I made the choice a few months ago to return to grad school. I work in Early Learning, and after 11 years being on the floor, directly playing with children, I feel like my brain is turning to mush. How many times can you sing Row Row Row Your Boat? How many diapers can you change? How many times can you say “We don’t bite our friends” and “Gentle hands please” or “For the love of God, stop climbing the fucking shelves!”? (That last one might just be in my head).
So, I decided I would go back to school. I love to learn, I love the theory and the discourse behind what I do, so it was an easy decision. It started with a course on our provincial Early Learning Curriculum. Not bad, I thought. A few hours a week, I thought. I work early in the mornings, the kids go to bed early, I have my whole evenings. I can do that.
I have a whole new fucking respect for parents who are currently working from home. This shit sucks. Attempting to get anything done with kids around is like shovelling your driveway in a snow storm. With a teaspoon. Trying to find time to do the readings, participate in the online discussions, make time for the Zoom classes, research and write the assignments. This is in addition to:
-Get up at 4am to get me and two children (none of which are morning people) ready for a full day at daycare.
-Work a full day in a room with 17 2.5-3 year olds.
-Come home, feed, bathe, and put to bed two little gremlins, who have been up since 4am (see above).
-Yoga/Run/Some form of physical movement.
-Spending time with my severely neglected husband.
-Go to bed at a decent hour so that I’m not a monster the next day.
Just, like, a little bit of exhaustion at this point. My weekends are my saving grace, I can catch up on some work during nap time, get some reading done while the kids play or run while they watch TV. Poor G. though. I feel like I’m neglecting and ignoring her, while she’s living her best life playing on her tablet the whole time. L., on the other hand, goes back and forth between just doing his own thing and desperately needing to cling to me like I’m vanishing into thin air. My little quarantine baby can’t handle being away from Mama too long. He’s a lot better at playing alone than his sister ever was, so he’s surviving just fine.
And this is just one course.
So I’m working on balance. When they said “Find time for yourself, make yourself a priority, you can’t pour from an empty cup, blah blah blah”, where exactly did they want me to take that time from? My precious sleeping time?! I already feel like I’m neglecting my kids for school and neglecting school for my kids. It’s tricky. However, I know it’s for the best in the long run, I’ll be happier, they’ll be happier. They have to learn to be independent at some point right? They have to be able to spend time with themselves at some point. I just hate that I feel guilt that I’m not with them at all times. Then I wonder, my mom kicked us out of the house to play as soon as breakfast was done and didn’t let us back in – unless it was to pee – until lunch. Did she ever feel guilt about it? Or did she just revel in her actual clean house? (That’s the dream, isn’t it)
So that’s where things are at. My brain is tired. My body is tired. My tired is tired. However, the personal satisfaction is worth it, my kids are developing some independence, it’s all good. Right?