They said it wouldn’t get any easier. I didn’t believe them.

I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads lately.

My youngest child started first grade this year (gulp) and that leaves me home alone for a good seven hours every day.  I love it and hate it.  I’ve dreamed of this day and dreaded this day.  I am still crazy busy with church, kids’ school stuff, errands, housework, social life, hubby’s life and so forth, but I’ll admit that sometimes I am a little bored, in my head, beneath all that dreaded busyness.  I am happy and sad.  Most days I wish I could bring time to a screeching halt, and other days I wonder when I’ll ever get these insanely loud kids out the door for good.  This recent jumble of emotions has left me a little high strung lately, and not a little snappy with the people I love the most (i.e., the insanely loud kids.)  I’m sad that they’re growing, and they’re always growing, so I’ve found myself a little bit sad a lot.  It’s what every mother on the planet goes through every day, and I really need to get over it.

This past month I’ve started a small tutoring job for just a handful of hours every week.  It’s not a lot, but I can’t believe how much those few mornings away change the whole rhythm of my life.  The kids are in school while I work, so they don’t even know I’m away, but I can actually feel a new distance between myself and my home.  Sounds melodramatic, I know, but every mother reading this understands what I mean.

There is something primal, almost mystical, that ties a woman to her home–not just to her family, but to her actual house.  Men (bless them) don’t understand this.  My whole sense of self is tied in with the hum of the dishwasher, the ring of the doorbell, the shine of the hardwood floors.  The cereal and crackers and canned olives that line my pantry shelves were carefully selected by me–and only me.  Nobody else on earth cares one fig what’s for dinner at the Smith house on Tuesday night, but I do.  I care a lot.    It means something, all this list-making and errand-running and mopping and folding and planning and organizing.  After thirteen years of doing it daily–and pointing out what I’ve done to anyone who will listen–I’m still not sure that anybody in my family notices it but me.  But that doesn’t make make me love doing it any less.  Here in my home, I am Queen Bee.  Mistress of the almond-scented handsoap,  maker of the patched-up family home evening memories.  So now, though I’m gone only a few mornings a week, I already miss that feeling of being a blue-blooded, absolutely-full-time homemaker.  And I miss having little ones at home with me.  (A Queen Bee needs somebody to boss.)

Oh, the kids are still around plenty;  our afternoons and evenings and weekends are crowded and busy, but come Monday morning, the house falls silent.  I have tons to do at home; in fact, the to-do list has only grown now that I think I have time to do more.  The problem is, I’m not terribly interested in doing all the things I used to ache to do “someday when I have time.”  The “time” has finally arrived, but the motivation has left. I guess like everything else, domestic projects lose their luster when they evolve from dream to reality.  (I’m now living the “someday” that was supposed to get me to finish my scrapbooks.  Yikes!  It’s here!  Make it go away!)

And yet I love the freedom of hopping in the car and going wherever I want or need to.  And I love interacting with people outside my family, hoping that I’m contributing a tiny bit to their lives.  But as with any new phase of life, this one brings with it a tidal wave of emotions, because another phase has ended that was destined to end someday, no matter how I tried to stop it.

My family is changing.  And so must I.

Which makes me think that my little psuedo-drama boils down to one thing I’ve heard all my life but never really believed:  change is hard.  I love my life and I know I have it good.  I know there are even better things to come.  But watching your children–and yourself, really–walk slowly away from the innocence of youth is like tearing an old bandage off a big wound, one little scab at a time.  It hurts, just a little bit, over and over and over.  But it must be done.  It will be done, whether we give our consent or not.

And like everything else that matters at all, I have no control over any of this.  Except in how I write about it.  And, as always, writing about it makes me feel a little bit better.  So thanks for reading.


a very important date.

I need your help, my three faithfuls.

I have got to–got to–stop running late all the time.

I have had places to be and people to see and a valid driver’s license for over twenty years.  And yet two decades have not taught me that I should allow myself an extra–oh, I don’t know, two minutes maybe?–for unexpected incedentals, like–oh, I don’t know–driving to the wrong church building for a fireside in which  you and your two daughters are scheduled to perform.

We weren’t exactly late tonight, but we weren’t early enough to manage the catastrophe of miscommunication that landed us in an empty chapel five miles away from where everyone else was waiting expectantly.  Arriving an extra two (or twenty) minutes early might have been a good idea.  Would have saved a lot of embarrassment, maybe even a few tears.  (Not mine.  My daughter’s.  Worse, much worse.  Horrible, even.)

Help me, friends.  For the love of all that’s goodness and promptness, please help me.  I know many of you reading this get to things on time.  I know it’s only a matter of habit and a little discipline.  I know running late is a mark of carelessness.  Selfishness, even.  I know I should be better than that.  I know.  I know.

But it’s like a dog to vomit:  I always think I have just a few more minutes to finish up just a few more things before I need to leave.  Really important things, like putting the laundry away or defrosting the chicken for dinner or checking to see if you’ve commented on my blog.  Yeah, I’m a pretty impressively busy woman.  Much busier than all those people who arrive on time, for sure.

I need to start considering everywhere I go to be a Very Important Date.  Church stuff, school stuff, social stuff.  When I know I have to be somewhere on time–like the airport–I get there on time.  I’m obviously capable of it.  I just need to apply that same standard to everything else.  I will consider writing this admission my First Step To Change.  Is there a twelve-step program out there for people like me?  Is it expensive?  If yes (and no), then sign me up.  I’ll be there.  On time.




Sisters are like fat thighs: they stick together

I decided to switch things up this week and post from somewhere other than my messy and overcrowded bonus room.  I also decided to post alongside someone other than my lone self.

Where am I? you may ask.  Who am I with?  I will gladly tell you.

I am sitting on the sofa in a cozy, lovely room in Park City, Utah.   My darling sisters, sister-in-law, and (slighty crazy) mother are sitting close by.  A fire glows in the fireplace, a chick flick weeps on the big screen, and snacks galore line the tabletops and counters.  We’ve just spent the last five hours talking about our kids.  (It has been my experience that, in the vastness of the Universe, only your mother and your sisters will ever find your children as interesting a topic as you do.)  And the most notable fact?  No husbands or children are anywhere nearby.

Am I having fun?  you may ask.

In a wordyes.

My older sister just turned the big four-oh and we all decided to get away for a little ya-ya time.  My younger sister, who is expecting her fourth baby and lives in Salt Lake, booked a room for us, picked us up from the airport, and the rest, as they say, is eating/talking/shopping history.  We’re only on Day One, and I’m already feeling more excited to go home and be a better wife, mother, and box top collector.  (Okay, I’m going to go home and start collecting box tops.  This is my year.  I’m doing it.  For real.)

The best part?  When we arrived at the hotel, the clerk couldn’t find our reservation.  After several futile attempts to correct the situation, she finally sighed said she was just going to put us in the presidential suite.

Is it fabulous?  you may ask.  Are we loving it?

In a wordyes.

Was it worth leaving my beloved husband and kids for three days?


And do my sisters and I really stick together like our fat, post-childbearing thighs on a hot summer day?

Yes.  Oh, yes.

(And a steamy scene just came on the chick flick and I’m trapped here watching it with my mom.  Is that healthy?  Is it right?)

(In a word:  no.)

(Oh, no.)