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!