There have many times since becoming a parent when I have been asked, “How do you do it?”—“it” being everything that needs to be done in a given day as the mother of three young children and full-time teacher.
I have always believed that the trick dwelled in not thinking too much about it. Just as you don’t truly realize how tired you are until you stop moving, the act of contemplating and tallying up what you actually do is what makes you start to question right along with your friends and family who can’t imagine how you do it.
So, at the risk of bewildering myself, here goes—a typical Tuesday:
5:36 AM: The alarm goes off. There is something about those six extra minutes after 5:30 AM that make me feel as though I’m getting a little extra sleep.
5:40 – 6:10 AM: Morning ablutions. To save time in the morning, yes, I could shower at night. But, honestly, if it were not for a morning shower, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t achieve coherence until well into my third-period class.
6:15 AM: Let the dogs out.
6:16 – 6:20 AM: Pick up the trash the dogs managed to snag from the garbage can, wipe the floor, and wash my hands.
6:20 – 6:30 AM: Put together snacks and lunches for my sons. And, again, this is something I could clearly do the evening before; but I can’t. I’ve tried.
6:30 – 6:35: Make breakfast for myself. While my egg is cooking, set the table for my two oldest sons. Set up the morning dose of medications for my six-year-old, who has epilepsy. Throw in a load of laundry.
6:36-6:45: Eat breakfast and send out morning emails—to teachers, colleagues, parents. Leave an update via voicemail for my son’s neurologist. Call in a prescription or two to the pharmacy.
6:45 AM: Wake up my husband and two oldest sons—at least once, and sometimes twice.
6:50 AM: Give my son Edgar three medications with as much cheer as I can muster as I come to grips with the fact that I am not raising “morning people.”
6:55 AM: Get breakfast started as I define the word “indecision” for my two oldest sons. Put Oscar’s violin, music, and Latin books in my car.
7:05 AM: Leave for work. Enjoy classical music and my only moments of solitude during my seven-minute commute.
7:15 AM: Arrive at work. Teach three or four classes (depending on the day)—that is, 75-90 eleventh- and twelfth-grade students. Bask in one bathroom break and a twelve-minute lunch (such is the glamorous life of a teacher).
1:55 PM: Leave work with a stack of papers to correct—a stack I measure in inches and pounds and not numbers.
2:07 – 2:30 PM: Grocery shop as fast as I can. Get gas OR run to the pharmacy. There is only time to do one.
2:45 PM: Pick up my two oldest sons and their backpacks that weigh as much as they do from school.
2:55 PM: Pick up my youngest son, who can run faster than I can, from his daycare provider.
3:00 – 3:15 PM: Arrive at my in-laws’, who take care of my two youngest while Oscar, my oldest son, and I meet with our Latin tutor.
3:30 PM – 4:15 PM: Latin lesson at the local library–Euge!
4:20 PM: Drive Oscar to his violin lesson.
4:30 PM: Pick up my two youngest sons from my in-laws’.
4:55 PM: Pick up my oldest son from his violin lesson.
5:10 PM: Arrive home. Bring in the backpacks and lunchboxes. Make dinner. Try to keep three hungry boys from diving into the box of Cheez-its. Cajole Oscar into doing his homework. Clean out backpacks and lunchboxes.
5:30 – 5:50 PM: Dinner for four. (We make a plate for my husband, who often works late.)
6:00 PM: Clean dinner’s detritus off the floor, table, counters, and occasionally surrounding cabinets. Sweep and mop floor. Take one load of laundry out. Put another one in.
6:15 PM: Put youngest son in the bath. Fold laundry. Clean play room. Run the dishwasher. Vacuum.
6:30 PM: Bring youngest up to bed. Read “one more story.” Sing “Soft Kitty” from The Big Bang Theory (don’t ask!), and say goodnight.
6:50 PM: Draw bath for Oscar. While Oscar bathes, give Edgar his five evening medications.
7:10 PM: A bath for Edgar—and maybe one more load of laundry. Lay out the boys’ clothes and shoes for the next day. Clean Edgar’s glasses (yes, this is usually a noteworthy task).
7:15 – 7:45 PM: By this time, my husband is usually home—so it’s stories, sight words, and silliness. Then bed.
After everyone is in bed, this is my time. I read, very occasionally watch television, and write. But I have to admit . . . there isn’t a whole lot left. Like everyone else, I do my best. And it is not lost on me how lucky I am to have a supportive husband, family, and friends.
Amidst all the busyness of life, there is a lot of laughter, many hugs and kisses, and some of the best conversation I could ever imagine.
Am I tired? Oh, yes. Never have I been so tired.
Would I have it any other way?
Do you even have to ask?
[A HUGE thank-you to Deanna DiMarzio, who captured these beautiful images of Oscar, Edgar, and August. Please visit Deanna's site for more information or to book a session in Rhode Island or Massachusetts.]