Many years ago I read a quote on the art of trying to balance work and family and everything else. The woman (whoever she was) said: ‘you can have it all, just not at the same time.’
Which, in my current life is turning out to mean: on Mondays, I can run errands. On Tuesdays, I can cook a decent dinner. On Wednesdays I can spend time with my children. And on Thursdays I can clean the house. For it is not possible to do all of those things on the same day, unless a nanny and a housekeeper are involved. Or, at the very least, a baby who sleeps through the night.
So Wednesday rolled around and, since, Calgary had stopped impersonating Seattle with its grey skies and perpetual rain, I decided the best use of my time….would be to play outside with my kids. After all, I had some (homemade) frozen burritos in the freezer, which could serve as dinner. And save me from having to hole up in the kitchen with three children imploding around me.
When we got home from school, I put the baby down for a nap, and headed outside with the two older boys. The Gort had some ‘science’ homework due the next day: finding four different seeds and gluing them on to a piece of paper. So we sat on the pavement and dug through pinecones and various berries to see what kind of seeds we could find. And then we labeled the seeds with awesome names like ‘from a berry’. Because, dear teacher, I do not know the names of any of the plants that produce berries. Sorry.
After the homework, we sat down on a blanket with colored pencils and paper. The Gort and I tried to draw leaves, while he told me about chlorophyll. The Hen, who’s still in the scribble stage, filled three pages with wild, multi-colored artwork.
At some point the Gort said ‘mom, can I ride my bike on the sidewalk?’ Which was music to my ears. For whatever reason, the kid has displayed zero interest in riding a bike, or learning to ride a bike, and this has bothered his father, and me, because don’t all kids want to ride bikes? So I got very excited at the mention of the word ‘bike’ and agreed – very enthusiastically – that he was welcome to ride his bike on the sidewalk. ‘You see, Nicola’ I thought to myself, ‘kids really do learn at their own pace. He just wasn’t ready to ride his bike before now.’
And, the next thing I knew, there was my kid. On his bike.
Not what I’d envisioned. At all.
When it was close to dinner-time, I went inside to reheat my frozen burritos, and gather plates and utensils for a picnic in the yard. But, when I opened my plastic-burrito-container, there were only two burritos left. Apparently the professor had been taking them to work for his lunch.
Two burritos….for five people. Four of them, boys? That’s a problem, Houston.
Since the professor wouldn’t be home for at least another hour, I decided to feed the burritos to the boys and figure out something else for the adults. Later. So the boys nibbled on burritos and apple and peach. And then Mr. Johnson came home, earlier than expected. With a ‘what’s for dinner’ look on his face. I pointed to the burrito crumbs on the plate. And handed him a piece of apple. ‘Piece’…because I only had two apples.
After ‘dinner’ we capitalized on the beautiful evening and the pleasant demeanor of our children and went for a walk around the neighborhood that ended with a stop at the playground. Apparently our oldest has some sort of homing instinct when it comes to finding playgrounds.
It was a near perfect afternoon-evening. Except for the fact that I was starving.