When you're writing for a parenting magazine, you probably should know what parenting is all about. I thought about this for a while — actually I think about it all of the time, and I define parenting, in our house, as an ongoing socioeconomic and political research project that creates more questions than it generates solutions. As a parent, you're faced with new challenges, new reasons to conduct trials — and your children are such willing subjects. Our research has been tested and proven completely inconclusive.
Sounds real smart, huh? I periodically try to sound smart because people expect me to have all of the answers since I have 5 children. How can I know the answers if I can't sit still and uninterrupted long enough to know the questions? I don't even know what I'm writing about most of the time.
Today's Interruption #1
Cute, sleepy 4-year-old walks into office. "Mommy, is it lappy time yet?"
"No, honey, Mommy's working right now and it's 6:30 a.m. You need some more sleep."
With a light kiss on the cheek and a half-smile, she says, "OK, Mommy. Have good work."
Because I work from home and I've worked from home periodically for most of my children's lives, they really don't know when computer time is work or when it's just e-mail. Now that I'm returning to a more public career — my second book will be in the hands of an agent this week and I've been asked to write a third book on homeschooling — my family is in the midst of transition, well honestly, in the middle of total meltdown. And it's more important than ever that I set some work boundaries. So I enlisted opinions from my two older children.
DD: I don't think a sign that says you're at work will work because the little kids can't read.
Me: OK, I'll put a picture on there and I'll explain to them what the picture means.
DS: But what about when you're on the phone? Isn't that sometimes work?
Me: Yes, honey, so do you think I need a sign for that?
DS: No, that's too many signs, too much stuff to remember. I think you need an office somewhere.
Evicted from my own house. (I have to limit my oldest son's exposure to The Apprentice because he thinks all offices look like The Donald's office.)
Enter the early bird, my 6-year-old love machine. "Mommy, can I go and play a video game?"
"Honey, today is a school day, so you have to start your morning routine and I'll be with you shortly."
"It's 7:48 a.m. and I don't want to start school. I thought you'd be done writing."
With a stern look at my middle son, I repeat, "You have to start your morning routine and I'll be with you shortly."
Did I mention that we started school yesterday? I spent all summer reading, researching, deciding what we were going to learn this year. I couldn't allow another week to go by while my children were being attacked by Summer Brain. Since this is a week earlier than area students, I was prepared from some resistance.
"Awl, man. We have to start school today." Oldest son, age 8, swings his head in this downward motion like his neck is broken.
"Yeah, school. I'm one of the big kids." My 4-year-old daughter is so excited.
My oldest son whispers loudly, "Niara don't get excited. School is horrid."
I guess I should take pride in the fact that he knew what horrid meant and that he used it in its proper context. I'll try not to get offended by his assessment. Yah, like that's possible.
A hand smacking me on my knee while the other hand is typing on the computer keyboard. Those same hands are now rubbing the big, round eyes of the BBB (bighead bigcheeked baby). He pushes his little body between me and the computer, climbs on my lap and plants a big wet one on my cheek.
When I look into his eyes, I see the child that most represents an even genetic exchange between my husband and me. Look at him once, I see me. Two seconds later, I see my husband. Kissing his fat cheeks makes me forget about what I was supposed to be doing or what I was even writing. Let me scroll back up to the top and see.
Hmmm...looks like a normal day full of multi-conversating and multi-interruptions. I think that's what parenting today is all about.