My youngest daughter started a new school last week. It is
the second time in 8 weeks that she has started middle school. The only thing
worse than starting middle school once is starting it twice. In my recent blog
to the Instagram generation, which was directed to my daughters who will likely
never read it, I referenced the challenges of being in an IB middle school.
When I wrote that post, I didn’t know how much more challenging it would become
in such a short time. We escalated from “this isn’t going so smoothly” to “I’m
pulling her out” in less than two weeks.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my job. I’m a parent. I don’t get paid in conventional dollars. But I do get paid in something. Sometimes it feels like sentiment. Sometimes it feels like a sentence. But it’s a job, man.
I used to have a steady, good-paying job writing software manuals. And I was decent at it. There were stretches when it was a lot to handle. I can remember being assigned new projects writing about software I couldn’t use. And typically the people who programmed that software were too intellectual to explain it to me. Deadlines loomed. In those deadlines, I was known to become a tad overwhelmed.
But that was different than parenting. When I had a work project to learn and write up and edit and polish—and when the project felt borderline impossible—I could close the door to my office and spread all my papers out on my desk and pull up my emails on my screen and sit there until I figured it out. I can’t do that now. The difference in my former work and my parenting work is that my former projects were never out walking the streets while I was trying to figure them out and finish them up.
On September 11, 2001, I was 30. I had been a mom for only 3 1/2 months. It was Tuesday. And prior to that particular day, September 11’s only significance to me was the birthday of a very special little boy. This day was his 2nd birthday.
I can’t say I wasn’t warned about life someday with 4 kids.
I’ve had 2 in diapers at one time. I’ve had potty training fiascos that would
qualify for Dateline episodes. Maybe even get me my own reality show. For sure, people would have tuned in to watch
Kid #4 take me for a ride. I’ve had 4 different schools. But this year I have
something I’ve never had before.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So they say. I’ve seen some babies that I had to wonder about. We’ve all seen me from the 3rd grade on. Sometimes beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And sometimes beauty just is. Or isn’t.
September 2011 — Wednesday was a really bad day. It was a frustrating, exhausting day full of Whinese and overreactions. By 7 p.m., I was pretty much done with the kids. Done with listening to them whine. Done with answering questions that had no answers (why do I have to read?). Done with requests that were stated as demands. Done.
In spring of 2012, while living on a farm in Plant City, I took up subbing at the charter school my children were attending in Temple Terrace. I figured if I was going to be at the school all day, every day, I might as well get paid 62 cents an hour to be there. When the P.E. Coach got married and took a short honeymoon, I agreed to fill in for him and wrote down a few of my observations in a journal.
Almost anybody could tell you that I’m practically a doctor. It’s in the genes. No, I didn’t go to Harvard. And no, I didn’t go to “medical school.” And yes, I did make Cs in high school chemistry. But have you met my mother? I dare you to get a malady that she can’t diagnose. Get sick in some weird way (normal ways are fine too; all the easier for her, really.), save the $100 your insurance will charge you, and call my mom.
This week marks a milestone for us as a family. We officially made it to the youngest child’s 3rd birthday without another child in the hatcher. Considering how slow we were to get started, there is quite a tale to tell here. However, that’s for some other day. For today, I have cakes on my mind. If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning, you’ve endured 2 DAYS of cake piping references. And furthermore, you are aware that those references have nothing to do with me. Because I don’t do cakes. I don’t even buy and transport cakes without consternation and disproportionate destruction. The following entry takes place over the course of 3 days last May. Because the bedlam was consistent and unending, I wrote it all down as it occurred. It was bad.
Odd things happen to us in less-than-odd circumstances. It’s possible that I’m a magnet for these things. Or I suppose it’s also possible that I’m just twisting ordinary circumstances into a sensational lollipop-guild type of tale. Maybe this stuff really isn’t weird. You be the judge.
It was a cold Thursday afternoon, a week or so ago. There was no school the following day, because people in our county think we should have a weekday to get on down to the county fair. We had no intentions of getting down to that fair, but the fact that we had nowhere we had to be the next day made it feel like a Friday night that needed to be celebrated. We had survived the week. Some weeks this is a bigger deal than others. But when you add to the celebratory feel of the day a swirl of nippy February wind, you got yourselves a family party at the local Cracker Barrel. And that’s exactly where we went.