Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Three for one

The other morning I arrived in my office exhausted.  Who am I kidding, most every morning I arrive exhausted, flop down into my desk chair with a cup of coffee and let out a big sigh of relief.  Relief that I have survived the first of my three-in-one days.  See, I, like most working mothers, manage to fit the work of three days into a single 24 hour period.  It's like magic except that it isn't a trick and it just takes every bit of energy I can muster.  And then, instead of applause at the end of the amazing feat, my grand accomplishment is celebrated with me flopping into bed and breathing a sigh of relief for having survived the third of my three-in-one day.  Let me explain.

Until the other morning, I didn't have a concept of a three-in-one day.  I just thought of it as, well, being really really tired.  So that morning, having flopped into my office chair with my cup of coffee and my second conference call already in progress, let out my sigh of relief,  I logged into Facebook and posted this. "by the time I get to work, I usually feel like I have already done a full day of chores."  And pretty much immediately my mom friends responded.  The one that resonated was from geekymummy, she wrote "Because you have. I feel the same. I have three days every day."  Thus was born the idea of a three-in-one.

Here's how mine works.  I start my morning with my good wife/mother day.  I wake up.  I start the coffee and unload the dishwasher.  I then pack lunches for the boys and, if I'm being particularly efficient, I'll pack lunches for Mr. Dog and myself too.  Once the coffee is made, I fix a cup for me and bring a cup into the bedroom to wake Mr. Dog.  I take the veggie and fruit trimmings from making the lunches out to the chickens, and if the dogs aren't too settled in front of the heaters, I take the dogs out with me for them to do what dogs do first thing in the morning (and yes, we all know what it is).  If I'm making good time, I'll throw a load of laundry into the washer, cold wash only so I don't use up the hot water for my shower.  Once lunches are safely stowed in the boys' backpacks, I swing by the bed to remind Mr. Dog that he does actually have to get out of bed in order for it to qualify as getting up and then I jump in the shower.  If I'm lucky, and I usually am, Mr. Dog gets up and wakes the boys.  One of us makes breakfast for the kids, we get their clothes out and nag them until they are dressed, fed and ready to head to school.  Frequently, I have will call into my first conference call of the day before we leave the house. Getting them to the car takes a fair amount of cajoling, but if I see the kids at the corner waiting for the school bus, I know we are not running too late.  My boys don't go to our neighborhood school, so the bus is not an option for us.  I drive the boys to school, picking up late passes in the office if our morning routine was running behind, deliver Little Dog to his classroom then make the drive to the office.  Once I'm in my office, probably still in a conference call on my mobile, I flop into my office chair and day one ends.

Day two is my day of being a successful manager at a large software company.  I make sure my projects are on schedule, my staff is happy and well directed, I put out many urgent but purely metaphorical fires and help our business run smoothly.  I'm good at this.  It is not always paradise, but it is fulfilling and I enjoy the work that I do, which is good because it is usually pretty hectic and I spend a lot of time running from meeting to meeting dealing with a seemingly non-stop parade of things that need to be done right now despite the fact that other things were scheduled to be done in the time I am now using to solve this new crop of problems.  Depending on the day of the week, I leave the office in time to either pick the boys up from their after school programs or get to my Pilates class on time.  Once I slide into the driver's seat of my station wagon, I breath a second sigh of relief for surviving my second day of my three-in-one (though frequently I bring work home with me in the evening because working in an international company means co-workers working round the clock in other time zones).  I flip on the radio and listen to the news on NPR as I begin my third.

My third day begins with either with the escape of Pilates or the bustling of children from after school program into the car and then home.  This day is the one dedicated to family togetherness. Once safely home, the kitchen is re-tidied from the breakfast making to clear space for evening meal preparation.  With the boys in the living room, I make dinner.  We eat, make sure homework is complete then there is a short time for relaxation with the family.  Bedtime for the boys is preceded by tooth brushing, bathing if it happens to be bath night, glasses of water and reminders to use the toilet before they get into bed because they like to stall the actual process of going to sleep with demands for beverages and trips to the bathroom.  On alternating nights, Mr. Dog or I am responsible for actually getting the kids to bed and to sleep.  This starts with reading time (where they read to us) then story time (where we read to them) and then finally sleep.  While one parent tends to the children, the other is allowed some quiet time though frequently this becomes time used to clean the kitchen and then take the dogs out for the last time in the evening.  By the time this is done, there is usually about enough time for me to stick the last few dishes into the dishwasher and set it to run as I head off to sleep.  I flop into bed after my own nightly face washing and tooth brushing routine, giving my third sigh of the evening.  And then there is just barely enough sleep to get me set up to do it again tomorrow.

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