Realistically, this was not a choice. The children had stopped napping together and there was increasingly less and less of a chance to do the part-time work that was paying our car bill and my student loans.
More realistically, it’s like that Civil Wars song “Poison and Wine”: “I don’t have a choice but I still choose you.” There was never a choice, but I know I chose work, and everyone knows it’s a party foul to complain about getting what you want.
I’m going to do it anyway. I see William and Clara about two waking hours a day, and William, surrounded by runny-nosed kids, has not been fully healthy a single day since starting day care. We all get home at 6:00 p.m. and with baths and dinner and lunches and dishes, we don’t stop until we all crash into bed at 8:30 p.m. I get up at 4:45 a.m. and, with the erratic sleep habits of an infant, I go to work on about four hours of sleep.
But, it’s hard in the conventional sense. It’s hard in a way that is easy to talk about and justify. Society is much less patient with stay-at-home-moms than with working moms, and right now, I live and breathe empathy.
Besides, there’s the mean deliciousness of making a little money. Last night, in our record-high Florida temperatures, I got hot. So I turned the air conditioner on. In January. I woke up; it was cold. I turned the heat on, and raised a figurative fist at the electricity gods to say, Darn it! I didn’t sleep last night AND I’m working! Grant me this one indulgence!
I had the same conversation with radio gods this afternoon when I turned Bruce up to 38, rolled my windows down, and dared the small town of Crawfordville where I teach and all my students to witness my aggressive attempts at relaxation on a well-deserved Friday afternoon.
On Friday, we do not do a single thing except eat pizza and crazy bread and watch last week’s Modern Family episode on Hulu. There are dirty dishes in my sink and the laundry is crawling on my floor like some kind of larvae.
Additionally, I love, and get to do, English. We talk about whether or not The Mayor of Casterbridge is a determinist novel as Thomas Hardy intended. We consider the novel’s implied theme that, to be happy, a couple must be intellectually and emotionally well-matched.
But every day, I fail at something. I either don’t get enough work done or I feel guilty about picking the kids up too late. I forget to pet the dogs. I do too fast the things that should be done slowly, and too slowly, the things that should be done fast. I constantly want more of my family. Strangely, though, I think I need to be always confronted by failure to feel like I’m doing any good at all.
On that note, it’s way past time to go to sleep but I suspect my fifty-year-old self might like to remember how poignant every single moment of life is turning out to be in 2013. With these kids always pulling on my heart, with all this goodness and no time to appreciate it, there is always so much to feel.
And, just for fun, I wanted to see if there was any truth to the hype that William and Clara look alike. Here they are, at about the same ages. I will say that nose sure knows how to swim a gene pool.