Last night I walked away from the most fulfilling thing I do for myself all week. I quit the community performance choir (auditions required, albeit gentle ones at that) I joined at the end of the summer. A dear friend, and mother of three herself, had asked me if I wanted to try it with her, and let me tell you, it was great. I found that not only did I retain some skills from long ago in high school music, I had maintained my modest mezzo range after 4 kids and singing along to the radio exclusively for the interim twelve years.
From 7 to 9 PM on Monday, it was worth it.
But, 4 to 6:45 PM was a different story.
In order to go to rehearsal, starting in October, Andy had to take over teaching catechism for me from 6:15-7:30 at our church, a 30 minute drive. That required two different babysitters. One for the middles, one for baby Hoss. Two generous neighbors helped on both fronts. That meant Hoss would only have to go 75 minutes without one of us (Andy could pick him up by 8 most nights). Hey, who ever said this would be easy?
Well, no one. And it wasn’t. Hoss did miserably all two times we left him with our wonderful neighbor (mother of 5, grandma of 5 jillion). Andy travelled on of the other weeks, and I had to take over his class, all 3 too-little kiddos in tow (Cal was attending her own class). Mondays are tough.
But, yesterday, despite all my best efforts, crock-pot heroics, schedule manipulations, marathon nursing, and last-minute cleaning, all I could come up with was misery. And yelling. A lot of yelling. And the second frigging out-of-print Scholastic book I have to replace (Really, Amazon Associates, cancelling the order again?! Who cares about Clifford’s flippin’ Stormy Day Rescue is in “very good” condition if what you meant to say was “non-existent” condition!?! Not that I’m angry.)
And that did it. The three oldest were at each other’s throats. I literally roared at my children. Cal and Lumpy started crying. I asked if they liked the yelling house where the only way mommy can get anyone to obey is by screaming at them. They said no. Ihad to hug kids and make them feel better before I could even talk about what went wrong.
I learned, yet one more, horrible, frigging time, that MY children are not goal-oriented or driven by results. They have absolutely no focus or sense of cooperation for our family, BECAUSE THEY ARE 2, 4, AND 6 YEARS OLD. NOT because they have no discipline or I have been lax in gently parenting their little hearts to get them to follow my own desires. WELL FRIGGIN’ POOP ON A STICK.
My husband came home. We ate a rushed dinner. My husband took Cal to catechism. Hoss fell asleep. The babysitter came over and played with Lump and JR in the basement. It was 6:30. And that was it.
I called up my mommy buddy who was going to give watching Hoss a try and cancelled. I loaded Hoss into the car and my uniform and my music book. We drove to the dress rehearsal, walked in together, and turned my stuff in. I told our incredibly understanding and almost magically skilled director sorry, but there will be a good time someday. And I’ll be back when that day comes. I left a voicemail for Andy telling him what I did. Hoss and I went to the grocery store, and he rode in the cart for the first time:
There will be a good time for singing someday. Really. For Andy and I as parents, there is so much power in the few words that cement our faith in the promise of delayed gratification. (Four years ago I would have been wrestling with the perception of not letting parenting change me, but that’s simply a base discussion this late in the game.)
All this headache? For my stuff? Whew. I’m not worth it. My fleeting two hours of happiness, that is. Not worth subsidizing my experience with the peace of four young children and the $10 for our extremely reasonable teenage babysitter. I won’t be cruel to myself and say I couldn’t handle it. The endless emails and arrangements. Rushing Cal through her homework without my help. Expecting non-destructive behavior and quiet play from the littles during their witching hour.
No. It’s not me. I did the work, I was diligent, focused, and prepared.
But they weren’t. They couldn’t be. Because it’s just not the right time.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens