Friday, August 23, 2013

Beers in the Teacups

Bless me, reader, for I have sinned: it’s been seven (SEVEN!) months since my last confession, lazy blogger that I am…but more on why later.
I officially became a new woman this year: not only did I enter a new decade, but perhaps even more significantly is that all my kids are – finally – at big school. That moment that I long awaited: on those dark days, I used to envision myself counting down on a Giant Calendar, like they show men doing in prison movies who are anticipating a parole date. My baby was finally heading off into the great, wide educational world. A whole new life that doesn't include you. Another cord has been cut.

As anyone who has been in that position knows, it can be met with a variety of mixed emotions: apprehension, excitement, relief, a tinge of sadness even. Our school hosts a ‘Tears in the Teacups’ morning for parents of kindergarten children, which I aptly renamed ‘Beers in the Teacups’. For me, it was mostly a celebration: I felt like it was as much my milestone as it was my five-year old’s. Most importantly, I knew he was well and truly READY. And, secondly, I had made it! I had survived my tenure as at SAHM, keeping everyone alive, clean-ish, fed and mostly dressed (myself included) without turning into a Stepford Wife. Although let the record note that the odd glass of cab sav never went astray during this era.

Remember when your kids were little and grandmotherly people would say, ‘These are the best years of your life! Enjoy them!’ You’d get that cock-eyed look that dogs do when they hear a high-pitched whistle, and have a sudden urge towards hara kiri: cold cups of coffee and play-dough sessions that take longer to clean up than your kids spent playing with it? And this is the best it gets? Cue tears (mine).

Then, you begin to encounter the people with school-age children. Sadistic buzz-kills, they were, who would smugly warn and say, ‘Oh! You think you’re busy now, just wait till they start school!’ Pffft, you’d think. This, from a woman whose children clearly wipe their own bums. How could I possibly get any busier, when at the moment, I can’t even manage a private moment to myself just to pee?

So on my fantasy would go: when they’re all at school, not only will I drink a coffee without cold milk clots forming a Pangea-shaped scummy layer on top BUT I will also have time to workout and achieve my Michelle Obama arms! Finish my novel! Save the endangered gray-handed night monkey! Clearly at some point during my tenure as a SAHM, I had swallowed the ‘When they’re all at school…’ Kool-Aid. Greedily. Like Don Draper with a Manhattan.

But now, six months in to my new phase of life – and no bicep improvement or completed manuscript to speak of – I realise that I may need to summons Mr Rouke and Tatoo to make some of those things come true. So I am just going to say it, like the buzz-killing, smug, all-at-school parent that I now am: I feel busier than ever. But let me explain.

Those ‘free’ hours between 9am and 3pm have given me time to ponder some of life’s great mysteries (including, ‘How does the earth manage to spin on its axis at double-time between the hours of 9am-3pm?’), as well as the luxury of having a private pee. But there is a trade-off (always is with parenting) for the days being filled with a relative peace: now, those after school hours from 3pm-9pm have taken on a frenzied pace that seems to require the mental energy, logistical planning and physical stamina that was at one time was only required for frantic Christmas eve present shopping. It’s a flurry of snacks, homework, sports, activities, cooking dinners, bathing rituals, heated ‘discussions’…and on and on it goes. In the good-old-days of being a SAHM, I at least knew that as demanding or uncooperative (or downright feral) as the kids may have been during the day, come 7:00, I was on the home stretch. And because they couldn’t yet tell the time, you could pull off the odd sixer for bedtime. Now some nights we’re just sitting down for dinner at the former bedtime, in complete violation of the toddler-preschooler timetable that seemingly dictates your life for soooo long. Only now am I beginning to realise how relatively short that time truly was.

And since I’m already beginning to get sentimental about something that ended five minutes ago, that brings me to my aforementioned confession: this is my final blog for Three Under 3.

Now excuse me while I go finish my coffee. While it’s still hot…Imagine!

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Year's Resolutions I Can Live With

Two weeks into the New Year is usually when - personally speaking - my resolutions start to go pear-shaped. Shame, because that’s considered the halfway point of habit forming: some research indicates that it take 30 days to form a new habit (although that time might be much shorter for, say, heroin addicts).

I’ve given up reading January magazines: I can ‘just ten minutes a day’ myself into a whole day’s worth of self-improvement activities. I'm happy to report that Oprah’s advice on decluttering my closets, applying smoky eye shadow, five-day detoxing and walking my way to a J-Lo arse will forever remain a mystery to me.

This year, I’m lowering my expectations and picking what I know will work. But in the spirit of the new year, here is a look at all possibilities: the Will-Never-Do list; the Should-Do-But-Won’t list; and the Will-Do list.

Resolutions you will never see me having, or the Will Never Do list:
1. Read the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy – Don’t worry, I haven’t converted to Mormonism in a wave of Romney Fever. And this choice has nothing whatsoever to do with the sauciness factor. It’s because this woman not only ripped off someone else’s plot, but even the characters(!), and has made an absolute fortune. And I'll freely admit, I’m a bit bitter about that. Even the author’s pseudonym, ‘E.L. James’ is another version of P.D. James, the British mystery writer. Another score of zero for originality there. I guess initials look great on a dustjacket.

2. Give up sugar in my coffee – why is everyone so down on sugar in coffee? I don’t get it. I’m sticking with it, and to compensate for that, I’ll just blow my nose an extra two times each day to work off those whopping 22 calories and enjoy my coffee in peace.

3. Alcohol – Although this quote is frequently attributed to Homer Simpson and beer, it was actually Benjamin Franklin who said that wine ‘is a constant proof that God loves us, and wants us to see us happy.’ Nice to see that in between inventing bifocals and the odometer, he had time to ponder and enjoy life’s little pleasures. Well said, Benny-Boy. I like that whole ‘why French women don’t get fat’ approach, which back in the olden days, used to be called everything in moderation.

Should Do But Won’t:
1. Meditation – wouldn’t we all love to go Eat, Pray, Love style? But that woman has no kids. If I could claim 10-30 uninterrupted minutes to myself each day, I wouldn’t spend it chanting, I can tell you that much.

2. Give up my obsession with Hugh Jackman – Drover. Academy Awards Host. Wolverine. That guy from Le Miserables. Is there anything this man can’t do?

3. Continue my quest for Michelle Obama arms – unless I have someone willing to go all Gordon-Ramsey-bootcamp on me, screaming in my face bedside at 6 a.m., this is not gonna happen. I’ve accepted my inconsistency.

4. Read thought-provoking, Pulitzer-prize winning literature – like that of any modern gal, my life contains enough complicating events, decision making and frustrations. Therefore, I don’t want to read about characters’ emotional suffering, moral dilemmas or epic tragedies. Reading is for brain candy, not for intellectual stimulation. Now I’ve said it out loud.

5. Facebook detox – an unparalleled time-sucker and designed with procrastinators like me in mind, I should just stay away. But won’t.

While not wanting to set myself up for failure, this is my proposed Will Do list for 2013:
1. Floss – simple and important, but I don’t do it enough, and I don’t want cavemen teeth. Maybe someday I’ll spring for a tooth-whitening to compensate for my coffee and merlot, but for now, I can afford the $1.99 for floss.

2. Give my children additional, age-appropriate responsibilities – besides love, stability, education, etc, the three best gifts you can give your children are a happy marriage, trust in their own decision-making ability, and self-sufficiency. This is another step towards that last one, even when it’s sooo much easier to just do the little jobs for them. (This one also relates closely to #5)

3. No more ironing - admittedly, I’ve been doing this one for years, but putting it on a list makes me feel better.

4. Purge the bra and undies drawer - what, what, what is in there? I can barely get the drawer closed, and yet…I wear the same standbys again and again. Anything threadbare, tattered, ripped, wedgie-inducing (that includes YOU thongs/g-strings) or pre-Clinton administration is going, as are those bottoms classified as ‘period undies.’ Shapeware, you are safe, and will in fact, be worthy of your own drawer soon.

5. Reclaim some ‘me’ time – needs no further explanation.

So there you have it. Now, in the spirit of resolution #5, I’m pouring a coffee, drinking it while it’s still HOT, disappearing with my Kindle and not chanting…