In a little more than a month, for the first time in eleven years, all the kids will be in school five days a week.
It is a moment I have been both dreading and looking forward to for quite some time now.
For the last four thousand days, for every waking hour of the day, my schedule and my entire life has revolved around anywhere between one and seven children’s wants and needs.
But in thirty-nine days, all of that is going to change.
At least for a little bit.
I already have a part-time job in the afternoons. I’m working at least twenty hours a week coaching. So part of my day is already spoken for.
But between the hours of 8:30 and 3:30, (except on Mondays when Number 7 has a short day at kindergarten) there will be no interruptions.
There will be no more preschool drop offs in the middle of the day, and there will be no more kids at home during the day.
Every day I will have seven hours of freedom and flexibility.
Seven hours of freedom!
And so you know what I’ve already started doing?
I’ve already started filling those seven hours with a whole list of things to do.
I’ll volunteer in all the kids classrooms.
I’l be the room mom for at least one of them.
I’ll join the PTO and a couple of other committees.
I’ll direct a few fundraisers and I’ll start training for another marathon.
Because every second of my day should be full.
I mean, my husband is at his job all day.
If I don’t have kids at home anymore but I’m also not working at a job all day then I should at least fill every hour of every day with stuff to do to “make things even.”
Then I pulled my head out of my behind.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
I am not doing any of those things.
I am not going to be a room mom.
I am not going to head any committees. I am not going to volunteer in multiple classrooms.
I have worked my ass off the past eleven years.
I have juggled and multitasked. I have made thousands of meals one-handed or with children hanging all over me.
I have taken hundreds of shits and showers in front of an audience.
I have kept things running (fairly) smoothly while being groped and grabbed and climbed on and while listening to a soundtrack of whining, crying, screaming, yelling and fighting on a constant loop.
I have navigated the grocery store with a cart full of kids who are grabbing things they aren’t allowed to eat and throwing the world’s biggest fit when I tell them they can’t have it while being given the stink eye by a bunch of cranky old women who have apparently forgotten what it was like to be a mother to young children.
And goddammit, I am not going to move from one craziness directly into another one.
I have paid my fucking dues.
For parents, and moms in particular, the calendar year really begins in September.
And for me, as we are approaching a new year, this is going to be The Year of NO.
I am saying no to everything that isn’t currently in my life and that isn’t absolutely necessary.
I am decluttering my life, my brain, my to do list and my schedule.
I am taking on nothing new.
No committees. No projects. No extras.
It’s time to decompress and simplify.
I am going to give myself a break.
I am going to exhale. Then inhale. And then repeat.
I am going to reset the clock.
I am going to give attention to the areas of my life that have been neglected for the past eleven years.
I am going to carry on a civilized phone conversation without being interrupted.
I am going to vacuum my house and then just sit in it knowing that nobody is going to come and dump a bunch of fireplace ashes or chuck a bucket full of microscopic beads everywhere or scalp a couple of Barbies and scatter their hair all over the rug for at least six hours.
I am going to plan and prepare meals without breaking a sweat and without another human being physically attached to me.
I am going to allow myself a reasonable amount of time to get things done rather than running around from place to place and task to task like a complete and total lunatic.
I am going to eat meals that require utensils while I am seated at a table rather than in the car behind the steering wheel.
I’m going to give myself some time off.
Time off from being unnecessarily overscheduled and overextended.
Time to figure out what things are really important.
Giving myself this gift of time will allow me to give my family a gift.
The gift of a less stressed, more rested and more available mother and wife.
There will be time to volunteer. There will be time to take on new things.
But not this year.
Because this year the only thing I’m saying yes to is saying no.