Right now our schedule is more full than it's ever been. And I've come to grips that we are just in a very busy time of life right now.
This week for the first time I wished for another driver's license in the family.
As I was camping out in my car on Tuesday running from Activity Days to gymnastics to soccer and feeling bad that I couldn't get Elle over to tennis, I realized that I should be doing the pick-up end of Max and his friend being dropped off at a basketball game. I called the other mom who had dropped them off and she assured me the boys were fine: her daughter had picked them up. Her daughter.
Daughter saves the day.
And right then and there I felt this longing feeling. I want another driver! I started daydreaming about how great it would be to have Max run to the grocery store to grab the one thing I forgot for dinner. Or to send Elle to pick up a waiting child after a lesson when I have to be three different places at once.
Oh, it would be dreamy.
But wait, I do NOT want these kids to grow up!
Hmmm...but maybe I could hire a driver....
I feel kind of hypocritical these days. I've told myself for years: "enough is enough" and "kids need time to roam and be free...to use their imaginations...to be creative." I've always felt so darn sorry for kids who can never play because they're being bused about to and fro ... sports and music and drama...you name it.
And suddenly I just realized those are my kids ...the ones being carted all over kingdom come to do "stuff" and to be busy, and I am the mom, aiding in the busy-ness. I'm the one who hands over the checks and subconsciously makes the commitment to get them where they need to be when they need to be there.
I'm kind of bugged at my judgmental past self because I had no idea the backgrounds going into all that busy-ness I saw in those more mature families. I sat with my young kids surrounding me, hanging out with my friends doing crafts and projects all day. I simply didn't understand the balance those other busy families were finding, like mine is now. Did their husbands, like mine, vow when they were young that they would do anything they could to make it possible for their kids to try out new things? I didn't understand that as a parent of older kids you want to do all you can do to help those kids reach for whatever they may dream of someday becoming? I didn't understand some of the struggles that kids go through and I never thought that lessons and sports could really be a key in helping them.
BUT, there is a balance. I am sure of it. When things outside the home start to replace the most important things inside the home (family dinner, family prayer, Family Home Evening, basic togetherness), then it's just too much. The tightrope shouldn't be that thin. And then you re-evaluate.
Right now I'm re-evaluating.
The problem is that I don't want to trade watching my girls "spot" each other on the trampoline as they put all their new gymnastics tricks to work. I don't want to give up all the tennis Elle and Grace are doing. Elle loves it and it's a path to some fun things in the future for her, and I swear Grace is on the brink of loving it. Tennis is something we feel like we can do as a family forever, so we're in that one hook, line and sinker. And then there's crazy football for Max. Seriously, this league is a little nuts with all the time and requirements, BUT he loves it and without going into detail Dave and I both think this is so great for him right now (we are his experts, after all, and the weight of basketball and all that goes with that haw wrapped up). Then who would give up piano lessons? Can't go there. And then Elle and Grace have decided that soccer is their ultimate passion. They adore it. Then there's violin in school that has to be practiced for at home and scouts and other church stuff, and homework and practicing and reading and cleaning...where's the imagination development time? Where are the care-free days?
I've come to terms that the only solution to the craziness right now is getting rid of a kid. Or maybe two.
The bottom line is that I want all my kids (really, really want them, plus two more if I could get them), and Dave and I have made a conscious decision to be too busy right now because we feel that it's important for our kids. Yes, we will cut back when this season is over, and next year, we may find ourselves doing much less.
But this year I will buck up and drive my carpools, taking advantage of the time to listen intently to my children and their friends, and have one-on-one time with them when I get the chance. I'll cherish the handstands and the soccer cleats left in the middle of the floor. I'll have a better attitude about lugging the chairs and the snacks while trying to cajole my kids to stay by my side through the parking lot trying to get to the sidelines to watch a game. I'll continue to find a way to make family dinner work into our schedule and help the most important things stay in focus.
Because I am the mother. And that's what mothers do.
But I still can't wait 'til summer!