Thirty-six minutes later

It is ten past five.  The children have been more or less tending to themselves for almost two hours.  I provided a snack, I helped with a poop-related crisis, and I took over a harmonica by eminent domain.  But, otherwise, I have left them to their own devices.  The boys are using the time to wrestle, which is considerably better than the bitter fighting we saw in the early afternoon at the playground.  Lilah is making it her business to pull off the shelves all the books I have managed to get unpacked.

And there are toys everywhere.  The mess is far too advanced to expect them to clean it up themselves.  Well, maybe not.  I mean, they certainly are capable of doing it.  But it requires me to supervise and nag far more than I care to do this evening.

I am writing.  I am revising an essay so that these people can continue their unbroken string of rejections of my work.  I am making progress as children tumble around me and black beans cook on the stove.

When I finish, I send it off to a friend for feedback.  I have bought my writing time at the expense of needing to clean up once the kids are in bed.  I move on to this blog post, which gets interrupted around the second paragraph when the wrestling turns vicious.  Teeth marks.  Then the UPS guy brings a package and I decide to enforce a little cleanup time and Lilah has yet another poopy diaper.  It is 5:32 before I return to finish this up.

So, the TV is on, dinner is ¾ ready, and the toys are, let’s face it, ¼ put away.  I have not written the post about the town we are now living in or Zachary’s insistence that he is the only five year old in the entire Kindergarten.  I have not read to Benjamin today.  Or Lilah, come to think of it.  I have taken the kids to play outside, fed them, and lost my temper when they tormented each other.  I have not exercised or written the post about how I am gaining weight.

But I have gotten an essay done.  When you all write comments, asking me how I manage to make time to write – that’s how.  Sometimes, I don’t write.  And sometimes I let everything go to power through.  It’s the only way that I won’t wake up, five years from now, resentful of the children who I read to every day and taught to clean up all their toys.

15 responses to “Thirty-six minutes later

  1. She Started It

    You day sounds so similar to mine. I even have the same unbroken chain of rejections from the same magazine to prove it.

  2. Yeah, my boys are older, but we found some weird teeth marks last week on one of them.

    Yeah, that’s how it gets done 🙂

  3. I’m sure your essays are brilliant, Em.

  4. I am glad to read that the boys and L. are back to being themselves!I just wanted to add that having spent seven years of my life dealing with these kinds of days, and being a SAHM, I can tell you, at least for me, that I have yet to wake a single day, resentful of reading to them, teaching them to pick up after themselves, teaching them that teeth are for eating food and not their siblings. I know very well how draining and exhausting these years are. I kind of feel like, now that I am back at work, working outside the home, I have another perspective. Have faith in the knowledge that you are doing a beautiful job teaching these lucky, lucky children that they are valuable and empathetic human beings. Now that A is too big to sit on my lap for story time, I can tell you very honestly that I never say no to E when he asks to climb into my lap to have me read Skippy JonJones for the 9 billionth time. What essay or blog entry is more important than that?

  5. Out of curiosity, how old ARE the kids in his kindergarten?

  6. an essay is worth a messy house for sure!

  7. I am not convinced that my intercessions on the mess would make any difference. We would clean it, and then it would get made again. And again, and again. So I opt to write, too. It’s pretty much the only reasonable course of action, until the little mess-makers are sleeping and not making any more messes.

  8. Sometimes all you can do is let everything go to hell while you carve out a few precious ‘me’ minutes. Quite a lot of the time, actually.

  9. Carving out those times. The only way to do it sometimes.

  10. This is why I write out posts on my phone half the time. ha.

    For Zachary…Bailey is five and in kindergarten. She will be five the entire year of kindergarten, not turning six until July 18th.

  11. The house is dirty, we don’t read to the twins at bedtime, the oldest is neglected, I often don’t cook a real meal … and I don’t even have a string of rejections to show for it. Just hours of reading blogs and dreaming of actually taking photographs. *sigh* It is what it is.

  12. It’s the only way that I won’t wake up, five years from now, resentful of the children who I read to every day and taught to clean up all their toys.

    You know, this is SO important. See, my mom really did give up everything in her life to take care of us. And she DID resent it. And on some level, we all knew. As we got older, she was comfortable acknowledging it, acknowledging that although she didn’t see HOW she could have done anything differently, she wished sometimes that she had. She pulled us all out of school to homeschool us, so she didn’t even have that time anymore.

    And don’t get me wrong; I’m really grateful to her for doing that. But at the same time, we all knew that she was unhappy, and that affected us, too.

    So I guess that’s my (usual) me-me-me way of saying that I think you’re doing an amazing job. And your kids will have a great example. 🙂

  13. Oh. See. This might be why I don’t want to be a writer.

    But look! You managed to cook dinner that day. I dub thee a great success.

  14. You really think you’d be resentful?

    Now, I work from home, but when she’s sleeping, and it’s not working out great. You gotta do what you gotta do. they need time to entertain themselves, too!

  15. I think I’d be resentful too. I don’ t think it harms my kids that not everyday do Matt and I do every single thing that we are supposed to be doing to be good parents. Some days we have lots of reading time. Some days we get outside. Some days we have awesome home-cooked meals. We are only 2 adults with limited time and money. There are three kids and multiple careers, jobs and vocations in the mix. Not everything has to happen everyday. Winter is settling in here. There will be more settled reading time together as a family than we had in summer, during which we had more outdoor time, learning to ride bikes and being told not to play in the street. There is an ebb and flow. I trust myself – as you trust yourself – not to sacrifice too much for the sake of my work, but not to sacrifice too much of my work for the sake of everyone else’ needs coming first. Sometimes my work is first. Sometimes it last. Sometimes it is squashed in the middle of all things.