There is this pattern everyone expects. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers all require near-constant supervision. It is a very time-intensive and hands on portion of the parenting experience. Then they go to school and the middle of the day hours open up. Parents have space and rest that they’ve sacrificed for five years (or seven, or ten, depending on how many kids you have and how they’re spaced.) Of course the reality is that the “free” time is almost always immediately filled with something else. In my case, work flowed right in and used up all the available time. Going back to work is often something a primary care parent does once the kids are in school. Other parents become more active at the school, which is where PTA committees come from. I’m quite grateful to the parents who volunteer in this way. They make the world better for all the kids. I thought I’d be one of them, that hasn’t happened.
What I did not expect was that in the past year my teenagers have required a lot of parenting during work hours. This has been particularly true since January when we’ve gone to a ¾ homeschooling scheduled for Link. I no longer get to turn off my parenting brain for five hours and let it rest until the kids get home. Link gets home about twenty minutes after Patch leaves for school. Lately getting the kids out the door requires focused attention from 6:30am until 8:45am. Then Link gets home. Some days, the good ones, he just goes to work and I work and Howard works. Other days I feel like I spend all day being aware that Link is not working, or arguing with him, trying to convince him that he really can get some work done. Or giving up on my work and sitting down with him for an hour to figure out why he’s blocked over an assignment that looks very simple on the surface of it.
I really miss having a solid block of working hours. I don’t need six in a row, I’d just love to have well defined territories for the parts of my life. As it is I’m not getting enough sleep because the only time when my parenting brain turns off is after I’ve coaxed all the teenagers into going to bed. I’m back to being sleep deprived and hands-on with parenting. It is not what I expected at this stage.