Monday, April 7, 2014
F: Frenetic (A-Z Blog Challenge: Evocative words)
Last week was like that. I was out in the evening four out of the seven days! Don't even talk about what the house looks like now, with no Mom at home for four evenings. (Samantha steps over baskets, shoes and toys, pretending not to see them). Luckily, it's my spring break and I can catch up a little.
Like many contemporary Moms, I have trouble figuring out how to keep up, how to balance it all and not go crazy. Sometimes, I do well, other times, well, less so.
How is that my mom and my grandmother never seemed to feel like this? Grandma had six children to manage, but she never seemed like she was in a hurry. (Though, come to think of it, when they went somewhere, they were always late).
So, what's different?
Expectations for the roles of women: My grandmother didn't hold down a job outside the home once she married. The home and children was her job. That's kind of amazing when I think of it, because they had six children and my grandfather didn't make that much money. In the same situation here in 2014, there'd be no question that both parents would work. But, in the 1950's and 1960's? Not so much. The kids just had less food and went without shoes if they had to. Either poverty didn't have the same stigma, or they just soldiered on through the stigma.
More mothers worked outside the home by the 1970s, when my mom started the mom-ing game, but mine worked at home. She drove my grandmother and great-grandmother around because they didn't drive, so, in a way, she managed three homes.
I'm a schoolteacher, so I get a taste of this life on school holidays and summer "vacation." It's definitely true that I am less overwhelmed when running the household is my only job. It's easier to find time to grocery shop and wash the clothes when the day is my own to structure, instead of only 3-4 waking hours of it.
Expectations for what children do: Did my uncles take lessons in this and that growing up? Did they have playdates involving transportation needs? Um, no. Neither did anyone else. You played at home, in your neighborhood, with whatever children were nearby. Maybe richer families did things like piano lessons, but, even that usually meant that the teacher came to the children, not the other way around.
By the time I was a kid, child leisure time was becoming more organized. I took dance lessons, swim lessons, piano lessons and gymnastics (not all at the same time) and played league-organized sports. So did my sister. My mom spent a lot of time in her car and in the bleachers or chairs waiting on us.
Compared to many of my friends and their children, I feel like my kids are less scheduled. The big one does schools sports now (so simpler transportation situations) and guitar lessons in our home. The little one doesn't take any lessons right now, but used to do dance and tumbling. We hope to put her martial arts soon.
What might be new to the scenario is "me time" for parents. My husband has a once a week gaming group. We take a sword class together once a week. I have writing critique group twice a month, and sometimes I go to the movies or book club or a reading or dinner without my family and with friends.
My parents and grandparents didn't do that. Some people's moms and dads have a poker night or a sewing circle or something, but mine didn't. Some people's parents did church-related things, but that usually included the kids, so it wasn't separate from the children the way our individual activities are. But parents, mostly, went out very occasionally, for special things. They didn't seem to put the same value on keeping up a social life.
The result for us, is a color-coded google calendar that we check all the time. Every time one of us is invited to do something, we check there to see if it's possible. My husband and I are masters of coordination and negotiation. We know days in advance if we've hit a snag and need to arrange for our children to ride with someone else or arrange for hired babysitting. This life is why my blog is called "Balancing Act." I'm always trying to balance kids, family, friends, work, husband, self and dog.
The pace definitely feels frenetic. More than once, I have fallen and been run over by the boulder. I get up, dust myself off, and start running again. Because, what would I willingly give up? Really? Not anything. I love all these things. So, pass the coffee, because the boulder is going to keep on coming.
This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.