Friday, September 7, 2012

My Life in a Nutshell: When School Changes EVERYTHING

I’m there… that place where things that were obstacles and hindrances are now opportunities. Let me explain…

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Way way back in 2009, when my oldest child started kindergarten, I had my hands FULL. I had 3 kids… ages 4, 3, and 2. Lots of small people who were needy needy needy and also quite a big mess to clean up after. Not that I was a good housekeeper then, so it wasn’t as painful to live in a messy house as it is now. Our days were unscheduled, and I was frightened of school and how on earth we would be able to go from no schedule to a half day, integrating naps and finding a way to still be creative (I had opened my Etsy shop in February 2008). My husband played piano at Mass, requiring me to care for all the little people during Mass alone. He also played hockey on Monday and Thursday late nights and coached hockey on Saturday mornings. Again, more kid watching/feeding/distracting/appeasing ALONE. It was very tough on me, and the cause of some amount of domestic discord over the element of personal freedom and the perceived fact that I had none. Poor me, I thought.

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September 2010 was easier as the kids got older and less needy, and school for the oldest was all day. I was pregnant with #4 and having a fair bit of free time to myself since #2 and #3 could play independently or together. #1 started going to Saturday hockey with my husband. The late night weekday hockey wasn’t so bad because no one was waking up and needing attention then, so I could spend that time as I pleased. The kids were old enough for Liturgy of the Word during Mass, and that became much less of a trial. Baby was born in April, and we made it through the school year just fine. But then…

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Wham! 2011. It was a rough year. #1 kid was all day in school, and #2 was in half-day kindergarten. It was INSANE. So, I’d wake up, feed people, get #1 out the door, get #4 down for a nap, then it was lunch for #2-4, then walk #2 to school, then get #4 down for another nap, then go get #1 and #2 with #3 and #4, then police the homework and feed snacks, then make dinner, then extracurriculars, then baths/bed and then… burnout. Big time. We were also terribly unhealthy, and being sick with sick kids does not a happy mommy make. Hockey nights were harder because there was no guarantee of free time, and I feel that the school year just couldn’t end soon enough. It was awful, and I do not wish to repeat it.

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Now, here we are starting school in 2012. Those same kids are 7,6 and 5. Plus we have the new guy… 17 months old now and BT (“big trouble”). But somehow, life has eased up. So much so that I can’t truly believe it yet. After the wake up and breakfast (which they can largely do on their own), the three big kids leave the house at 8:30 and don’t come home until 3:45 (kindergarten changed to full day in our district). I don’t even have to walk them there or back. That is 7+ hours of being down to 1 kid, and he naps for 2-3 hours of that time. All of a sudden I am not constantly interrupted (my house is very clean! my meal and grocery planning and paperwork are not so hard to accomplish!). And during nap time, I have decided that I am not permitted to do housework. I can do personal projects (yesterday I sewed a whole skirt! properly!), or house projects (there is much to be done), or I can spend it creating items for my Etsy shops, or promoting them. At Saturday hockey, all three big kids will go with my husband, and for weeknight hockey, I will have more time to do as I please since everyone is sleeping at night again. I am trying not to tackle too much at once just because I can, but I have NEVER had this sort of time before in my life with children (8 years next week), and it’s hard not to get ambitious. Should I wash the windows and scrub the screens? Why not? I’m used to eeking the most productivity out of every moment because there were so few, but now… today is only really day 3 of this newfound time and I have accomplished more than I did all summer. It’s true! I have arrived.

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This is not to say that things will never be difficult again, but now, I have helpers. They have the skills and motivation to do some of the housework. They don’t need as much help. They don’t require constant supervision. The little guy is trouble but when there’s only one to mind and no one else besieging you with constant questions, it’s OK. In fact, he’s still sleeping now. I’ve written this entire blog post without hearing a single noise except the dishwasher and the tapping of keys on the keyboard. I feel like I can truly appreciate where I am, but only because I haven’t always been here. Even when it changes again, I will be proud to know that all along I’ve been doing my best…  and I am still here… and I am still me…

3 comments:

Reenie said...

Well said!! And hurray for some room to be productive!! So incredibly happy for you. :)

Erin M. said...

Karen- Glad that you're finding yourself still there after all the hard work of getting those kids old enough to be at school or playing on their own. Thanks for keeping up with your blogging this last month, I enjoy hearing what you're up to.

Karen DeSmet said...

Karen, you are a wise woman. I loved how you said,"even when it changes again..." the end of the blog. You offer so much to this world. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you are you.

And the photos of the kids are fantastic. BT's little butt in his plaid coveralls is toooo precious.