Life in the Fast Lane

Life in the Fast Lane

Last night was so nice,” I told my sister, “we all actually had time together for a change.”

We were catching up on nieces’ and nephews’ lives, sharing the schedules we both juggle daily.  Overall, it was that one Tuesday night that stuck out.

I dwelled on how important I think that time is for us, and basking in the afterglow of achieving it –and I tried to figure out where it might happen again.  I really analyzed that very specific night and came to a shocking realization.

It turns out that my “evening together” was not a very accurate portrayal.

The youngest finished school at 3, but stayed on for her “Girls on the Run” program.  I left work, collecting her at 4.10.

The middle child had a rare evening off from lacrosse, but he hung around the middle school to go over an assignment.  He finished at 4.10 as well, but across town, which is closer to my husband’s work.  So my husband took that pick-up, and together they waited on the oldest.

This last one, the sophomore, is the biggest wild card in our daily schedule.  The end time of his lacrosse practices vary according to several factors, all beyond ours–or his–control.  We’ve learned that we must just be prepared.  (Note I say “we’ve learned”; I’m still working on “I’ve accepted”.)  This particular night, he finished around 6 PM.

By about 6.15, we were all home.  We shared a meal–home-cooked, real food, food not out-of-a-box or hastily snatched up to be consumed while watching a game, or driving.

The children were forced to share their “two good things of the day”, upholding my goofy traditions that make them roll their eyes.  Further garnering their good will, I insisted not only must they clean up after the meal, but that they must work together to do this, splitting the unloading and loading of the dishwasher and clean up from meal’s preparation.  I reminded them of rabbits, which the middle child needed to put back; the dog food dishes and water bowl which the youngest had to refill; and the chickens which  should be looked at one last time by the oldest.  Since it was Tuesday, I also issued orders for trash, recycling and compost to be taken down the driveway. As a parting shot, I completed my mothering duties by reminding all three that homework had better be done before they sat down to any electronic gadgets, that the washing machine was empty currently and could certainly take a load if necessary… and that if the youngest was completely ready for bed when I came home, we could still read Harry Potter, since I didn’t think I’d be too late.

Then I left, as I had choir rehearsal, which started at 7.15.

This is what I realized that next day, upon further reflection: my “such nice time as a family last evening” was a whopping, huge sum total of FORTY FIVE MINUTES.  

And yet, this is a modern day miracle.  It is not at all lost on me that most people have a much longer commute than fifteen minutes… that most people don’t work from offices that allow you to pick up kids and get back within ten minutes… that not all bosses are excited about letting kids be in your place of business…. that many families don’t have two adults running the kids to and fro… that some families have more kids to track and transfer, and more travel requirements of the working parents…

And please (oh please!):  know that this is not a nightly occurrence in our house, any more than it is in any of our friends’ homes.  We take it when we can.

Tonight’s schedule won’t look like this utopia.  It includes a lacrosse practice for the youngest, a home lacrosse game for the oldest, and a late arrival from a field trip for the middle child.  Supper will be a bit more creative, likely hamburgers from the “Colonel’s Den” at the field, probably supplemented with some fruits and salads brought from home–although I’ll might allow some chips and licorice to come along, too. There will be no sitting around the table, but maybe I’ll ask for “two good things” from the kids on the ride home, even hearing a couple of bonuses from the extra kids staying the night.  

All-too-soon, as I’ve been repeatedly warned, this phase of chaos will be done, and the house will be all-too-quiet as they move into their next phase of education and life.  

For now, though, I do love a good family supper.  Even if it is only forty five minutes long.

Jill Stahl Tyler is a parent to three children involved in the local schools–at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels.  She firmly believes in all education, and currently sits on the board for the Brattleboro School Endowment and the Brattleboro Town School Board. Contact her at jill@globalcow.com.

 

 

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