i have no idea what to call this post

Next week school starts, which is of course the Big Topic around here, at least for parents and teachers. Those of us with first time kindergarteners are both anxious and excited. Since Anya will be in part-time preschool this fall as well, I might actually have a little time to get some things done...maybe.

I had hoped to be able to pick up some more paying work accompanying, most likely at the UW SOM (school of music), but today as I thought through our weekly schedule for the school year, I realized that I won't have much time at all. For one thing, those of us parents who don't work a full-time paying job outside the home are expected to put in some volunteer hours. I am not at all opposed to this, of course, because I believe parental involvement is really important for a successful educational system. With one kid in elementary school and another in a separate preschool, this means I'll have to put in double the hours. On top of that, the education system in Wisconsin has borne the brunt of some pretty severe budget cuts, which means cuts in staff and programs, so the schools are more dependent on parent volunteers than ever.

What it comes down to is this: I'll be lucky if I end up with more than one part of an afternoon every week to get any work done. This is very frustrating to me and makes me wonder if I should just give up on the idea of ever finding paying work in my field that is worthwhile. I ran into a friend of mine today who has two kids roughly the same age as mine (one starting kindergarten, one starting preschool) with the same school schedule, and we were lamenting the lack of free time we'd actually have and I said, "Maybe I should just drop the idea of trying to find work and just go running instead," to which she replied, "Well, that's my whole plan."

Equally frustrating to me is the feeling that with the economy being what it is, I should be grateful for what I have and just keep my pretty little mouth shut about my own problems. I have two beautiful children, a roof over my head and a husband with a stable job, so what right do I have to complain? I do, honestly, feel guilty about this, because I suppose there are people who envy my position. But here's the flip side: I'm 32 and all I've ever been in my adult life is a student and a mother with just enough actual professional gigs to make me almost a grown-up. I'm starting to feel like my chance to have my own ambition and career and adventure is past and gone and now it's time for me to move aside and do what I can for my kids and hope they turn out okay. It's a frustrating and lonely thought.

And now that I have bared my soul to the internet, I'm going to switch gears completely and get back to the crafting. Which is something I do in all that vast free time that I have, you know.

I want to do some sewing this fall. Summer kind of took some of the knitting mojo out of me for some reason (we had a couple of hot spells, so maybe that was it), and while I didn't stop knitting entirely, I did slow down a little. I am, however, working diligently, if slowly, on a sweater for Anya, as per her request. She wants "a brown sweater with a zipper," and because she is my sweet daughter who loves everything I make for her, a brown sweater with a zipper she shall have. Here it is so far:

I've got about 1.25 sleeves, plus the hood, i-cord edging and a zipper installation to go. If I don't get distracted with other knitting projects, it ought to be done by the time she needs it for cool fall weather.

Next on the laundry list (yuk yuk):

Corduroy and flannel, flannel and corduroy. I love a good corduroy. I bought some in a couple colors to make Anya some pants, and enough red to make a jacket for me, which is probably waaaay ambitious, but if I want to learn to sew for myself, I've got to learn somehow. The flannel is to make PJ pants for Daniel. I've just given up on finding acceptable PJs for him, and until he asserts a stronger opinion about wanting to wear branded (re: ugly) pajamas, I'm going to buy plain undershirts and make the pants myself.

What's on your to-do list for fall?


revknits said…
Ah, sounds like you are "in the middle" right now - still a lot of time devoted to kids, but little windows opening, but not enough. Lot's of people reinvent themselves in their mid-thirties and forties, so don't think that this won't happen.

I guess I'm puzzled by the "I have to volunteer because I don't work full-time" - I mean, if you planned to work part-time, then that time is not "free" for volunteering. In other words, I agree that involvement in schools is terrific, but valuing your own time is also important.

For fall - I'll be working on some sweaters - a couple of them, at least one of my own design. And make long PJ pants since my experiment with short ones worked well.
Jessi said…
It's frustrating no matter what side you are on. There is just never enough time, that's what I'm figuring out.

My fall to do's include crafting some Christmas gifts, improving my cooking skills, making a metric tonne of baby shower presents and trying to get and keep my miserable house clean. Some nights I just walk in and want to turn around and walk back out.
Julie said…
I hear you. Funny, when I read your comments about being 32, my mind went to "only 32" and who knows what sort of fulfillment lies in your future. It's so hard to predict how this transition will be for you -- go easy on yourself, is my unsolicited advice. My oldest son went through kindergarten in Madison last year, and I played board or card games every other week with small groups of kids and loved it. I also sent in healthy snacks when I could. Some teachers are more receptive to help than others. I did what I could and had to be satisfied with that.

For fall, I'm going to do some small low-cost house projects to perk things up...line the curtains, cover our lame couch pillows, make some new napkins and placemats...things that are always on my list but never get done. Carpe autumn!
Shel said…
Boy, do I ever wish we lived closer and I could sit down with you over a cup of tea and have a long deep chat. I am 54 and am realizing more and more how my chances to do those things I would want to do to really be satisfied at this point in my life and to be secure have passed, and I cannot go back and change decisions made at 32. Don't pooh pooh these thoughts or feel guilty over thinking of where you want to be going in your own career. This is an important time in that it could really decide your contentment with your life later.
I know your family is your life and you have a wonderful family - but things have a way of changing in ways you never anticipate and if you have left your future and your security in the hands of someone else completely, you put yourself and your children in the position of being completely insecure if something went wrong. I was a divorce lawyer for 16 years and I cannot tell you how many women find themselves in a terrible situation when the person they counted on just left. I'm not saying that is you - I am saying that a lack of independence can devastate a person if there is no one to be dependent upon.
Find those things that make you feel the most centered and grounded and happy and secure. Think of what you would need to be doing to take care of all of you if something happened to your beloved husband. Get back on that path. That is the best thing you can do for your kids. You will find time to do some for the kids at school too. Remember, you are not the only mom in the school.
Sorry if this seems long or lecturing. I don't mean to. I guess I just wish someone had told me some of this at 32.

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