I have a routine for each day of the week, but sometimes I say "Oh, screw this" and blow it all off for a few hours.
I am not one of those magazine people who says "Plans? Schedule? What-EV" and instead of doing math or hauling everyone to music lessons or folding all the laundry, spontaneously curls up on the couch with a lapful of children and reads stories all morning, or goes to the park and plays tag, or bakes charmingly unkempt cookies, smiling knowingly as she checks herself in the mirror and removes a dab of frosting from her cheek.
I'm more apt to throw out the schedule so I can work on some intense project I've been putting off, not so much because the project needs to be done, or needs to be done by me, but because I miss concentrating intently on something that requires concentration.
It's all about me. It's about the pleasure I get from that kind of work.
I get to say to the children, "Go away. I'm working."
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But after it's over I usually have a sort of bad taste in my mouth, because I don't have the same things to show for my morning that I would have had if I had stuck to the plan.
We have lunch. I make the kids help me clean up. I put on a pot of coffee. I breathe a sigh of relief. Sanity has been restored to my environment:
... here too, at the desk...
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I would be a better parent and teacher if I didn't need quiet, tidiness, and silence for some scrap of time in the middle of the day. Undoubtedly.
But I would be a worse parent and teacher if I didn't recognize that need and make it happen.
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We have lunch around 12:30, finish cleaning up around 1:15, and I try to start up again around 2. A lot of homeschoolers manage to be done by two, but not us. It isn't that I'm not a morning person. I am a morning person.
That's exactly why I hate to spend my morning homeschooling the kids.
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Anyway -- I feel a lot better at two o'clock, starting from the freshly-tidied first floor. If I get the chance to tidy before bed -- so that I come downstairs to a similar scene, first thing in the morning -- so much the better. When all that distracting clutter is cleared away, I can blog, or write letters, or plan -- I feel like I can get so much done before the coffee pot is empty.
I try, but it doesn't always happen. Instead of sweeping up, I sit and have a beer with my husband after the kids go to bed. Or I read a bedtime story. Or I try to get the three-year-old to go to sleep first, and I fall asleep next to him.
None of these things are bad, of course. One choice is not better or worse than the other. They all have their merits.
So hard, sometimes, to be serene about choices. I want all the benefits of all the possible things I could do with my time. I hate letting go of any of them. I always long for the things that were incompatible with the choice I made.
I can see why meaningless, circular affirmations like "It is what it is" are popular. What they really mean is a sort of "Oh, well" -- a refusal to be bothered by the way things turned out. It all comes down to acceptance --
-- a word that has many different meanings, depending on its object, all of which come down to "receiving willingly or agreeably."
My time is a gift; I've chosen to use it a certain way; I've received a certain set of circumstances as a direct result of my choices -- so I've received circumstances I've chosen; I acknowledge a truth, that I can't have the might-have-beens.
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Here's the deal. I had a jumbly sort of morning because we left the kitchen in disarray before going to bed last night.
(Don't tell me that I don't have to let kitchen disarray jumble my morning. It's what happens.)
We left the kitchen in disarray because we stayed up late, chatting over doppelbock, after the kids had gone to bed. Even the little one had fallen asleep, nursing, in my lap.
We stayed up late because we started late, and we started late because I spent almost two hours that evening going to the gym. I went because I wanted to say that I made it to the gym three times this week, instead of the two times that's been far more common lately. And because skiing last week hurt my legs more than it did when I was exercising more. And because Mark offered to deal with dishes and bedtime snack so I could go. I went for that long because I wanted to feel the ache that comes from swimming a mile in forty-five minutes.
I chose all those good things instead of a distraction-free morning, and I need to be thankful for them -- accept them graciously -- rather than complain.
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And now that I've finished my afternoon coffee -- and taken time to think clear thoughts -- it's time for me to get up and call the kids for math. I think I'm ready now. Are you?