Alright, who’s great idea was it to schedule the end of the semester right before the biggest holiday of the year? Seriously!
Yeah I get it, it’s convenient for the “traditional” college student.
Fuck the traditional college student!
What about us (probably few) students who are also parents…especially those of us who are parents of school aged kids….and alone parents (I don’t feel quite right labeling myself a single parent because that other
asshole parent is still involved and I don’t have my kids all the time though sometimes that just makes things more challenging)?
What about us?
This is pretty much the worst time for finals. I’ve survived fourteen weeks of being a full time student, part time employee, and parent. The end is quite literally in sight. It’s so close I can almost touch it…except there is so much still to get through and so much stress to endure in the next four days.
The biggest challenge of being divorced (aside from trying to communicate with my ex-husband. I mean, we didn’t succeed at it when we lived together and actually like each other. Now, pfft!) is being the only adult in the household. I know I’ve mentioned it before and it has gotten slightly easier as my kids have gotten older, bigger, and more able to help with things. But at times like this the difficulty and pressure of having to do it all becomes more acute.
As my alarm was going off this morning and I was waging the internal battle over whether or not to hit snooze again I began to think about why I needed to get out of bed. Lunches needed to be made, kids woken up, breakfast eaten, school gotten to and ,as usual, if I didn’t do it no one would. We’d all just sleep in and be lazy bastards all day.
Who needs education and structure anyhow? (Yeah I know, we all do.)
That’s how everything is in a one adult household:If you don’t do it, no one will.
Even the tasks that the kids can do for themselves have to be initiated by the adult, Yes, they can all make lunch for themselves (except the youngest) but for some reason someone still has to tell them to do it. And before you all start thinking that I should teach my kids to be more independent or stop enabling helplessness you should know my kids are pretty capable and self reliant but they’re still kids. For some reason a fifteen year old sometimes needs to be reminded to eat real food (though I’m not sure if pasta from a can counts as real food but let’s not get caught up int he details). There have, however, been a few proud parenting moments the past few weeks where he actually started a load of laundry without being told to do so. I’m pretty sure he ran out of underwear but, hey, it’s something.
Day to day life becomes a priority list of what really must get done today and what only should get done. And the really needs to get done keeps a person busy…
And now it’s the holiday season. Take the usual parental pressure to make things super great and fantastic for your kids all the time, multiply it by three to account for divorced parent guilt, then raise it to the fifth power and that pretty much describes parenting around this time of year.
I’m pretty good at not engaging in the usual parental guilt tripping bullshit that our society seems to think is normal now (No Elf on the Shelf in this household!) but there’s still the things that can’t and shouldn’t be avoided. Holiday concerts (that require black pants someone needs to buy), classroom parties (complete with online sign up sheets for snacks, treats, AND craft supplies…Seriously? Just give them some glue and glitter and everyone will be happy, except maybe the janitors.), teacher treats (about ten of them…and the principal…and the office staff…my kids think we should give the entire school staff treats. They look at me like I’m depriving them of a basic human right when I tell them they have to limit it to three teachers/staff each.), classroom Secret Santas (this seems to be a middle and high school phenomenon…so only three of my kids participate. Ugh!), and our usual family Christmas traditions. These are actually something I enjoy. They’re things like making cut-out sugar cookies and decorating them together, putting up Christmas lights, and getting a tree to decorate. Things I love doing every year with my kids. Things I look forward to. Though they increase the happiness of everyone they still require time and energy and someone to do them all. Me.
Add to all this the end of the semester crap and it’s just a lot. My usual tactic for times like this is to break it all down into bite sized pieces, make a mental (because who has time to write it all down?)prioritized list of what needs to get done by the end of the day, then the end of the week, etc.
It makes the seemingly insurmountable do-able…one thing at a time.
And that works.
Lately, though, I seem to be losing the forest for the tress. I didn’t realize that’s what was going on until I read this post from a blog I follow. Even though he’s got some different pressures it’s exactly what I’m dealing with. Getting so caught up in the task lists that I’m losing sight of the end goal and what’s really important.
Yes, I want an A in Econ and that’s going to require some time that I really don’t have. But life will go on (probably) and everything will be okay even if I get a B….hopefully.
Yes, my organic/biochem final has some level of importance but I could get a fifty percent on it and still have an A in the class. Who cares if it’s a really, really impressive percentage if it’s still an A?
Welll, me. I’m beginning to see that sometimes I have completely unrealistic standards for myself.
Maybe we will just have frozen pizza (again) for dinner tonight and peanut butter sandwiches (again) for lunch tomorrow but we’ll get a fucking Christmas tree and decorate it and that’s what will stand out when we all look back. That’s where the joy comes from. That’s what’s important…
No, not the tree. Doing the tree thing. The time together. The end goal.