I built the routine for the children. For the child, Trombone, when he was a baby. It started with a night time routine. Bath, stories, bed. He liked it. I liked it. It took all the uncertainty out of the evening. Our days took on the same texture. Breakfast, go out, have lunch, nap, go out, some tv, dinner, bath, stories, bed. You can vary one or two of those – dance class on Thursdays, the occasional overnight visit to the grandparents’ – but not too many variations, not too many days in a row.
Number two child, he messed with the routine, just by existing. No matter. I worked around it. We are flexible people. We just like a bit of structure. It isn’t only for the children, you see, it is for us, to help us deal with the children. It helps on the bad days to know that the day will end and it helps immeasurably to know roughly at what time day’s end will arrive.
(When I think back to before I had kids and I would just do things, just head off to a movie, or out for dinner, or every night for pitchers of beer. I didn’t do those things enough, is what I think. I would have done those things more, had I known that my spontaneity would be suctioned from me like so much excess spit at the dentist.)
Then comes a weekend. Anything goes on weekends. A weekend day might look like any other day of the week. Or it might be a Special Day, simply because Daddy is there. You might have pancakes for breakfast, you might go swimming or to a different park or to someone’s house. There might be naptime, there might not. I love weekends, of course I do, I love the togetherness and the co-parenting and the slight relief at not having to be on Poop Patrol alone, but I never know what’s coming next. Anything goes – what do we do now? Will the kids fall asleep in the car, ruin nap time and then ruin my evening plans? Is there time for me to hit Value Village and get a haircut during nap time? Just Value Village? Value Village and Superstore? Will the poop come before or after the trip to the park and do I need to pack clean underpants? If the trip to the park does not involve poop, will we be able to get home in time for the children to sleep so that they will wake up with enough time to make a trip to the library before it closes because it closes early on Saturdays?
So much uncertainty!
This summer has been like a big, long weekend. There are birthday parties and SA had time off and his parents were here and then they weren’t and then SA wasn’t here either for a few days and my computer went crazy and the baby went crazy (is he teething? giving up a nap? afraid of popsicles?) and this morning the dishwasher (loaded and ready to run) broke and we have wasps in the garden and my brain is screaming – can you hear it? – enough! enough! enough! like some maddened bluejay.
I have a to-do list that is intact, pristine, un-marred by even annotation. I wrote it in early June. The snow tires are still on the car, for example.
All day today, washing dishes, visiting with a dear old friend in town for one day only, walking Fresco around in the blazing sun to get him to sleep, my brain is complaining loudly, grumpily. I need a haircut. I need to write. I need to run. I need to get things done.
But really: I want a haircut. I want to write. I want to run. I want to get things done. I NEED to wash all the dishes. I NEED my child to get some rest. I NEED to get rid of the wasps in our garden.
I want to not have so many needs that overtake my time for myself.
It is not the end of the world. I just miss my routine. Maybe tomorrow.