November is starting to grow on me. It's been so incredibly warm (and even sunny for the first whole week and more), and I spent another weekend away...this time with no kids visiting three of the most amazing, beautiful women in the world and one sweet boyfriend (no, not mine, my friend's...who cooked us some awesome meals) in lovely Waterbury, Connecticut.
Thanks for all the thoughtful and smart comments on last week's post about homework and kids progressing at different rates. I'm really not at all worried about E and Z's reading...it's just that Self-Doubt is the uninvited guest who shows up to every party. And homework...grr. I do wish we had a no-homework policy before grade three (as does Sara's school system). I really don't think teachers get the reality that most families either have two working parents or are headed by a single parent who works. There are not hours of idle time that need to be filled up with inane worksheets. In our house, we get home anywhere between 4:30 and 6:00 (depending on whether I get to work at 7:00 or a lot later and how many errands I have to run afterward). That leaves just enough time to cook dinner, eat dinner, get ready for bed and read one chapter or one story before 8:00. And that's on nights with no soccer practice, baseball game, guitar lesson or swimming lesson. The ten-year-old can do most of his homework independently while I cook (sometimes he asks me a question about math which I usually cannot answer), but the six-year-olds can't.
Anyhoo...enough about homework. Let's talk about November and all that means. Once, many years ago, I got it into my head to ride a nearly-feral horse bareback. I placed a five-gallon bucket upside down next to her and hoisted myself onto her back. She stood quite placidly, until I kicked her, at which she shot across the field like she had sprouted wings. I didn't even have time to clutch her mane, but went cartwheeling through the air, landing finally on my chin. I managed to sprain my ankle, bruise my thigh and hip and wrench my shoulder. I had to crawl a long way back to the house in this condition, and later told everyone I had twisted my ankle in a hole in the ground because I was so embarrassed.
That's how I feel right now, looking into the next few weeks and months, like I'm perched on the back of a horse in that split second before it tears off, leaving me crumpled in the dust.
We're traveling for Christmas, which we haven't done since before we had kids, and I've figured it out: we have five weekends before we leave. My first grad school residency starts January 5, leaving me one weekend to recover from and unpack from our trip (and no doubt celebrate Christmas with eighteen different factions of C's family) and ten days away from home. And then...who knows what. No time at all.
I'm trying to figure out a balance between doing the things I need to do and the things I would like to do and the things I just need to let go of over those five weekends. I just received the workshop packet for school--everyone else's stories which I need to read and comment on--and it's not as thick as I feared it would be, but I also got the list of required reading for the presentations during the residency and holy crap, I have no idea when I'll get to it all (so of course I'm here blogging instead of reading, oy!). I figured out I'll need to read a book about every five days for the next 10 weeks. In the meantime, I would like to do some Christmas making, but perhaps a bit toned down from years past. There will likely be no six-hour cookie baking sessions this year, but one or two batches of roll-out cookies would not be out of order. I really wanted to finish M's quilt for Christmas (that I started in earnest back in January!), but I don't see that happening. And if it doesn't happen now, it probably will never happen. Maybe I could assemble one quilt block and read one chapter/story every night? Plus there are lots of little things I want to do--ornaments and kid projects and such. And there are two rooms left in my total house reorganization. Plus I would like to bring order to the basement.
I've lately read some posts on other moms' blogs about how they're stepping back from blogging and creating and making and doing to spend more time with their kids, just being. These are full-time at-home moms who are guaranteed to spend more time with their kids than I do by default. It makes me pause to wonder if perhaps I'm making a mistake adding one more (huge) thing to my life right now. Already our time together generally consists of me coaxing them to get ready, hurry up, come on, not now, maybe later, let's go, we're late...two years from now am I going to have an MFA in one hand and a great big bag of regret in the other? Hello, again, Self-Doubt, who let you in the door?