I tossed and turned all night last night, anxious and fretful. I even got up around 3:30am to check Web sites for hockey classes, soccer organizations and skating lessons. I knew I'd be wasted today at work, and more disheartened than ever at my inability to balance all aspects of my life.
Despite my exhaustion, I have a rare new project to work on, that is off Mr. Horrible's radar. This learning is great fun, and it feels good to have a chance to prove myself and to interact with my most worthy coworkers (instead of doing busywork that isn't important to anyone). I'd committed to going running at lunch with a coworker, which I've learned is essential to giving me energy on an especially tired day.
After picking up the boys, I thought to ask Gabriel if he'd finished his homework, and he launched into his usual eye-rolling and defensiveness -- but he had. I told him that if he had, maybe we could make some banana bread together. He'd made me feel very guilty yesterday when I told him maybe we could do it this weekend, and he said, "you always say that Mom, and it never happens."
So, we made it happen. While I was making dinner and doing some baking of my own, he used a recipe in his class recipe book, a book that his teacher had pulled together from favorite family recipes of each kid in the class. Another kid had submitted banana bread as well as Gabriel, so I suggested we try the other kid's recipe.
I stayed almost completely hands-off, talking Gabriel through every step. For things he couldn't reach, or things that are too heavy to handle, I helped him, but that was only a few times. He got out all the ingredients, bowls and cups; he did all the measuring and mixing -- and of course, smushing the bananas in a bag. Kids are very very slow workers, so it took pretty much all night, but he was dedicated to the task.
And what a difference in the evening!! When I picked the boys up, Gabriel was clearly on track to spend most of the night pestering his siblings, so this completely neutralized a very toxic element. Julian had no one to ignite his formidable potential for obnoxiousness, so spent much time quietly reading alone. Katrina indulged in her usual favorite activity: playing, talking aloud, making up her little stories, without being bothered in her room with her door closed. Ang Gabriel clearly relished the attention and alone time, as did I. It was still hectic (I didn't even get any photos!!), and made for a very late evening -- no head-start on lunch-making, and Dave and I weren't done with everything until 9:30 -- but it was overall so so much more peaceful and enjoyable.
Of course, I know that spending "quality time" with kids always improves their outlooks, and mine, but the life of a working parent doesn't always allow that. And the life of a working parent whose kids attend Collins and have an inordinate amount of extra project time especially doesn't allow that. But when somehow, the energy and time can be found, the payoff is huge.
Maybe I'll sleep tonight instead of searching for guilt alleviators in the middle of the night.