Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Living Between Normal

My nights have been spent frantically finishing up graduate applications. I don't have time during the day to do this between homeschooling, dealing with R, and preparing for the two classes I teach. I wait until R is asleep for the night (and this usually occurs on my lap), the beasties are in bed along with H, and I type. I type up more verisons of my Statement of Purpose, my CV as well as dozens of form questions about where I live, how I score on tests, and my general state of fiances (no, sorry Duke,  I am utterly unable to pay my own way through your Ph.D. program). As I do this, I wonder if other mothers have such disparate lives.

If I choose to put my kids in school, got a full time lecturer position or whatever, I would fit in with many of the women I work and study with. It would be normal for me to do this with them. When I decided to have R, one colleague said "But why when you are just about to have all them in school?" I didn't remind her that I home school. I keep that to myself unless asked outright. And sometimes this normal does look very attractive. What would it have been like to have six kid free hours a day? What would I do? I imagine all the work I would accomplish. The articles! The SOPs! The applications completed! Oh my!

I go to the park, on a day when I have to work. We are going to hike. It's wonderful. I enjoy being outside. I enjoy talking about my children. I enjoy not thinking about work. Until I realize it's now a half hour until I have to be on campus so no more sitting on the bench, soaking up the sun. I have to rush off to work. Not so the moms I am with. They are able to stay at the park for another hour. As I hurry suddenly sluggish children down the wooded path, I wonder what it would be like to just focus on the children and homeschooling. Oh to have each day just be about the beasties and their schooling! To not have to worry about correcting or applications or papers! 

Today as I rushed to my mom's house for an impromptu visit, I pondered how I always feel like I'm running into two different directions. Frequently at the same time. Three days of the week, I can't really plan much as I have to go to work. If I do go out, it's this packing nightmare where I have to load the van with not just the beasties' stuff but all of my work stuff as well. Plus lunch for them and dinner for me. I'm usually tired on the days I don't work because I stay up until 2 am working on graduate applications. This is the only time when R is asleep enough for me to concentrate. I wonder sometimes if I'm just giving crap to both lifestyles. Maybe if I just choose one I'd be able to do that lifestyle justice as opposed to always feeling like I'm leaving shit undone. 

And I also wonder if it would make me feel part of one world or the other. Would I have closer relationships with either group if I were to just plant some alliances? If I do go to graduate school, how will I interact with other women in either group? 

Part of me knows that the allure of either world is based largely on fantasy. Many of the women I know in graduate school do not have children. And those who do struggle with the same things I do even with their kids in school. My homeschooling friends confide that things would be easier financially if they worked and as one mom told me a long time ago "I just want to be able to dress like a grown up once in awhile." 


Rachel said...

Just so you know (and I think you realize this), the grass is not as green on the other side as it might seem. My friend who was hiking with us is not a carefree homeschooler who doesn't have to work. She's a single mom (and not a homeschooler). She was working fulltime but is now unemployed, as her job has been outsourced. She is struggling to make ends meet on unemployment. She can't afford COBRA and was turned down for public assistance, so she and her kids have no health insurance.

We never seem to stay in the black month to month. The five of us live in a 2BR, 917sqft condo which, if it could sell, would not get what we paid for it. It wouldn't sell, anyway-- there are currently 12 units in our development for sale. I think we might actually be underwater, but I haven't checked b/c it's too depressing. We desperately want to move but have no money to do so.

Ginger As in Green Tea... said...

Oh I know and I didn't mean to indicate that anyone was carefree. Having the sole focus on homeschooling is not necessairly a care free thing. I think I was saying it is a way to focus your attention on something. I feel like I have two huge focuses in my life and when I take time for one, I end up neglecting the other. I just used the hike as an example because I WANTED to stay with you guys and not go to WORK:P

And it doesn't matter anyway because I have no choice I have to work. WE would never survive if I didn't bring in at least a small income.

Niki said...

I know that for myself, if my attention is too much on any one thing I get stir-crazy and unable to settle, which benefits nobody. While sometimes during midwifery school I fantasized about taking a big break and not having homeschooling plus 60+hours a week of out-of-home work, now that I'm here I find that I'm not accomplishing significantly more and my brain feels more than a little lethargic.