“I don’t know how you do it.”
I hear these words more often than you might imagine for someone who has it pretty good. The truth is, I’ve got it really good, actually. I’m healthy. I’m educated and gainfully employed. My debt is manageable. I’m married to a hard-working (and hot) man who likes me a lot. We have three healthy and bright children. –Well I don’t know yet if the baby is bright, but he’s cute as hell.– We have plenty of room in our home that we are proud mortgage-holders on; and our cars, though not fancy, reliably get us from point A to point B each day. We don’t have vacation money or really all that much extra to spend (more month at the end of our money sometimes!)… but we are afloat. And that’s more than what some folks can say and a lot to be thankful for.
But… (you had to know there was a but coming…) my husband works second shift at the shipyard. And since I am a teacher, my daytime schedule means I see him [awake] only on Saturdays and Sundays. He handles the kiddos in the morning. With nowhere to be till afternoon, they have a slow and snugly start to their morning. But he gets them fed, dressed and off to the sitter by 11, does some chores and/or errands, then on the road to work by 2. That means I am pick-up. After a long day in the classroom with eleventh graders, I handle our household solo at night. That means I have my two boys (the oldest is with his mom and stepdad during the school week) all to myself during the “witching hours.” Anyone who has ever had little ones knows that 4pm to 8pm can be a little dicey, at best. Especially now, as the daylight gets shorter and shorter…
But how do I do it?
Chores, grocery shopping, (library? park?) “homework,” dinner, bath, stories, bedtime… It is a lot to do on my own. Telemarketers and politicians calling at the dinner hour, beware. But we have so little time together as a family, that I’d rather not save grocery shopping or 834 loads of laundry for the already too short weekend. I’d rather not have gritty house chores to do in the only 48 hours we are all together, though sometimes we have no choice. And so yes, I have a lot on my plate during the week. Heaven forbid we be invited to a playdate or want to visit a grandparent! But how do I do it? It just seems like a silly question.
I do it as best I can. Sometimes I do it looking like hammered damnit. Sometimes I do it one-handed. I do it with a captive audience with a (thankfully) limited vocabulary. And there are times I’m doing 4 things at once, none of which all that wholly well. And well, sometimes there’s stuff I just don’t do. Leftovers again never killed anyone and little people can share a bath towel. (They have the same icky boy cooties anyway.) I don’t always do it with a smile. At least not a real one. Actually, sometimes I feel like I might break down in the Food Lion. Haven’t you ever wanted to cry for an icecream sandwich and wipe the snot up your face the way your child is doing publicly and loudly? No? Just me?
But “How do I do it?” you ask… Tell me what my other choices are? Not doing it? Pitching a grand hissy and staying in bed instead? Believe me– Sometimes, I really wanna. But in the wise words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” And besides– there are a lot of moms out there making it happen on their own seven days a week. Single moms, miltary wives, etc. You wanna know how they do it? With grace and dignity on the good days. With sweat and tears on other days. But they do it. Because it needs done.