It’s only been a week since the kids started school… and I don’t know about them, but I’m tired. TIRED, actually, is more like it. No wonder many moms who do this make a full-time job out of it. And as for those who have full-time jobs as well, I think they have something in their genes that I just wasn’t born with.
All these days, we used to moan when the kids woke us up between 6.30 and 7.00. Now, I get to wake them up at 6.00. Is this fun for me? No! I don’t want to wake up at 6.00 either, unless it’s for tennis. And getting two sleepy kids to get out of bed, show some signs of life, and drink their milk is clearly not tennis. Not even close.
So we manage to somehow leave the house a little after 8.00 (and from next week, we’ll have to make that 7.30!). We reach their school around 8.40, which is just in time for class at 9.00. Well, it takes that much time to get their hair combed and clipped neatly (well, passably, at least), to get their shoes on, and to get them both to use the toilet. So at 9.00 I leave them to it and rush off – either home, or to waste time and run errands. Having done two hours of wasting time/driving/running errands, I’m back to pick them up at 11.00. By 12-ish we’re home, and I get them changed and get their lunch ready. By 1.30 or so, I can breathe… but not for long. I’m tired already, but I can’t stop now. This is supposed to be ‘my’ time – the time I get to get some of my own stuff done. Reading, writing, studying, or even a bit of work, if I happen to have some. So I grab my lunch and sit down in front of my computer and hardly even notice what I’m eating (which is just as well because usually it’s quite foul anyway). An hour or so later, just as I’m getting into the thick of things, one of the two bedroom doors creaks or groans open and there she is, all bright and smiling. She wants to talk, to sing, to play, to do mischief. But most of all, she wants me – whichever “she” it might be.
So I shut down the computer with half-formed thoughts in half-saved files and devote myself to the two devils and the next thing I know, it’s 8 p.m. The twins are in bed, the cook has come, cooked, and hopefully gone, and it’s time for me to eat dinner and watch some TV or read a book. Work? Violin? Exercise?
Naaaaaah… too tired, too hungry, can’t concentrate now.
Ok, I’m not entirely complaining. Parts of me want to go back to work, but mostly I’ve put that on hold for at least a year or so. Because, if I have to rush around like mad all day even without the work, how could I possibly fit that in? And some parts of what I’m doing now are – really – precious. Like, driving them to and from school and having to sing to them ALL the way – it’s tiring, it’s boring, it’s maddening, but… it’s good, too.
And like watching them for a few moments in school, when they can’t see me and they don’t know I’m there. Seeing the clips on their small heads bobbing around as they sit engrossed in some task or activity. Having them come running, smiling, to me and hug my legs when they see me. Amit hasn’t seen that yet, he hasn’t been there, so only I know what he’s missing. He’s globe-trotting, and making a great career for himself, but look what he’s missing.
There is some frustration in seeing time fly past and seeing how little I manage to achieve out of it. But, on the whole, I think the frustration of struggling to do justice to your work (and I’d want to do at least that, if not more, if I had a job) and seeing your kids’ growing-up years flashing past without being able to properly be a part of it, and probably the stress of just trying always to be in two places at the same time, physically or otherwise… I think those frustrations and the regrets that go with them would be much worse for me. I admire other moms who do this and retain their balance, but I don’t think I can be one of them right now. For me, the challenge is simpler – or at least smaller. How can I still be me? How can I keep some time and space for me? How can I avoid the other trap of being all mother and no person at all? How can I still be a person I’d find interesting to meet and talk to?
I feel like I’m already not that person any more.
Next week, their school timings will be extended to 8.30-12 noon, so that should give me a good chunk of morning hours to accomplish stuff. I also have to be more firm with myself about not doing errands ALL the TIME. I want to devote one morning a week to errands and spend the other mornings doing things that I really want to be doing. So maybe next week things will get better.
Or maybe things will never get better unless I decide to make them better.
Perhaps the first thing is not to give up wanting to be a person, not to slide into being just a mother. Sometimes, it’s so tiring that it’s easier to just let go of the other stuff.
Then again, maybe that’s the influenza speaking.