Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Busy" is as "Busy" Does

I got asked by a co-worker/reader/awesome person who does wonders for my self-esteem: "Where the heck have you been with the blog, girl? Too busy this time of year?"

Yes. Yes I am.

Actually, I'm not. I could have done this instead of something else.  Lots of other things got done instead of writing, my fourth-favorite hobby after music, drinking coffee, and staring off into space. But I've been busy.
And that's where the whole "busy" thing becomes so much more complicated.  It's not about "busy", it's about "priority".

Busy: The Big People

We are a two-parent, full-time working family. We are teachers.  Hubby is in over his ever-thinning hairline at work, because he's two music teachers rolled into one.  I'm in a new position, a very different style and subject matter, and I'm under water.  I can see the surface up there, though. I'm not breaking through anytime soon. 
This fall, Hubby also started working for a marching band. (Not this one, but I love this post).  Around here that means that several nights a week and for a couple of weekends, he's away. Child & house-running duties are all on me. Just like one of those real wives! Imagine!
Do I mind it? Only in the sense that I'm pretty damn jealous sometimes!  Because I'm a busyholic, and a who are we kidding, not recovered at all recovering band geek. But damn are we busy now.
But, I like "busy". I was one of those kids who ran around to a billion and one rehearsals and activities, and loved every second of it.  And like many I'm way more productive and happy when I know I've got a purpose or two for the day.  Yes, outside my usual "mommy" purpose.  If I don't have something going on for a day or two at a time, like in summer? I get itchy and create something. No, cleaning doesn't count. Duh.

Since it's been way more of just me and the girls, I feel lately like I have much less patience to give them, particularly the big one.  In honor of this adjustment in our lives, Miss M has decided to amp up the WHINE factor. Why do I feel like I've already blogged that exact sentence before? OH well. 
I think I go right to white-hot annoyance more readily because I'm busier now.   I don't have the time to mentally sort through everything she wants vs. everything she needs. Or perhaps my older child is honestly more freakin' annoying? Internal monologue: Oh my GOD stop your bitching and moaning or I will give you something, I'm tired, nevermind.  Tell me again how it gets better when they turn 5? Somebody? Please?
 I'm too busy to listen to whining (who isn't?), and I'm not a naturally patient person.
Yes, I teach elementary. What? 

PS: Even though I work full-time and my kids are (slooooowwwwly gaining independence), I wish I knew how many other busy parents want to hide in the bathroom a few times a week.

Busy: The Little People

Then there's the children's activities.  For instance, I was informed this weekend that my older one is almost of age to perform in a color guard unit for children. (Can you guess where I was when this was discussed? Boo-yah, Band fanatics!)  There are practices, I think twice weekly, and performances to come. And it prepares them for entering marching band and indoor guard at a younger age and continuing through college and WHAT? I'm sorry, excuse me while I go laugh my ass off...
No-no, I'm sure it's a wonderful organization. Yes, love of music, poise and confidence. We will consider it. Someday.
However... She. Is. 4.
I have not even consented to drive her to a freakin' dance class yet, and you want me to sign on for 14 years of color guard?
Our neighbors are always raving about the kiddie soccer experience.  And Karate.  Which, between their two older children, they are driving around no than 4 nights a week. And one weekend morning. Including some Sundays. Shoot me.
I hear how my teacher friends take their sons to T-ball and their daughters to scouts, and I think, "How nice, I want to hide my children in the house now."  I don't want to go to the extra effort of doing all that stuff, because I am a selfish, selfish mommy, and when would I blog and check facebook?
And can't they just go the heck outside and play?
No. Miss M does not do that.  You have to come outside with her and entertain her, because apparently imagination turns off when you're in a place that Mommy doesn't mind you trashing. Now, the living room...OH, the possibilities for scattering junk!
As infants, my children did not go to "The Little Gross Motor Skill Competition Gym Class", or "Mommy & Me Fretful Busytime with Cutesy Singing and Noisemakers Class", or...
Geez, Meg, cynical much? You get my point. And these classes are wonderful things! They're fun, and skill-building! Only $300! That there, thats' where you lost me. I'm busy, but I'm also cheap.
I just never got around to it. E went to 8 weeks of Physical Therapy during which she cooperated with the wonderful therapist like twice. Does that count?
But where's the socialization? The added experience that my kids are expected to have (you know, my 20 month-old, she's not getting any younger!) before they hit First grade?
I recall a co-worker complaining about a socially inept student: "He just has no life experiences to draw from.  He does nothing but school and home, no classes, no group activities, he doesn't know how to live!"
Who wants that to be their kid? There's just this understanding amongst suburban parents that dance, little league, boy scouts, etc., is what you do.  It's a given.  And it's clearly positive overall, the kids are having fun, displaying learned skills, and growing into wonderful little people! So why not?

Ok, sign us up for color guard, please!

Ha ha! Riiiight, let me get right on that.

...On the other hand, who wants to have the child who is scheduled to death? Who wants the family that never sees each other, all the time, because everybody is involved in two or three after school activities, night classes, and other fun, enriching, skill and character-building, crap.  There's a fine line, and I think I lost it somewhere under this pile of permission slips.


I'm thinking there's a few questions families have to ask:
What is the level of familiy Busy doing to the kids? Is it cool? Or not so much:
There's been lots of talk about the fact that kids just don't know how to play. Is it because they're too busy with all these essential, fun activities?
How does this level of Busy affect the family as a whole?
Do we see each other enough? If it's important to us, can we pull off a family dinner on a quasi-regular basis, for instance? Do I remember my children's full names and ages?
If you're a busy couple, how about that?
How's that working out for you? Busy can help you forge a "whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger"  relationship.  But it can also be a deal-breaker.

Because I know next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, ignore my "wisdom" and substitute your own. Then write and tell me cause, again, I know nothing:
How's your "Busy" working for you?
Do you wish you did more or less?
If so, are you in a place do DO anything about that?
I know I'm too busy to be writing this post, for one thing.

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