Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What time is it?

I should be doing so many other things, but I really just want to write to you, dear reader. I foolishly thought that the kids going back to school would mean that I would be a lady of leisure, cruising around in my minivan looking for things to keep me busy while the children learned things and the baby napped peacefully. I do a lot of driving in the minivan, but it is not what one would call leisurely. First I drop off Emma at school, then Charlie gets dropped off next door at his preschool 20 minutes later. By the time Charlie is out of the car, it's a mad dash to race home, feed the baby, get him to sleep, and then conquer something on the To Do list before having to wake up the baby and go get Charlie again. Here's my current To Do list:
  1. Pick up pictures at Walgreens
  2. Make ghost costume
  3. Make Halloween cookies for Emma's school picnic today
  4. Make "Harvest Moon" mac and cheese for picnic
  5. Do laundry (when is this not on the list?)
  6. Finish shopping for Teddy's b-day presents
  7. Return & renew library books
  8. Finish Teddy's baby book (only eleven more months to go!)
  9. Write novel (only 200 more pages to go!)
  10. Knit robot
  11. Make "super baby" costume for Teddy
  12. Make pumpkin muffins for Charlie's Halloween party
  13. Get Teddy's one-year portrait made
  14. Make cake for Teddy's b-day
Ahhhg!!! This list is stressing me out. Clearly knitting the robot can wait. But everything else is sort of time sensitive. Gone are the days when I could look up at the sky and guess cowboy-style what time it is. Now, I feel like I live by the clock...ten minutes until Emma needs to be at hour until I pick up Charlie...five more minutes and I have to wake up Teddy from his nap so we can wait at the bus stop.

Mommy confession time: A few weeks ago I wasn't at the bus stop in time to pick up Emma. I thought I had left at the same time I normally do. I must've lingered a little longer helping Charlie with his shoes or getting Teddy into the stroller. We were also foiled by finding trash billowing around our street due to tipped over trash cans. Charlie and I stopped to pick up the trash, and I was feeling all superior, like we were the neighborhood heroes. I may have even said, "Look at us, Charlie. We're the neighborhood heroes." What an idiot. While we were picking up garbage, Emma was riding the bus all the way back to school where she would have to wait in the principal's office for me to come get her. She said that when she saw I wasn't there to get her, she just told herself "it's going to be's going to be okay..." over and over again. She said she still cried a little despite her best effort to hold it in. Who's the hero now? But then she said she had fun waiting in the principal's office, so I felt a little less horrible when I heard that. The crazy thing is, I had no idea I was even late for the bus. Charlie and I were outside playing soccer looking for the bus to come. We didn't realize we had missed it until Brandon came running out of his office building, yelling for me to go to school to get Emma. (Yet another reason it's a good thing he works across the street from our house.) The principal's office had called him when they couldn't reach me at home or on my cell phone, which was conveniently located in my purse on the kitchen table. Stupid billowing trash. Clearly my lateness has nothing to do with the fact that I always forget to wear my watch, and has everything to do with the trash. I think it's safe to say I will not be winning mother of the year this year. Maybe that's why I'm over-compensating with the Harvest Moon mac and cheese and hand-knit robot?

I have five more minutes and then I have to get ready to pick up Charlie from preschool. We'll have a few hours to hang out and make Halloween cookies and watch Magic School Bus and then it will be time to go outside and play soccer while waiting for Emma's bus. Then we'll have an hour until we have to bundle up the baby, cookies, and the mac and cheese to go to Emma's Halloween picnic. Then it will be bath time and bedtime. At that point I will probably look around at my piles of laundry and dirty dishes and wonder why I couldn't manage to accomplish anything today.

The truth is I'm getting sort of resentful of all the cookie/muffin/mac n cheese making that having children seems to require. I love doing this stuff, but it is sort of taking over my life and I feel like my novel is going to die a slow death, quietly being suffocated by a giant casserole of mac n cheese.

I know scrapbooking is probably not as pressing a To Do List item as it might seem. However, I feel compelled to finish Teddy's scrapbook because I made baby scrapbooks for the other two children and I don't want him to feel shafted. I feel like if I don't make the scrapbook by his one-year b-day, which is on Friday, then it will never get done. Sort of like the thank you notes from Emma's birthday that are languishing on a bookshelf in the playroom. I still haven't showered and it's already time to pick up Charlie from school. I don't feel like I'm managing my time well. Should showering be at the top of the To Do List? Is laundry more important than Halloween costumes? What is the statute of limitations on a thank you note? I feel like I need to let something go....what should it be?

I am thinking about signing up for National Novel Writing Month in November. I'm hoping that doing something crazy like this for one month will force me to put the novel writing front and center and push the mac and cheese making to the back burner (pun, sadly, intended). Signing up for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is called by us nerds, basically means that you promise to write 50,000 words (or roughly 200 pages) in one month. Gulp. That comes out to about 6 or 7 pages a day. That will be a HUGE commitment. Would signing up help me get my priorities in check or would it just be yet another thing to feel guilty for not doing? That is not a rhetorical question. Please tell me what you think I should do!

Thanks for listening! Now to make some sugar cookie ghosts and pumpkins with Charlie...


gwen1234 said...

You know that I think you should do it, both for selfish reasons (including that I love your writing and want more of it to be in the world, even if our NaNoWriMo stuff is too bad to show anyone) and because I really do think it will be fun. But I support whatever you choose to do -- that to-do list is pretty daunting.

Suzanne said...

Sign up! Tell all the other moms that you're taking a mac n cheese sabaatical!

Elizabeth said...

You're right, Suzanne! When I looked at my to do list again, I realized how much of it is my own weird idea of what I should be doing as a stay-at-home mom. I think I was one of the only people at the picnic tonight who brought something homemade. The cookies I made with Charlie were a bust. The ghosts and pumpkins got way too spready and puffy and didn't look like anything, so we stopped at the store, where they had lovely Halloween cookies for the taking. Why do I have such high, homemade expectations of myself? I need to get over that. I enjoy cooking and being crafty and all that, but not when I'm doing it under pressure or because I feel like I'm trying to prove something to someone else. I think I'm going to sign up, and just give myself a free pass for the month to not be Soule Mama or Martha Stewart or whoever your ideal mama is. Ironically, the novel I'm writing is about a Martha Stewart type mom who has a nervous breakdown. ; )


Katherine said...

ugh. To-do lists became the bane of my existence after kids! I used to live by them and they always helped me keep track of what I had accomplished. I quit writing them sometime after Grant was born because I would always find them months later and be reminded of all the things I didn't accomplish.
But . . . I'm struggling right along with you on this one . . . and I don't even have a carpool schedule (or the requisite scheduled dressing of children and self) that goes along with it.
I broke down and wrote a to-do list the other day . . . (as I dig on the desk to even find it . . . wait . . .it's on the block shelf. Who put it on the block shelf????). Let's see - I've completed one and two halves of items from the list.
Let me know if you figure out the answer! :) In the meantime . . . I'm ignoring the mending pile and laundry that needs to be put away so I can go play outside with the boys. :)

Deanna said...

No advice, just hellos and loves :)

And, also, I like this post. I can hear your voice in it.

Robin said...

Don't forget you have another "to do" in November:

1. Catch up with Robin over coffee and babies. :)

Hugs and encouragement in whatever you decide,

Grace said...

Remember- alot of your to do list is fun craft stuff not boring chores. Like make a cake and make pumkin muffins. That stuff sounds really fun to do. I don't do all that stuff in a whole month.
Happy Belated B-day Teddy and keep on writing!

Susan said...

So I have this friend who makes beautiful cakes and cookies. Every time I bake I get stressed out now.

I haven't even finished Sophie's baby book. Daniel's is great, so I keep pressuring myself to catch up with the other two.

My heart really went out to you about the bus stop story. Could have been me. Very easily.

Don't stop pushing yourself - when the kids are bigger you will be so thrilled with how much you have achieved and that you have developed your interests.