Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deep Breaths

One day at a time, one day at a time, one day at a time.  I find myself saying these words a lot these days.

Maybe it's because I'm feeling old and am seeking a means to slow down time.  Maybe it's because I'm feeling increasingly anxious lately over the ever-growing list of things I want to do and things I need to do, and things I fear I will never get done.  (Franklin Covey and its prioritized lists be damned!!! I don't feel an endorphin rush for having checked one item off a list of 100).

Many years ago, in BK time (Before Kids), I silently ridiculed acquaintances who lived overscheduled lives, their kids in three different activities every season, who never have time to attend parties because little Johnny has a soccer game.  I still ridicule them, but I realize now how difficult it is, realistically, not to be them.

I want my children to have the opportunity to try things.  I want them to be around other kids and develop strong social skills.  But damn, that takes a lot of friggin' time!

Last year was the first time the girls were really involved in structured activities.  At seven- and eight-years-old, I figured I'd put it off for as long as I could.  M did chorus, year-round swim team, and art classes.  G did gymnastics and Indian Princesses.  So we jumped in with both feet, arms, hands, legs, what have you...  I rationalized.  Chorus was before school one day a week so no big deal.  Gymnastics and art class were both on Tuesday evening, so two birds with one stone.  Year-round swimming was two nights a week and we could pick and choose and it was only for 45 minutes.  Indian Princesses was sporadic - maybe once every two weeks at best.


So .... I wasn't crying when M decided to drop swimming after her initial, required three-month commitment.  And I won't deny I did a little dance when G broke her arm at the Spring Outing and had to drop the last month of gymnastics (I filled out that cancellation form faster than a squirrel on crack).

In late May, art classes ended for the season and we had a breather.  In June, summer swim started up  which required practice three- to- four nights a week plus meets every Tuesday evening but it only lasted until mid-July.  And then, I reasoned, we were done and we wouldn't make the same (over)scheduling mistakes again.

Now, here it is, late July and I have found that I am wrong, wrong, wrong!

Here's where it all went awry - I signed up G for gymnastics on Saturday mornings. How smart!  No after-school homework conflicts.  M will be taking art on Thursdays at 4:30 pm (if the instructor ever calls me back but I digress - that's another story) which allows me to drop her off right after school, head to my part-time job, then have her dad pick her up an hour later on his way home from work.  No problem!

But wait.  M is also going to try Tae Kwan Do this year, which is on Tuesdays and Fridays at 7:00 pm.  Granted, it's right across the street from our neighborhood, but it's still taking up time on our schedule.  And ... we still haven't decided about chorus for M this year.  And ... we're now a "seasonal" family, meaning we have an activity going on every stinking season.

How... Did... This... Happen??????

And yet, I tell myself, I should do this for my girls.  I must.  Because even though my particular parents didn't participate in this nonsense, it doesn't mean that it wasn't still going on back then.  We didn't participate because my mom ran a home daycare and couldn't spend all of her time running us around.  And, because my rather old-school father wanted the family home in the evenings, with dinner waiting on the table.  Part of me can't blame him at all (see my rantings during the whole first part of this post).  But then part of me believes that maybe if I'd been allowed to do some activities myself, I wouldn't have been quite so shy, I might have been more motivated in school, I might have been better off.

What I want is to find a happy medium between no participation at all and the balls to the wall craziness that comprises travel softball, travel soccer, multiple activities starting from the age of two, or any other sort of all-consuming activities that cause parents to forget that they are, in addition to being parents, a family unit as well, and that family unit has lots of other aspects to it outside of the kids' enrichment needs.

We'll see if I can achieve that happy medium.  Until then, deep breaths, deep breaths, deep breaths.

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