Szyperski: The times that must not be namedWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There come times in a family’s life when things just get a little out of control. Or a lot out of control. Or totally, utterly and completely out of control.
These aren’t times we like to talk about. Sure, we may say things like, “We’re pretty busy right now” or “We’ve got a lot going on.” However, such moderate summations are oh so far from the ugly, messy, usually-too-embarrassing-for-public-admission truth.
Yet, here it goes anyway.
Let me preface my recent home life fail confession by saying that we don’t entirely have it together to begin with. We’re not super organized or clean or good at sitting down to dinner or going to bed at a decent hour. We’re almost always involved in 12 to 87 different things and our main constant in life is inconsistency, which we’ll just call “flexibility” for fun. We are pretty much the antithesis of every “How to Have a Healthy Family Life” magazine article out there, but it somehow generally works for us anyway.
This latest bout of true family fiasco, however, started about nine months ago when my husband and I welcomed into the world two healthy, bouncing careers leaps. Yes, just as our children were aging into self-sufficiency and we thought life might finally ease up just a tad, it didn’t. We were both suddenly thrust into new work lives on top of our already 24-hour-a-day parenting gig, which can be a little tricky when it happens all at once.
Having an occupation almost exclusively at home doesn’t bode well for professionalism. I am still on duty at the stay-at-home-mom dream job I’ve held for over a decade; I just now have another full-on job to do literally at the exact same time. Such dual-action duty means taking conference calls in a locked bedroom next to a giant pile of dirty laundry and pushing back deadlines for things like one to three kids home sick or yet another last-minute house showing.
Oh, yes, did I mention that we also put our house up for sale? It only makes sense to put yourself in the position to have to have your house clean at a moment’s notice when this is the least available to clean you’ve ever been in your entire life. In actuality, we have been anything but clean as of late. We manage to get the job done when we absolutely need to (e.g., a house showing), but our record for generalized orderliness has also fallen into the sanitary emergency status quite a bit.
If I’m admitting to piles of crap in our life, I might add that we went without grocery store food for a long time, a really, really long time. I don’t mean like an extra few days or even a couple of weeks. Save for some milk and a tub of butter at some point, we went without a major grocery haul for well over a month at my best guesstimate. Maybe two.
We didn’t quite realize it until we had spent an embarrassing amount of money on eating out (like enough to have fed a small village for quite some time). If our bank account wasn’t evidence enough, the take-out graveyard in our minivan certainly was. Months of travel soccer, house selling and dozens of other busiest-time-of-the-year events took a major toll on our car life too.
We steadily created our version of “Hoarders,” “Hoarders on the Road.” My normal six-kid vehicle capacity quickly shrunk to less than our required three-seat minimum. There were times I actually considered taking more than one trip to pick up kids at school just to avoid slogging all of the post-house showing stuff back out of the car to uncover enough seatbelts.
As if watching our house, time, money and personal space swiftly slip away due to unintentional neglect wasn’t enough, it happened. We lost school too.
Just when I thought we might finally be getting the hang of everything, a friend posted a picture of her son on Facebook dressed as his book report character. Book report? That’s not until November 11th, and November 11th isn’t until…two days ago.
“Was your book report due two days ago?” I nervously asked my second grader. “What’s a book report?” she replied as honest and as curious as could be. Ball dropped. Ball dropped hard.
It happens to even the best of us, and especially to the already mediocre of us. When we have several dozen balls in the air and only two hands to keep them up, we’re bound to drop quite a few. It’s the nature of the hardworking beast. I’m not proud of these most inattentive of moments in our family life, but I have faith that, as always, they are only temporary.
Shannon Szyperski and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at letters@toledo freepress.com.