Friday, February 8, 2013
Our "Simplified" Life
Brutal honesty: the kids in our household have taken a backseat to Mom and Dad for a lotta years. Let's modify that: Dad and the kids took a backseat to Mom, while she "president-ed" Junior Woman's Club and did a bunch of stuff for and with others who were not kin. And they were pretty accommodating about it, the kids in large part because they are, at their cores, kind of lazy, as all kids tend to be. Mom's not forcing us into a lot of activities, because they conflict with her schedule? AWESOME! Dad was a bit more inconvenienced - but he played the role of good soldier, most of the time.
And then, around the time that my tenure as immediate past president was ending, Dad announced:
"I'm going to start playing tennis on Thursdays."
Thursdays had always been Mom days. Junior Woman's Club Board of Directors met on Thursdays, and so did Junior League. I'm still not quite sure if Spouse's Thursday-centric assertion of dibs was a passive-aggressive means of saying, "Your reign of terror is over" or if he simply wanted to play on Thursdays because Thursdays is beer league. All I know is, Spouse now has Thursdays. I have Tuesdays, twice a month. And believe you me, two Tuesdays a month is a far cry from the four-night-per-week schedule that I was running a few years ago.
I thought that I would miss all of the activity, but truth be told I was due for some homebody time, particularly after being deprived of my actual home for the better part of the year. While we were fighting our battle to preserve and reclaim the McGlinchey homestead, I grew to appreciate the simplicity of coming home and hanging out with my family - even if "home" wasn't really home. Time with Spouse and the kids was restorative. And, now that the house is new-and-improved, I actually enjoy being there more often than not. (Having financed a major "kitchen-and-other" remodel on the fly, I am also far more aware of the economic impact of girls' night out: even at happy hour prices, those two vodka well drinks translate into two kitchen cabinet knobs, and did I mention that two of our kitchen cabinet knobs adorn a quite spacious, and fully-stocked, liquor cabinet? Fortunately, I have had little trouble convincing my running buddies of the benefits of girls' night in. Particularly when I am "buying.")
So, for awhile there, I was coming straight home from work most nights, and cooking a square meal, and things were simple. And then, right around the time that Spouse started playing on the traveling tennis squad for our club, I decided that the kids had been denied the opportunity to do certain extracurriculars, because Mom's schedule didn't allow them, and it was high-time to rectify that.
Specifically, I concluded that we needed to transition into year-round swimming.
If you are a parent, then you may recognize that "year-round swimming" occupies the same parental commitment space as competitive gymnastics, figure-skating and really hardcore Little League. But, hey - the kids had expressed a distinct, and mutual, preference for swimming over other sports, and also for diving, and I'm a big fan of lifelong athletic pursuits that one can continue into adulthood, for exercise and/or recreation. (I have no illusions that either of my children has a future as a professional shotputter, but if they keep swimming they just might decide to tackle an Ironman one day, which would be kind of cool, and, worst-case, a well-executed inward dive at the company pool party might buy them some street cred.)
No sooner had we committed, theoretically, to signing up with a particular swim program in town than that program offered a Groupon that was too good to pass up. On the same day, another Groupon popped into our inboxes, offering eight weeks of tumbling for two kids for a very reasonable price. Hey, didn't the boys say that they wanted to take some tumbling classes for the purpose of developing diving skills? Done and done. We bought both Groupons, intending to knock out two months of gymnastics, followed by swimming.
The thing is, we're US, and old habits die hard, and long story short we didn't pull the trigger on either Groupon until a week prior to expiration. And, as luck would have it, both Groupons needed to be used right away.
Right around that time, Big Kid's Whiz Quiz team made the finals, and, while I was waiting for the final match to start, and thanking God in my head that one after-school activity was coming to an end, one of Big Kid's teachers turned around in her seat and said, "Oh, now that Whiz Quiz is over, we can start getting ready for UIL. We've recruited your son for science and social studies."
Oh, did I mention that track and field season starts next week?
So, our "simplified life" is morphing into something like this:
AM: Someone drives Big Kid to school at oh-dark-thirty (it's a magnet, so it's across town - bus is available, but not for early AM athletics), while the other someone gets Little Kid dressed and out the door.
PM: Big Kid has swimming at dinner time. Mom drives, except for the one week a month that she has a Junior League commitment.
PM: Dad drives Little Kid to swimming. Then someone drives Big Kid to swimming, because the boys' respective practice times are an hour and fifteen minutes apart (and Big Kid's bus splits the difference). Mom is on the case on odd Tuesdays, and Dad covers even Tuesdays while Mom is at Woman's Club.
PM: Little Kid has Student Council. Big Kid has UIL practice, which means that he misses the bus, which means someone has to retrieve him from his campus WAAAAAY over there, and then drive him to swim WAAAAAY over THERE.
PM: Swimming for Little Kid. Tumbling for both. Dad leaves for tennis at some point in between. Mom has the proverbial football for the duration.
One night a week, nothing happens. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Pure bliss.
Saturday AM: Dad has tennis, again. And, apparently, Big Kid is going to have UIL practice. Really?
Sunday AM: Mom and Dad get out of church twenty minutes before Sunday School and Youth get out. Going forward, I think that this time slot may be utilized for sleeping standing up.
Sunday afternoon: Big Kid has to be driven to church a second time, to play basketball in a church league. And, sometimes, Dad has a makeup tennis match.
Sunday PM: Would you believe that Big Kid goes to church again?
Meanwhile, Little Kid has inquired as to why he isn't playing soccer this spring. Seriously? Mom is on record that she is already weary of driving people to athletic events, because the irony is not lost on her that everyone else is getting in better shape while she is getting flabbier. She has expressed a desire to take a page from her children and start swimming on a regular basis, with a goal of joining a Masters program at some point in the future. Which will mean logging hours in the pool - at the same time, probably, that someone has to be driven somewhere. That's okay. I SHALL OVERCOME, one way or the other.
Photo at top is of the giant mug of oatmeal that Spouse shoved in my hand one eveing as we were passing like two proverbial nocturnal watercraft. "Here, eat this on your way to the natatorium." It was oddly touching. And quite delicious, once I got the hang of juggling the mug, spoon, a cell phone, my purse and a gear bag.
I have resigned myself to the fact that our lives will always be, more than a little bit, crazy. The nature of the craziness just seems to evolve over time.