Life is so full of “stuff to do.” I often think back to the time before I had kids and I long for all my “free time” to come back. Weekends are great because they mean a break from work; however, there is nothing “relaxing” about weekends at my house.
1. There is no sleeping in. When we only had A., DH and I would take turns sleeping in on one morning of the weekend while the other would occupy A. At least there was a little break there. However, with two kids, there is no longer an option to time-share the kids. There is just too much running around and attention that needs to be paid to each child. So, while I normally crawl out of bed between 6:15 and 6:30 during the week (and soon to be earlier when I get to rotations such as general surgery and obstetrics), I’m lucky if I can “sleep in” until 7:00 on the weekends.
2. Cooking food is not an option; it is a necessity. While we might be able to get one, maybe two, meals over the weekend at a restaurant (and the first is usually McDonalds), this is not ideal or affordable for our life-situation. Unfortunately (for me), these little people need to eat… 3+ times a day… preferably something nutritious. Sadly, a sandwich is also only good for one more of these meals so I am required to cook… all the time. In fact, on weekends like this (when it is -40 or colder outside), we eat all meals at home. So this weekend I felt like I was in the kitchen ALL DAY either cooking or loading/unloading the dishwasher. (What’s that you say? I chose to bake banana bread… I shouldn’t complain about being in the kitchen all day… You mean, I decided to do something for myself??? Well, I take it back then…)
3. There is no such thing as “nap time.” Sure, both the boys take naps. Unfortunately, it is a very rare occasion when both boys are sleeping at the same time, for longer than a 20 minute stretch. The odd time it does happen, DH and I are usually so dumbfounded that we have no clue what to do with ourselves. This point actually reminds me of something I heard from a patient this week:
My sister-in-law took the kids for us once… We had no idea what to do with ourselves so we went to Tim’s and got a coffee and then walked around Walmart…
Anyway, I digress. Even when one boy is napping, it becomes an opportunity for DH or I (not both) to get something productive done. In my case, I am forced to choose between (a) taking a nap myself or (b) running errands without the kids in tow (if you have children, you know how valuable this opportunity can be). Yesterday I tried for the nap – I got 45 min before DH came rushing in and plopped a cranky baby on my chest. Today I opted for the running of errands… even the cold weather couldn’t stop me. Sometimes when DH has stuff to get done, I get to do neither. On weekends when an exam is looming, this time is automatically allocated to studying.
4. Quiet? What’s this “quiet” you talk about? Seriously. My house is never quiet between the hours of 7:00 am and 8:00 pm. And, sometimes even longer. In fact, there are often so many different sounds all happening at once that I can’t even keep them straight… and I often have a headache. There is exersaucer music, baby crying/screaming, toddler yelling/singing/crying/running around like a banshee, some sort of kids TV program/music, DH talking to me or one of the kids (or cursing about something), and then me trying to focus on something. Sometimes I will conjure up unnecessary errands just so I have an excuse to get out of the house so that I can attempt to experience “quiet.”
5. The usual stuff: Cleaning, Laundry, Dishes, Tidying, Groceries… … (Yes, that required two ellipses). Since I am not a SAHM, none of these things gets done to any meaningful degree during the week. Therefore, DH and I have to fit them into our “days off” (if you don’t know why I enclosed that in quotation marks, you are missing the point of this post). Now, I will admit to having a housekeeper. However, she only comes once every 5-6 weeks (that’s all we can afford to pay her from our line of credit). Since she is rarely here, we reserve the big stuff for her: Dusting, scrubbing, washing the floors, whole-house vacuuming, disinfecting the washrooms… etc. If you are judging me for only having these things done once every 5-6 weeks, then it’s probably a good thing that we don’t know each other in person. I would LOVE to have my housekeper come more often. Unfortunately, my med student debt is already going to cripple me for a significant part of my foreseeable future… I am trying not to make it worse. So with that in mind, I should clarify that I do not hire anyone to do any of the other normal and necessary chores that are required for a house to run somewhat smoothly.
When I step back from the chaos that is my life, I am generally happy with how things are: I love my kids, I love my husband, we are all healthy, happy, and provided for. I love that I have the opportunity to study medicine and that I have a career to look forward to that I know I’ll love. However, sometimes I really miss the “good old days” (the kind where you could pee calmly, without knowing that a baby was screaming somewhere in his crib). I would even settle for just living in the same city as my mother so that I would have someone with whom I could leave my kids for a day or two and just relax (and not have to pay some teenager $100 to do it). I keep telling myself that the day will come when it will all slow down again and life won’t feel so hectic. At this point, however, I’m not so sure that it will ever come.