Monday, June 08, 2009

Yes, I Realize There's a Lot of Summer Ahead


Julia's only been out of preschool for just under three weeks, but I am loving summer so far this year. It's amazing how much more time I have in each day, in the absence of the morning get-ready-for-school routine and the preschool drop-offs and pick-ups. Most days we wake up around 7, eat a leisurely breakfast, and then after Christopher leaves for work the girls and I sit amiably side by side at the table in our jammies, them playing "Activity Lottery," me drinking coffee and surfing the Internet, catching up on news and e-mail and mommy-blogs. Eventually we'll make our way upstairs to brush teeth, wash faces, and get dressed, but usually not until a time at which we'd have been leaving for school during our pre-summer life. The girls play elaborate pretend games--cooking for teddy bears, fairy-tale-princess scenarios--while I pull myself together, throw in some laundry, do the breakfast dishes. Later on, they watch a little PBS Kids while I do the rest of my household chores; they have a little snack and we decide what to do for fun that day: picnic? park? bike ride? play in the patio sand table? water the flowers? hopscotch? and off we go. The days are easy, unscheduled, and relaxed. I cook in the afternoons while they nap, wiped out from hard outdoor play. I'm not in a hurry; I have enough time.

But it's not just preschool being out. I'm done volunteering for the nursery school, so that chunk of monthly busy-hours is gone. I cut out some of my regular blog reads, because, while interesting and entertaining, they sucked away my valuable time. I've recently cut down on my running; initially motivated by fatigue and over-training, I discovered I kind of liked the extra time in my week that came from reducing my mileage. (Not sure if that's a permanent change, however. I love my long runs, even if my almost-forty joints do not.)

After having one essay accepted for fall publication in an upcoming Seal Press book and another under consideration for a second anthology, I've tabled all other for-submission writing for awhile; I'm not frantically trying to churn out writing and find places to sell it, which takes up a LOT of time. With an ongoing freelance gig as a columnist for a commercial website under my belt, I'm no longer spending hours each week trolling the freelance-writing job listings for leads. With a potty-trained toddler, I'm not spending any time changing diapers. Nor am I sitting for hours by her bed at nighttime anymore (the sleep-training has not been foolproof, but she's a lot better than she used to be).

In other words, I feel, in the best possible way, like I've suddenly got a lot of time on my hands--which, in reality, is pretty funny--because any busy mom of multiple small children will tell you that "a lot of time" is a very relative concept. When you're home full-time with two children under six and amidst the parenting and playing you're also cooking from scratch and keeping the house clean and managing the family schedule and exercising regularly and writing part-time and doing a bit of private-practice consulting and trying to organize an idea for a book--and when your spouse is working one full-time job, one part-time job, and one freelance-consulting job, and is also volunteering and occasionally traveling for work, well..."a lot of time" might mean, like, enough time to both take a bath AND paint one's toenails in the same evening.

But it's an improvement, people, it really is. As much as I miss the summer I had babies who were just-turned-three and not-quite-one--those days free from tantrums and sleep-training, those days of stroller walks and the easy transport of a baby on one's hip--I know deep in my mama heart that the only way a mother crosses that threshold into a bit more time on her hands is for those babes to get a little older, a bit more independent, able to pull up their own pants and put on their own sandals. It also doesn't hurt to just say no to volunteering.

And so I'm ready to enjoy every free-and-easy moment of this current summer. (Even the moments--sure to come--that aren't so free-and-easy.)

1 comment:

donna said...

Ahhh. I found a little peace just reading that.