Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Day in the Life

Many of you reading this could surely give me a run for my money. You could handle my days with one arm tied behind your back, not in a straight jacket like the one I need. But I write this because over and over again people ask me things like, "Why don't you meet us at the beach?" and "How was your day?" and "Are you looking forward to..." and they don't know exactly what to make of my answers. I don't blame anyone, I just want to reframe things a bit with this perspective into my typical day in an atypical family with Rooster (4 1/2) and Peaches (2 1/2).  

Please: consider this a meme. I'm dying to read YOURS.  I advise you NOT to read mine. It is boring and pathetic, self-indulgent and stupid. 

On a "typical" Roostery, Peachy weekday, like the ones laying in wait for us now: 

2:30 I wake up for the first, second, or third time to a child who fell out of the bed/had a nightmare/threw up/has a cough/wet the bed/has issues.

3:15 I stare at the clock, kept awake by obsessively and depressively calculating how much (little) sleep I will end up getting at this rate, and my pity party begins. 

5:29 I wake up for the day to a child who is ready whether it's dark out or not to watch cartoons, wake a sibling, and hand over the daily list of demands. On lucky days, I squeeze in a shower, while the kids sit on the bath mat watching, commenting unfavorably. (LOOK at your TUMMY!) On unlucky days, I throw on whatever and barely manage brushing my teeth before I dive right in to the rituals: 
  • make sure I have one humongous-eater lunch and one gfcf (read: EXPENSIVE) lunch packed, along with daycare snacks (always red organic seedless grapes or the world will stop spinning)
  • make sure I have the backpacks with requisite supplies (pullups, wipes, changes of clothes, blanket, MORE SNACKS, etc.)
  • diaper and dress two unwilling participants who ought to be using a potty by now; then re-diaper them after they digest breakfast
  • feed two demanding eaters
  • eat my own breakfast, sharing bites with Peaches, who considers it tragic if I eat my own food alone
  • brush teeth of slippery eels by coercion 
  • put shoes on children no fewer than four times
Around 7:15, the arduous car loading (Where is my BATMAN? NO, I NEED SPIDERMAN!! GET HIM!), then commute begins. This is an exercise in juggling and magic. It is my job to distract, distract, distract. If I deejay just right with Beezus and Ramona on tape and Joe Scruggs songs, keep one finger on the wheel as I dole out MORE food, and anticipate arguments before they begin so I can head them off at the pass, maybe, just maybe, no one will bleed en route to....

8:00 School. Okay, use your imagination. The dropoff at school is too painful on typical days to write about unless you want me to sink into deep depression. And I work there so I'm not allowed to curse at my children in the process. In fact, I am expected to smile at least a little. Never do I feel less dignified. Oh, except at the end of the day. 

8:20-4:30 I spend working, but on lunch and other breaks on typical days I call insurance companies, therapists, doctors, and pharmacies. I occasionally look through the viewing windows into my kids' classrooms to see Peaches playing doll babies and Rooster knocking down another child's Magnatiles construction or being carried away from circle time in a tantrum. I wander the halls carefully hoping no one will stop me to tell me what issue my child had just this morning in class. If my phone rings and I see certain extensions are calling me, it is gong to be typically BAD DAY. Otherwise, I just enjoy working really hard. 

4:30 The Peaches is tired, the Rooster is overtired, and, while carrying two backpacks and lunch boxes, I sign them out and lure them away from their play with promises of popsicles at home should we ever make it there. As we leave, several small people try to stop me, wanting to tell me how the Rooster upset them during the day, but my hands are too full to pay adequate heed, and thus I am even less dignified then I was in the morning, hastily dashing off apologies, dragging my kids, begging for cooperation. It takes an average of 23 minutes to wrangle the tornadoes to the car. You could make the trip without them in about 3 minutes. En route, we pass at least one or two of my dear friends/colleagues, whose warm good night wishes to the kids earn snarls and yelps in reply from the Rooster, and hiding behind my legs from Peaches. 

By 5 we are in the car, and by 5:45 we get home, having stopped the car at least 3 times on our 9 mile journey while I threatened to put them on time out on the side of a freeway. The rooster is not entirely to blame for this. He used to be, but now that Peaches is two, she has some terribles to get out of her system. Either one, two, or three of us have tears and snot flying by the time we make it to our driveway, and the floor of my Saturn has a new layer of filth that soon will make for a creative foot rest for the short people. 

by 7ish, daddy is home. Before his arrival, I have fed the kids, emptied and repacked their lunches, tossed in a load of dirty clothes, emptied the dishes that he ran before work in the morning, handled mail and bills, and we are deep into an episode of Sesame Street on DVR. 
It is time for my own dinner. Cereal? PBJ? Or microwave some chicken teriyaki? I ponder the exercise bike taking up all the breathing room in our bedroom. I am weary. Daddy will have to fend for himself for food. First, though, he's going to pour himself a cocktail. 

By 7:30 my husband and I have done medicines, diapers, toothbrushing, humidifiers, book reading, melatonin, vitamins, and behavior management. We have toyed with the concept of baths and resigned ourselves that this will wait. We make plans to divvy up the rest of the week's therapies, phone calls, and extra chores. We briefly wonder when we will look at potential schools for next year, decide about vaccines, replace our broken down car, and see our faraway families. We vow that soon we will see our own doctors and take care of our own maladies. We add more papers on the piles. We argue a bit, make up, sigh heavily, and probably I will cry just a little. At least once I will say, "I miss my Grandma." At least 30 times the Rooster will have jumped from furniture. At least 10 times the Peaches will have tried to negotiate to stay up longer. The names they will have called each other range from the jargony made up ones (You're a DATCHER) to the gross (You POOTER), and their assault on one another will include poking, pushing, shoving, biting, spitting, grabbing, kicking, taunting, and screaming. We will tuck the children in with lullabies once or twice or thrice. They are, at last, lovely, beautiful darlings, and I kiss their foreheads repeatedly. Mmmmm, sweet foreheads. 

8:00 I will consider any number of useful activities I could do VERY QUIETLY (TV is OUT), and then end up playing a few quick rounds of WordTwist on Facebook before reading blogs and writing a post like this one (well, hopefully better than this one). I call this Therapy Time. It keeps me going. Really and truly, it is not optional. Once in a while this is a time to sneak in that shower, but on a truly typical day, my husband is soaking in the tub with the lights off nursing a headache, so I'll make do with a quick wash cloth and some extra Secret. 

9ish Make to do list with grand intent, with things like Send Birthday Card to Loved One, Change the Oil, Deposit Paycheck. Cram it in the overstuffed purse with the others. 

9:30ish If my eyes still hold themselves up, I will remember that I must do the right thing and close them, because 2:30 will be here soon, and I better be ready. 


Niksmom said...

Ugh. You just made me grateful that I am a homeschooling SAHM! I'm exhausted just reading about your day! Hugs, my friend. BIG hugs! xo

pixiemama said...

I have no idea where you found the energy to write this, but I'm glad you did. The things we go through on a daily basis might sound like nothing if they were as simple as "took the kids to school, went to work, got home, fed kids, put kids to bed, blogged." The real picture is much more exhausting. I might someday take you up on the challenge... but not this week!

Anonymous said...

Aw, babe. I should thank you for showing me that my life really isn't as bad as I make it sound, but I think that might be mean. I'm sorry. :(

This part: "We vow that soon we will see our own doctors and take care of our own maladies. "

I have this issue myself. Hubby is always on my case to talk to my doc about this ailment and that neurosis, but he doesn't get it that I don't have a "lunch break" like he does - a time in my day when I can schedule a doc's appt, etc...

It's tough. You have it waaaay tougher than any one person should have it. I'm sorry. :(

Anonymous said...

oops! i hit publish too soon. that previous post is me!

Petra said...

Hi there:

You have my empathy, you really, really do. Your meme pretty much describes how things used to go here, from the time Salamander was 3 until he was about 8.5 years old (at that age I changed several of Salamander's therapies and we finally headed into better times; he is 10.5 years old now, and while we still have nights/days like you descibed, they are now an exception..).

Hang in there, hang in there. Take it one day, or even one hour or one minute, at a time. And just keep on plugging along. You too WILL find the combination of therapies that will help your son be the best he can be (and bring some order back into a chaotic life).