Friday, January 19, 2007

Five Things I Did Yesterday

I’m busier now, in a wider variety of ways, than I ever was when I had a paying job. Most folks don’t really believe that housewives and stay-at-home moms are all that busy. I think they have, as I did, an idealized view of how smoothly things run around the house, with errands, and with kids. It’s been my experience that people who haven’t been SAHMS think we have all the free time in the world for leisure activities (or for things THEY want us to do). I don’t know why we set ourselves up with unrealities to envy, but I think it’s pretty common. Anyway,

1. Physical Therapy: I’ve gone into detail already about this earlier this week, so there’s not much to add, other than the recuperation time is down to about 45 minutes afterwards, and then I can go do other stuff. Which I did, including an early lunch date with my spouse, a weekly thing we do instead of dinner out. I’d prefer dinner out, but then he gets all squinty and unpleasant about the expense, so we compromised.

2. Tutoring/Counseling: Straight from lunch, I tutor at the middle school. I’ve had one student in particular for over a year now. Yesterday after discussing and doing superlatives and comparatives, then mathematical functions with fractions, the student opened up to me about problems in the home. We talked quite a bit, the student seemed relieved and more relaxed, and I recommended talking to the teachers and the social worker, in confidentiality if necessary, and perhaps coming in and staying late to be able to study more effectively. I then followed up by cluing the social worker in, insisting on confidentiality, and toddled home to meet my own kids as they returned from school. They decompress at me, which I also consider bonding/mom time, and then I get an hour with my daughter, watching Dr. Phil before more stuff happens.

3. Knitting Group: I handed off parenting to my husband when he got home, and headed off for my once/week knitting group, noticed I had no gas, and filled the tank on the way there. It was a lively group, with 6 people, two of whom are newbies and needed instruction and reassurance, swapped numbers with another new member (but not new knitter).

4. Making Dinner: Thursdays are supposed to be “eat leftovers” nights, since I’m off at knitting during the usual dinner hour. I can usually count on the hubby to feed himself leftovers, and the kids are capable of it, but sometimes they forget, don’t want to, or get focused on their games and time slides by without them eating. Last night was such a night. I could only talk two of them into leftovers, so I heated those up, cooked burgers for my daughter and myself, and added leftover warmed up veg.

5. Tutoring, again: Got a phone call from a newbie knitter from earlier at knitting group, who needed to talk about needle size and gauge swatching, handled that, then while eating dinner, helped my youngest with his polynomials and word problems, then showed my daughter the ways of writing a compare/contrast essay on The Great Gatsby vs. a movie of same, and helped her with her outline, including looking up all the right terms (since kids can never find last year’s handy reference papers, and I can never remember the stuff) for a proper, detailed literary analysis. We discussed themes, methods of choosing what to include (need evidence!) and proper argument techniques.

Which left me with 15 minutes to spend with hubs before Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, which we all watch, hubs headed off to bed, and I chased around after the kids, getting them to bed, too. It was a pretty good day, all told, no appliances quit or spewed anything, no one got in fights or cried, my back is feeling better every day, the pets are healthy, all the homework got done with little or no stress, I got to do something for myself that was fun, and I got a decent night’s sleep.

I think about how much more physically demanding it was when the kids were small. All that running around and worrying about them whacking each other with Tonka trucks or sticking things in electrical sockets (because eventually they DO figure out how to bypass the safety measures) was exhausting. And it was intellectually stultifying, too, small words, careful consideration of what’s appropriate discussion around small kids and their very big ears. They get sick less often now, which means I get sick less often, too.

This is easier physically, but more demanding intellectually and emotionally. It never dawned on me, when I was holding their tiny, newborn little bodies, that I would someday be trying to dredge up decades old experience with quadratic equations and English papers and hints on cellular respiration or saponification, but that’s just as much of parenting as changing a diaper or cubing cheese or turning Barney off and going to the park.

I suppose I can paraphrase JFK here and say, “Ask not what your SAHM can do for you, but what you can do for your SAHM.” And, in case you’re wondering, cleaning the living room would be a great idea!

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