Her wheels are falling off already. They always do.
We’re not even one week into February and already I feel like I’m spinning way too many plates.
You know, like this:
I often have that image in my head of my life.
It resonates more with me than the idea of juggling balls but the premise is the same.
You’re trying to do a bunch of things simultaneously and just when you think, “hey, I’ve got this”, a plate starts to wobble. You rush over to steady it and two more instantly begin wobbling.
Before you can get to them, you notice three more plates that need your attention. And that’s when you hear the first plate fall to the ground, followed by others.
Some smash into pieces, others kind of bounce and roll away as you dash madly from one to another feeling like you’re going insane because YOU CANNOT KEEP ALL THE PLATES SPINNING AT ONCE AND SOMEONE NEEDS TO HELP ME OR AT LEAST GET ME A PIECE OF CAKE.
That’s been my last 48 hours. The sound of wobbling, smashing plates.
The year started promisingly enough. It always does. Sure, I leave it till the last minute to buy new school shoes for the kids and I always forget to check if my daughter’s uniform needs taking down (it always does) but I pat myself warmly on the back with both hands because I remember to buy new lunchboxes. As if the act of buying them will magically correspond to them filling themselves up each day, every day. For the rest of the school year. If only.
But every year I forget about the crunch of gears as a family we adjust from the unscheduled, unstructured, unhurried bliss of the holidays to the regimented stress of the school year. We do it in phases. First we come back from holidays. Then the adults go back to work. And finally, the kids return to school and we accelerate dramatically into maximum difficulty.
The crunch comes hard and fast. I forget how the children hate to be hurried in the morning, hate to be late. I forget what a terrible judge of time I am and how incompatible these two things are. There are tears. Anxieties surface – the kids’ and mine. New friends, routines, teachers. Re-establishing after-school activities. Returning to normal bedtimes. Returning to stricter rules around screen time. Re-establishing homework routines. Drop-off and pick-up arrangements. After-school care and extracurricular activities. Sports teams and sports uniforms.
Everything jangles in my brain, flabby from underuse after a long relaxing summer break. I’m not match-fit. My husband resumes a familiar competition called “I am busier than you are” where there are no winners. Only martyrs.
I’m drowning in contact and yet I take a perverse pleasure in covering piles of school books night after night because that’s one achievement that can be measured. Bubbles be damned.
And the notes. The new systems. The packing and unpacking of school bags and washing of school uniforms. The losing of hats. The parent-teacher orientations and introductory meetings. The anxious monitoring of friendships, the reaching out to other mothers and the organising of playdates.