When I started this blog, I promised that it would be a lively place, with lots of posts. I promptly broke that promise and have been blogging infrequently at best. Part of why I broke the promise was because I got a long-term semi-permanent gig, which is every contract lawyer's dream. I'm still my own boss: I can take on other work if I have the time and the desire, I can continue to work from home unless my client wants me in the office, and I have the continued flexibility to deal with the children's needs as they arise. What I don't have any more is time. My time used to be an ebb and flow thing. Some weeks would be insanely crazy when I had a big project, and some weeks would be scarily peaceful, when no clients called. It was during those weeks that I blogged. Now, I'm always busy.
Perhaps if it was only my work that had gotten busy, I could still find time to come to this site and pour my heart out on a regular basis about all the interesting things contract attorneys can do, the hurdles they face, and the problems they can solve. With Murphy Law's precision, however, just as my work amped up, so too did the domestic demands on my time. I call it the curse of affluence.
When I was a child, my immigrant parents hung in there by the skin of their teeth. Our economic situation could best be described in the same terms Mr. Micawber used when explaing the secret of happiness to David Copperfield: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." Translate that fine economic line into dollars, and you have my childhood.
In a way, the absence of money made things simple. My parents struggled, and my sister and I went to school. We had one after school athletic activity and one musical activity, for a total of two hours a week -- and that was it. It helped that my sister and I weren't very gifted when it came to either sports or music. No coach or teacher ever had the urge to try to guilt my overworked and overspent parents into pouring more time and money into anything extracurricular.
Things are different with my children. While my husband and I are not rich (more's the pity), we also are fortunate in that we don't live on the economic razor's edge that plagued my parents. We can afford the (take a deep breath here as I begin my list): indoor soccer, outdoor soccer, baseball, swimming, boys chorus, girls chorus, martial arts, girl scouts, and whatever else that comes along. It takes a bite, but we can afford it.
Things are also different with my children when it comes to talent. They both run like the wind, the boy can hit a ball, the girl can swim like a fish, the boy can punch and kick, and both sing like angels. Neither my husband nor I can quite grasp the genetic source for all these talents, but we are appreciative nevertheless.
So where's the curse part? It sounds so good that they're talented and that we can afford to cultivate those talents. The curse comes with the logistics behind the activities. It's simple math: two children, a minimum of 12 practice and game times scattered throughout the week, and just one of me. I depend heavily -- very heavily -- on carpools, but even with carpools, I spend an inordinate amount of time driving in circles. One memorable day, the driving started at 1 p.m. (picking up and delivering a forgotten music folder) and ended at 8:30 p.m. (when one child's school open house finally wrapped up). In the intervening 7.5 hours, I drove 50 miles, spent 2.5 hours in traffic, rescued a pit bull (don't ask), stuffed various types of unhealthy food into all family members (except for the dog, who got her usual delicious kibble), and transferred 5 children, other than my own, to various destinations.
Days like that (which are frequent enough to justify all the gray hairs I'm sprouting) have two types of fallout. The first, as I noted at the beginning of this post, is that I don't have time to blog. Heck, I barely have time to brush my teeth.
The other fallout is that I become desperate just to get a way from it all.
None of the tasks I do, taken individually, is very arduous. Taken all together, though, they become completely overwhelming. For a long time, I had this fantasy that I got very sick. It was a peculiar sickness, though. It had no symptoms, BUT (and this "but" is the important part) the only way to treat it was for me to stay in bed and have other people feed me. I dreamt this constantly, especially when I was sitting in motionless traffic, worrying about all the kids waiting for me.
One day, while at the bus stop with the other Moms, waiting for the bus to come and the afternoon insanity to begin, I confided my illness fantasy to the group. After everyone was done laughing (and, I must say, sympathizing), one of the Moms turned to me and said, "You don't need to get sick, honey. You need to go to a spa."
Wow! A spa! I was at a spa once, long before I had kids. It was lovely, and I wasn't even that tired when I went there. The room was beautiful. The furnishings were comfortable and sophisticated, the bed was piled with soft blankets and pillows, and the view out the window was verdant and rich. The bathroom had all these lovely products that smelled good and promised to make me soft and beautiful. (Of course, since I hadn't yet had kids, I was already soft and beautiful.) There was a crystal blue swimming pool, surrounded by brilliant green grass. Scattered about were cabanas where you could get a massage. If you were feeling energetic, there was a fully outfitted exercise room and, if you felt decadent, there was a salon with all types of beauty treatments. Being there was a treat for the senses.
Since getting sick is not an option, I've started taking that Mom's advice to heart. Wouldn't it be lovely to get away? I wouldn't want to go on my own, though. For one thing, I'd be lonely, since I'm a sociable creature. Not wanting to go alone, though, doesn't mean I'd want my family with me. Much as I love them, the whole point of the spa would be to get away from the family -- and to let them get a small taste of life without me. Instead, I'd want to go with friends, two or three gals who experience the same stresses I do, and who would appreciate just as much as I do the chance to stay in bed, get massages, get fed, and have fun -- all without having to get sick first.
To feed my fantasy, I check out travel sites. My favorite is Uptake, which has an unusually friendly interface, combining articles (with pictures!), and a search engine that helps me find glorious vacation spots, both with and without kids.
One of these days I'll get to that spa. Right now, though, I just work, drive and dream.