So today marks the return to life from Christmas vacation. I am not a happy camper.
I hear other mothers practically chanting and cheering as their children head back to school. Not me. I’m just not ready.
But I know that I would never be ready. I’m one of those crazy mothers who love her children being home. I like having no where special to be. I am a home body. My husband is a home body. Funny thing is that my kids actually are too. You wouldn’t know this about us based on our lifestyles. We are constantly running from activity to activity and event to event but it is the truth.
My husband has worked from home for nearly 15 years now. He has always had a day or two that he would go on customer meetings but for the most part, he has been at home in our basement in his office. I have never had one of those situations that a husband gets up early goes to work and returns late each evening. My husband is home most days. It is something that our family has been accustomed to and organized our lives as such. My kids don’t say goodbye to Dad in the morning or run to him as he enters the door at dinner time – they see him all day long.
Due to the fact that he has been home and that I homeschool our kids, we have been able to take on other things that we would never have done. My husband has coached on the local junior league wrestling team for 8 years and for the past 4 years, been head coach and commissioner. He runs the whole kit and caboodle. But he could – his job allowed him to. His job has also allowed me to work in the evenings. So about 5 years ago, I returned to teaching ballet several evenings a week. But it was okay, the boys were with my husband in the evenings and my daughter with me.
The best years were when all four children were homeschooled. When we were on our own schedules and didn’t have anywhere to be that we didn’t choose. Yes we could school in our pajamas, starting at 9 am after breakfast together. We vacationed off season and were spoiled by cheaper rates and no crowds. We called all of the shots all of the time. I had a family of 6 home together every day – ALL day. Some people probably cringe at that thought. But for us, it was great. My kids were each other’s best friends and we were all for one – one for all.
But things change.
The oldest two went to school. I had always planned to send them to high school so when my oldest was in 8th grade – I sent him to the public middle school to make sure he acclimated before high school. He was unhappy about the decision and didn’t think it was fair; he wasn’t ready to go back to school. So I sent his younger brother with him. He was in 6th grade. I sent them as a pair thinking they would take care of each other. If I had known then, what I know now – I never would have sent them until they each were headed into their freshman year of high school. But that’s another story – another blog.
So we’ve spent the past 3 ½ years split. I have 2 at home continuing to homeschool and 2 that are both now in private high school. They are both now involved in sports teams and activities at the school. They are no longer just jumping in the truck with my husband in the evenings all headed to the same place together. They each have different practices and schedules requiring different pick up places and times each evening – while my husband still runs the junior league wrestling team toting only 12 year old Son #3 now.
Recently, his company was acquired by another company and he took a new job that requires a bit of travel and less flexibility than our family has been accustomed to for the past 15 years. He is probably travelling an average of a week a month – some months more, some months less. This has really thrown a wrench into life as we’ve known it. Having to go into single parent mode with his absence is a carefully balanced scale, most times having to enlist the help of my parents. I cut back on my hours teaching at the dance studio this year, because I knew my family would require more of my time with my husband no longer in a position of convenience. But I still have too much on my plate and should further trim my hours. In fact, if I was honest, I would only teach 2 classes maximum and divert all of my attention back to the family. But mid-year that is a hard change to make.
The past two weeks of vacation were a beautiful reminder of those days when I had everyone home and life was fabulous. My kids all get along. There are very few issues. They share common interests and have always entertained each other thoroughly. During this vacation, they have skated together, played darts, sung Karaoke, watched movies, played piano, jumped on the trampoline, played video games and even cooked and baked together. Not having to get up at the crack of dawn to be in the car by 7:15am for school, not rushing from place to place each evening or mapping out all of the pick-up and drop offs is a huge stress relief. Now we did still have wrestling practices daily, a wrestling tournament, a wrestling match and a couple of dance rehearsals but in comparison to our normal lives – it was manageable - mostly because I wasn’t working at night or teaching during the day. I was just Mom.
So I have been feeling weepy. I am not ready. I am not ready to return to the mercy of our schedules. I am not ready to teach 5th and 7th grades all day. I am not ready to return to evening dance classes and start preparing for recital dances. I am not ready to start the drive back and forth across town to pick up and drop off my teens. I am not ready to prepare for wrestling matches and dance performances.
It doesn’t help that my husband is out of town this week. That’s right- in addition to returning to all of it – I return to it all alone. So this morning is met with saying goodbye to my husband while he travels across the country. It is also time to coordinate carpools to get all of my kids where they need to be tonight and dinner prepared at 2 in the afternoon since I work tonight and will be gone from 4 until almost 9. It is making sure that I have all of the homeschooling wrapped up by 1:30 so that I can fix dinner and pick up Son #1 from school at 3 and be able to dress and get to the dance studio on time.
I looked at our calendar for the next three months and EVERY single weekend is filled to the brim. I know there is no end in sight. It is a new year and I still feel overwhelmed. There is no time to make resolutions or any changes. Time marches on.
The next weekends will be the weekends from hell. Son #2 has a 2 day wrestling tourney. Husband and Son #3 have 2 tri matches both Saturday and Sunday. The following weekend will take my daughter and me to Philadelphia for dance and my husband and sons will host a wrestling tournament monopolizing another block of time. So the best I can do is to live life two hours at a time. If I think about the truth of my life and what is constantly waiting for me week to week – I feel like I will have a stroke.
So while others rejoice with the start of school and the end of Christmas vacation – I will mourn the loss of quiet family time, togetherness and just being a Mom.