a “GoFundMe” account for Laser Removal.
Get out of shower. Properly moisturize for the first time in 3 months.
Decide to get dressed in something other than pajamas or workout gear.
Wonder to myself why it took me so long to find something to wear other than pajamas or workout gear.
Blow dry hair.
While blow drying my hair, make a mental list of everything I NEED to get done today.
Forget the list I just made and spend the next hour learning how to apply Lena Dunham styled heavy blue eyeshadow.
Look a the clock, realize I have wasted an hour (totally worth it) and head out of the house to start my first errand.
Head straight to pick up kids from school because I wasted all my time playing with blue eyeshadow.
Do errands with kids in the car. Complaining. Wonder to myself why I didn’t do the errands when I didn’t have anyone in the car. Complaining. Catch a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror, get distracted by the amount of blue eyeshadow I have on and make a mental note to skip make-up completely tomorrow. Also, remember why I didn't do errands when the kids were at school.
Deliver first kid late to soccer practice because I underestimated the time it would take to run errands.
Run one last errand while first kid is at soccer and second kid in car crying about how much he “dislikes” doing errands with me. Remind him how much I love him. Smile. Turn up the radio.
Instead of running the very, very, very last errand (grocery store for dinner), call the husband and tell him we're meeting him at the Pizza/wine bar down the street.
Congratulate myself on my planning and decision making skills for dinner.
Go home and tell my 7 year old he can watch 30 minutes of TV while I “meditate” with my eye mask on. Try not to tell myself I'm a loser for letting my kid watch TV while I lay down in the middle of the day.
Go to dinner. Thank God there is place that serves delicious healthy salads, artisans pizzas (that both my kids and husband will eat), and also serves Sauvignon Blanc. Mentally give myself a high five.
Write stream of consciousness blog entry under the guise of “working” while the husband puts my kids in bed.
Thank God. Literally.
Go to bed.
By the time day five rolls around, I have to admit, I'm starting to see a pattern.
Call it an epiphany.
I finally realized that my lack of productivity isn't actually my kid's fault. If I was being honest with myself (which I'd like to think I am) there might be a teensy bit more to blame then summer vacations, time out lock downs and grumpy afternoons. How's that for self reflection? (it helps to log your time for a bit....)
I quietly meditate a gentle good bye to any hope of every being truly “productive.” I slowly erase the list on my chalkboard of things I MUST get done today. I walk past the 4 piles of dirty laundry in the hall and sink heavily into the cozy chair in my living room. And you know what I do now? I open a smutty romance novel, and give myself the day off.
I've decided its time I embrace the thought that the universe has officially conspired to remind me: you can continue to run in place, getting nowhere OR you can take a break, get some perspective, and read a poorly written account of crazy never ending twenty something sex and romance that teaches you no life lessons and you will forget about the minute you close the pages.
No one is really going to care, ultimately. And, according to Marthe Troly-Curtain, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
*The contents in this log are a complete work of fiction and not to be construed as any real event or day of events. Or days of events. Its a total coincidence that I was wearing blue eye shadow last week. Girl Scouts honor.