If my kids are at school then why would I want to be there, too? It’s not just the morning shower routine, hair dry, and getting dressed that I hate. I don’t want to read a book, see a project presented, participate in a feast, have a conference, cater the class party, hear an off-key performance, or devise a holiday craft. (All those creative women you find perusing the aisles at Michaels...yeah, I'm not one of them.) I’m the paper goods mom at best. I’ve never been an active PTA mom, a room mom, or a volunteer coordinator. Occasionally, my conscience coerces me into volunteering for some activity when that desperate sounding e-mail circulates begging for just one more participant. If you couldn’t tell, you don’t want my kid in your child’s class because then you’ll end up with me. And being at school isn't a place I want to be.
Oh, and if the school clinic calls, I might not answer. Shameful, I know. Coming home requires a fever or sure signs of illness that need no further explanation. Last week, I was sucked in by the school nurse, abruptly answering the phone by default and unprepared with a reply to evade an early dismissal. She said Peter had a stomachache, was sitting in the clinic, and she was packing up his stuff to come home. Oh, ****! (You fill in the blank because I probably said both.) In those moments, what options do I have? For the record, I’ll never go so far as to send a sick, really sick, child to school. I promise I won’t let my kid infect yours if I can help it.
I know I’m not the only mother who wants every moment of “free” time after my children have vacated the house. And I use the word “free” time loosely because my days aren’t spent propped up on the sofa eating Bon Bons. (Side note: Does Nestle still make those? Chintzy Dibs are not the same.) Most days my morning ritual adheres to a rise and clean wake-up call rather than the preferred rise and shine outlook that's enjoyed by every non-parent or parents lucky enough to have grown children. That cleaning I’m compelled to do in keeping the home fires burning if you will, usually extends well beyond the time the children have boarded the bus. All four of them.
I want every minute of that in between time from their departure to the second they arrive back home. I’m not ashamed to say it. Oh, how the hours go by so quickly. Let us not forget that the second parts of my weekdays are entirely devoted to meeting my children’s needs, from snack to bedtime to homework help and beyond. Plus, the dreaded weekends (Yep, I hate them) of full-time mothering that begin around Friday at 3 p.m. and lasts until it’s time to rise and deep clean again somewhere around 6:00 a.m. Monday morning. I wasn’t always such a grouch. Mothering has left me worn out. If you're a mom with young kids, it's likely that you're horrified reading this. You'll get there, too, in time. I’ve been a mostly stay-at-home mom for twelve years and my “free” time is well- deserved.
So now I’m off to spend three hours doing what I dread, albeit with a smile so my annoyance won’t show through on my face. I can fake it with the best of them and, if I look around, I bet I’m not the only one, teachers included. Let's hope the same isn't true for bus drivers.