Who says grownups don’t have homework? We’ve got a shitload. And there’s no blaming the dog if we don’t get it done.
I’ll speak for myself. I can’t catch up. If life were a graded class I’d be scrambling for a D.
These days, with work added in, I feel unbelievably swamped. Because everything now must be squeezed into the four days when I’m home. Or the parts of those days, that is, when MJ is not demanding my undivided attention to make up for my absence the rest of the time.
Which boils down to about, oh, forty minutes a day. Into which I try to squeeze the numberless quotidian duties of a modern mom, wife and homeowner. Plus:
The fundraising. It’s always on my mind. Always. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Or the committee chairmanship. How, I ask myself, will I raise thirty thousand dollars for my kid’s school? How? I lie in bed at night worrying. Plotting. Despairing. When I finally fall asleep, I dream about car washes, bake sales, ebay auctions, bank robberies. Only the latter is effective. Because it’s carried out by three-year-olds, with sticks for guns. Riding on bananas. Who’s gonna say no to that?
Then I wake up. And we’re still at zero.
Anyway. Then there’s this blog. I love it. But it’s an obligation, too. Self-imposed, but aren’t most of them?
Next: the garden. Jesus Christ, what a time suck. A while ago, in a fit of impatience and shortsightedness, I had Mike tear out the sprinkler system. Now everything has to be watered by hand. Every other day. Because it’s 150 degrees out there. Plants wilt easily. So do people. It’s a drag. And it takes seventeen hundred hours. I hate it. But I hate looking at bare dirt, too.
Next: the lunches. If we don’t pack those the night before, the morning is a disaster. Even under the best of circumstances our days begin frantically. God forbid we should add in one more task. Especially one involving mayonnaise.
Then there are the phone calls. To friends, family, insurance companies, tax assessors, veterinarians, doctors, handymen, exterminators, board members, possible fundraising connections, old acquaintances whom I’ve been promising to call for years and haven’t and now they hate me.
And don’t forget the straightening. And straightening. And straightening. And dishwashing, laundry, bathroom cleaning, garbage emptying, sheet changing, doghair sweeping, toy picking up, dusting, organizing, mealmaking and melted-crayon-scraping.
Once all of the above is done (hah!) there’s the book club assignment. “Gone Girl,” at the moment. I like it. But I hate it more. Especially as it has to be done by Wednesday, and I still have 100 pages to go. Each of which will drip with venom, duplicity, and perfidy. Good for the outlook! Next book: “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
Speaking of positives. There is one homework assignment I love. It’s the postcards to Myra-Jean. These are crucial now. They are the sole reason she no longer bursts into tears when I tell her I’m going to work. They actually make her glad. Glad I’m going, so she can look for them. It’s that easy. Or so it seems. It probably isn’t. But it’s helping.
And guess what? I like drawing them. I do it the night before. It relaxes me. Crayons are a cooperative medium. Unlike life.
Anyway. I imagine her face as she finds them, her tapered finger pointing as she sounds out the letters “O-W-L,” her delight at the image of a favorite planet, her soft smile as Mike reads my words. This makes me happy. I need no dog here. Nothing to snatch away this highest and most pleasurable of tasks: the lightening of my daughter’s day. I love it.
And it makes me feel better about everything else that’s been left undone. At least I’ve got my priorities right.
That and thirty grand will get me a decent night’s sleep.