AT RANDOM: Taking it slowly
Like many people with children, I now look back with admiration, awe even, of all that my mother accomplished.
She somehow made it look easy raising three kids, getting a healthy dinner on the table, volunteering at our school and in the community and even squeezing in time for date nights with my dad. I can still remember the scent of her perfume, Je Reviens by Worth, as she got ready for a big night out at The Cave or Isy’s Supper Club, all of us in our jammies and staying home with a babysitter.
She was a stay-at-home mom, a role she enjoyed particularly as her own childhood resembled something out of Angela’s Ashes, but she also didn’t lose herself in the role. She still seemed to always be there for us — and this in the days when we came home for lunch every school day, so it wasn’t as though she had a lot of time to herself.
When my parents took occasional holidays without us, my grandmother would stay with us. Of course, we hated it when they left us at home, but they took us on plenty of holidays, and it probably saved their sanity, their marriage and made them better parents.
As we grew up, Mom began to work on her degree, excelling at her English classes, as well as anthropology and history. It was a deferred dream, as she was young when she and my dad got married and my brother arrived just 11 months later.
I have just one child, and I don’t know how she did it all. And I don’t know how others do it. I am always gently accused of being in a rush at all times. And it’s true, I am.
I feel as though I’m always running at 300 km/hour, trying to squeeze everything in that I need to do in a day.
From making lunch to getting my daughter to school (love those hot lunch days when all I have to pack is a snack), to getting her to dance classes and other activities, it’s a constant scramble. It doesn’t help, probably, that my job involves deadlines and a lot of rushing around.
The guilt I feel at only occasionally being able to help out at school is assuaged slightly by the time we spend together. I am very strict with myself about not going out more than one week night Monday to Friday, as I need to have family time. It might have something to do with the fact that I didn’t have children until later in life, so got the partying out of my system all through my 20s and early 30s.
As children, we always had an extracurricular activity such as piano lessons or figure skating, but we never had them all at the same time.
We seemed to have a better balance between school, after-school activities and free time to simply be. At the end of our street was a huge, wooded area where we played for hours, making up games and coming home covered in mud, tired and happy. Of course, these days most of us wouldn’t let our kids play in the woods without adult supervision or some kind of organized activity involving learning about trees or bark.
I suppose it helped that my mom had time when we were at school to take care of the mundane chores such as grocery shopping. I feel as though I no sooner have my child in the car that we’re racing a cart through the grocery store, then racing home to figure out dinner (on the weeks when I haven’t pre-planned, which is most weeks). By the time we’re home, eaten dinner, done some homework and maybe spent a bit of time together, it’s time for bed.
Unlike me, who started and quit ballet more times than I can count, my daughter is passionate about all of her activities, whether it’s dance, swimming lessons or skiing. I hate to squash that enthusiasm, but my constantly rushing her from one activity to the next isn’t doing her any good, either.
When the weekend rolls around, I am loath to plan anything that starts too early and smacks of week-day rushing. It means we rarely get the first powder of the day at Silver Star, and it means going to church is often put on the back-burner. I want to sit with my coffee, read my book, catch up on the weekend papers and just be until it’s time to leisurely get on with the rest of the day.
We are constantly told how important date night is. Frankly, by the end of a day of rushing around, the last thing I want to do is go out. I’m on the phone or e-mail all day, with people dropping in to see me about one thing or another. So when I get home, I want to put on a pair of comfy PJs, pour a glass of wine and just not rush.
Of course, if the old supper clubs of the ‘60s were still around, I might make an exception. Until then, I’m more likely to have a date with the cast of Coronation Street.
Katherine Mortimer is the lifestyles editor for The Morning Star