If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris

30 September, 2018

The Poetry of Life

"I'd rather be knitting." ~ Me

"The poetry of life always has a practical side to it, and most practical affairs rightly worked out are full of poetry."
(Lippincott's Home Manuals ~Housewifery by L Ray Balderston, A.M. ~ 1919)

In the midst of wearing more hats than the cap salesman  in Esphyr-Slobodkina's 'Caps for Sale,' (which was one of my older son's most favorite books when he was little) and feeling more like the monkey than the cap salesman, I took a few minutes to take a break and post on more pleasant and comforting mundane things.

In case you haven't noticed, America seems to be in awful state right now, so I'm not complaining for the gift of being rather busy.  Very busy in fact and very glad to be so.

The school year usually means a return to 'the busy,' but this year is particularly so, as I myself am also back to a full class load, partially on-line and in person, including a full-day Saturday Anatomy and Physiology class. So, my days go somewhat like this:

Monday through Saturday, alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m, and I am up by my second alarm at 4:45.  Monday through Friday, I get up and prepare husband's breakfast and oldest son's.  I also prepare their lunches.  I get them off to work and school, and most days both are gone by 6:30.  My husband's schedule varies.  Saturdays I get up and prepare breakfast for everyone to leave out for when they get up, eat, get myself together and leave for class at 7:00 a.m, waking my husband up when I go.

Sundays, I allow myself the luxury of sleeping in until 6 a.m. I prepare everyone's breakfast, try to slow down a little and plan my day.

Monday, my younger son who I home school, is normally at his father's house doing his schoolwork there.  That is my day to run errands, make appointments, get groceries or work on my own home work.  I get my older son off the bus every day around 2:30 or so.  and on Monday's he goes to his father's that night for dinner.   I still have my husband's dinner to prepare. Monday is also my baking and meal prep day if I'm going to make anything ahead.  I've hopefully planned our menu the afternoon before on Sunday.

Tuesday through Friday I normally have both children staying with me.  The youngest gets up around 8, has his breakfast (which I normally make, but he sometimes prefers to grab his own,) and does his morning routine and begins his schoolwork which is in a planner prepared each week by me on Sunday afternoons. He is fairly independent in most cases, and about half the things we go over together. He also takes some classes on-line.

I have the house cleaning and laundry broken out to a few items a day so I'm not overwhelmed. If I stick to this I'm in relatively good shape.  The dogs and birds get daily care.

Assuming there are no pressing mid-week appointments, I start the day with the making of the beds (my younger son makes his own), start any laundry if it's a laundry day, tidy the upstairs and baths, and then check the calendar, take anything from the freezer or prep for dinner if needed, have my own breakfast if I haven't already, and get to work.

I work most of the day on my own course work and household things that need to be done.  Because I'm up so early, I strive for at least a 20 minute nap in the early afternoon.  That doesn't always happen.  I try to shower either just before bed, or first thing in the morning after my husband and older son have left and my little one wakes up.   Then the afternoon is bus duty, more school work of my own and then dinner preparation and clean up.  My husband and sons do help where they can.

Bills, appointments, extra-curricular activities are all in the digital and paper calendars.  I have a third weekly calendar where I note what assignments I have due.

By Friday, my sons are either with me or their father every other weekend.  During the school semester, most of the weekend will be spent on coursework for me. When I have the boys, I try to keep that to early mornings and later evenings and make sure we have some fun time together.  I am of course in class on Saturdays from 8-2 from now through the Spring semester.

On Sundays, my boys are normally with their father and I try to visit a hospice patient if I have one.  I also do my weekly calendar, meal planning and my son's lesson plans for the week (which I've already prepared ahead of time during the summer months.)
Somewhere in there I try to rest.

I don't know that I've quite reached the level of poetry, but I have at least established a mostly reliable routine. My sons and husband do their share, and my youngest is learning to help with the cooking where he can.  (A blessing for his future wife.)

In between I squeeze in a bit of gardening, and was able to put up some elder flower and elderberry and wild black raspberry goodies this year, the Rumptof of course and hope to dry a batch of hops for tea, and I also to keep up with the inevitable little touches that make a house a home.

I have learned the hard way to let nothing wait until tomorrow if I can help it.  I planned for Halloween mid-September.  The decorations (although few in number and mostly vintage style black cats) were out almost a month ago.  Why? Practicality.  We cleaned out the garage at the end of August, and there was no good practical sense in taking things out and putting them back again only to take them out again three weeks later.

If it's dirty and I have a minute, I clean it.  If I find myself idle (say waiting for something to cook,) I put something away, or take a few minutes to read an assignment.  Somewhere in there, I also try to maintain contact with my older daughters, by at least texting or phoning weekly.  Sundays are usually the day my husband and I can enjoy a movie at home together if I don't have too much course work.

I promised myself on the decision of returning to school that I would not let my children's childhood suffer in any way if possible.  Yes there has been some belt tightening on mother's free time, but the baking of homemade goodies, the little reminders of holidays (even though they are much older now at nearly 12 and 15) and my youngest son's flights of fancy on random small projects, I do my best to indulge. Even if it's just for popcorn and a movie on the couch.  After raising two children to adulthood, the fact that the time flies and childhood is over faster than the two shakes of a lamb's tail is not lost on me.The time is so brief, yet its effects are so eternal on the minds of children, so I strive to keep in the forefront of my mind what my sons will think back on when they remember these days.   There is nothing wrong with demonstrating a good work ethic to your children by any means, but it also must be that joy and magic remain to feed the soul.

In all of this, I am looking forward to the winter break, the quiet, and some hand work.  And maybe, just maybe, a little rest.

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