First, there was denial. After the longest summer on public
record, I was desperate to regain those precious three hours a day
to do anything I wanted. And by "anything," I mean "take a nap." I
couldn't believe the strike was a go. Against all logic, I chose to
set my alarm clock on the slim chance that the school bus might
actually appear. I stood in the glistening dew with Joey that first
morning of the strike-a solitary mother rising up in complete
denial of the tragedy before her. The bus never came. And the
neighbors nervously took note of my waning grip on reality as they
headed off to Dunkin' Donuts and The Art Institute instead.
Then anger set in. I wasn't angry at anyone in particular. I was
just mad. I began writing irate letters to Eddie Bauer for putting
too much spandex in their new jeans. Then I wrote Fannie May Candy
to complain about too many calories in their Pixies. I also yelled
at my husband for always taking "the good pillow."
I even screamed at bees just because I hate bees.
Bargaining made an appearance by Day 3. I advised my husband
that I would seek full-time employment so we could simply send our
kids to private school. He argued that my dream job (working the
Starbucks counter at Target) probably wouldn't cover the cost of
three Catholic school educations. I then bargained with God,
agreeing to attend mass every Sunday in exchange for making my kids
smart enough to never have to go to school again. This would
circumvent years' worth of science projects, book reports, and any
future strikes. Sadly, I awoke to find the boys completely baffled
over how to open a fresh box of Life Cereal. Joey also was wearing
mismatched socks and had his shirt on backwards.
God evidently passed on my offer.
Depression came next, accompanied by a case of red wine. What
was the point of it all? I didn't make the boys bathe or shower,
figuring swim practice and all that chlorine would kill whatever
germs stuck to their pores. I gave up on our daily flashcards and
reading. A formal education was clearly not in the cards for my
children. I kissed my hopes and dreams goodbye, and we watched
"Scooby-Doo" for eight straight hours.
I never reached acceptance. When word came down late Tuesday
that school was to resume, I was still in a depressed funk. All the
anxiety, second-guessing, and information-gathering had left me
exhausted. I gloomily made the kids' lunches, packed their school
bags, and commenced my return to CPS-motherhood with all the zeal
of a convict marching towards the gallows.
As I bemoaned my diminished academic fervor, my husband offered
up these words:
"Why don't you try to get a nap in while Joey is at school
tomorrow? Maybe that will perk you up. You love naps … and can we
please turn off Scooby-Doo now?"
A nap! Zoinks! If it hadn't been for those meddling kids hanging
around all day, my naps would have sustained me! I would have
ordered Latin-language flashcards from Amazon! I would have read
"Beowulf" to them in Old English!
So today I will rejuvenate myself for the year ahead. Thanks to
a nap, I will be excited about my appointment as "reading mom" or
"field trip mom" or even "wash the hand-towels mom." I will look
forward to collecting my children from the four corners of the
Chicago-metro area. I will celebrate their educational strides and
achievement with renewed passion and interest.
Unless, of course, that first Innisbrook school fundraising
packet shows up with a "suggested" sales target of $1,500 in
overpriced wrapping paper rolls.
The bees best stay clear of me then.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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