Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Existential Mommy

First, let me say that I LOVE being a mom. I am ALL about being a mom.

Now, I need to admit something: Every evening, at dinner time, I get this feeling of dread regarding what is to come. Dinner, homework, washing-up and bedtime. It sounds so simple! It sounds so easy!! But NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dinner consists of me trying to get my kids to eat SOMETHING other than pizza, mac and cheese and hamburgers. I broiled these wonderful baby lamb chops the other night (please no comments from the vegetarians/vegans out there....), but my kids wouldn't even touch them. It's like that nearly every night, unless I cook up one of the aforementioned favorites. And vegetables? Uhuh. Adam will occasionally eat some cauliflower, and Brian likes salad. But for the most part, dinner is a highly unbalanced meal. And that doesn't give me the good mom vibes, you know?

But the worst is yet to come...homework. Adam is in first grade, and Brian is in third. If you don't have kids, I doubt that you will believe me when I tell you that they each have close to an hour of homework every night. Most of the teachers at their school give out a packet of homework assignments on Monday, and the kids can pace themselves over the course of the week. Every night, they are expected to read for 20 minutes to a half hour, depending on the grade. And then there is the written work on top of that. Math worksheets, social studies, puzzles (anagrams, crossword puzzles, card games...sounds like fun? Not so much...).

Here's a tidbit from Adam's homework packet: One of Adam's assignments this week was to compile a list of AT LEAST eight words that have the sound "eeeee" in them. They can be spelled "ee" like "tree" or "ea" like "steam". First grade! I wasn't taught to READ until first grade! But this is the way things are now.

Not that I don't totally appreciate the incredible education my kids are getting. But every night, as I look at what is on the homework sheet for that day, as I open up their backpacks to see if anything additional came home or if there are any "book publishing parties" or "presentations" coming up this week that I have to add to my own calendar, I do feel this heart-quickening feeling of dread.

And when I finally finish with the meal negotiation, and they finally finish with the homework assignments, they are allowed to watch some television. And then I have to coax them into their pajamas and get them to put their clothes in the laundry, and I am still usually left with a playroom that has toy cars strewn about and half-built block buildings littering the floor. Keeping that room and its gazillions of toys organized is a job fit for Sysiphys.

Actually, the whole daily process is a bit Sysiphysian. Who was it that said that Sysiphys found meaning and pure consciousness in his unending rock-rolling? Was it Sartre? It could just as well have been Patanjali. I try to tell myself that. On good days, like today, I sit patiently with the kids and remind myself that this is a practice, a daily practice, and that patience and calm is going to make it feel better than fighting it. It's what I do, after all. It's pretty much all I do. So, why not keep rolling that rock up the hill with a calm, easy smile, or at least without rolling my eyes?



He's Dead, Jim! said...

Lauren, I can only imagine.
My little friend, Maddie (6 years old) is beginning the second grade. Her mom died more than three years ago and her dad, Tim, has one heck of a time keeping track of homework and toys and everything else.

She is a smart kid, but as you can imagine, she is somewhat withdrawn and craves female companionship. I love to spend time with her. When I go to their place in Hamilton Heights on a school night, a good chunk of my visit is devoted to dinner and homework and bath and getting Maddie to bed at a reasonable hour. The army of people Tim has assembled to help amazes me. His job keeps him away from 9 until 7 every weekday, and then he needs to deal with all that you just wrote about.

All he can do is his best. And all you can do is your best. And I am sure your kids will be wonderful, given their mommeeeeeeeeee.....


Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren,

I can only imagine... Brandon is only 3 and I'll admit I already feel overwhelmed. Since I work full time, we don't eat until late then we read and try to do a bedtime routine. Sounds like you've got it under control.

See you tomorrow (I hope).

PS - I've been trying to work on my jumping forward from down dog to Uttanasana, I don't know if you noticed Sunday, but the feet are going in the right direction, but I'm still kind of falling forward (which in itself is progress). I guess what I need is an idea of how to fix it or improve it?

Anonymous said...


A couple of suggestions for the kid handling process:

1. Use watching TV as a reward.
They should be in their PJ's BEFORE they get to watch TV. Then you won't have to coax them that much.

2. The same can hold true for eating. They have to eat or no TV or whatever special thing they want to do. At your kids' ages, they could earn points for a super reward at the end of the week.

It has worked with my kids.

A Mom

yoga chickie said...

Thanks for the advice guys (gals). Beth, I asked the readers to comment on jumping forward for you...if we don't get a decent response, I will write more, but much later today.

Teaching tomorrow at 10, 1:15 and 7. Hope to see you!


He's Dead, Jim! said...

Unfortunately working all day tomorrow... Bummer! One day I will make it to your class.

To your question, I met Maddie and Tim in an unusual way. I dated Tim briefly more than two years ago. We are not meant for romance, but we found each other again about five months ago. When I met Maddie, I knew I had to be in her life.

So, I decided to make plans with her for "girls days," where we do stuff like get our nails done, play dress up with clothes in my closet, and spend time with successful females so that she can see she can be anything she wants.

I love it. And Tim has noticed a difference in her, albeit small.


Nick said...

It was Albert Camus' version of Sysiphys from the book "The Rebel"

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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