I'm not sure what got into me lat week, but when "Rut-a-jers" called, I decided to answer. I spoke to a junior named Carmine. Sometimes the callers ask you about yourself: (Caller: "I see you majored in English, do you work in that area?" Me: "Yes, I speak English every day"), but Carmine was all business. He also said "you know" so many times that I wondered if he was playing a drinking game with someone in the call center who had to do a shot every time he uttered the phrase. Trust me, if this were the case, his friend would be dead. He also said, "I see you live in DECK-A-TUR, Georgia," which is fine because there's no reason that he should be able to pronounce Decatur correctly. But New Jersey is so full of towns with weird names (Paramus, Piscataway, Ho-Ho-Kus, Parsippany, Hoboken, Weehawken, Moonachie) that it's funny to hear someone struggle with Decatur, which is pretty much pronounced the way it looks (aside from the long "a"). Despite Carmine's less than suave delivery, I ended up donating to Rutgers because, well, for kids like Carmine who could use a decent communications class before they hit the working world.
Not to be outdone, Emory called the next day and I got to talk to Meredith, a freshman at the college. Bless her heart, Meredith was just about everything that Carmine was not. She was so chatty that I started to worry that she hadn't made any friends at school. She asked what I missed about law school. (My answer: Great professors, being in an academic environment. Truth: Going to a bar after my last exam.) She asked what activities I was involved with at Emory. (My answer: Activities weren't really common among law students, but I did work on a journal. Truth: I worked on a third-rate journal and was a functioning alcoholic.) Why did you decide to go to law school? (My answer: You learn skills in law school like critical thinking and persuasive writing, that are useful in any job. Truth: Why did I go to law school?)
|I blame Oprah.|
Meredith also wanted to make sure they had my personal information correct. "I see that we don't have any information on your employer. Do you want to update that?" She asked. "No," I said. "I don't have a job."Well, that put poor Meredith in a bind because she now had to ask someone without an income to donate money to Emory (a school with a nearly 6 billion dollar endowment, BTW). After apologizing profusely for even asking for a donation "because you're unemployed, and all" she made a lowball request for $75. I agreed, in no small part because I felt guilty about not adjusting her perception of what my "unemployment" is all about. I mean, it's certainly not like I'm sitting in a house with no electricity, eating beans from a can, and giving my last $75 to Emory (which will probably be used to pay service fees on the 6 billion dollar endowment).
|Do exercise clothes count?|
They do? Damn it!
Most folks probably wouldn't get ruffled by an 18 year-old who is probably required to solicit donations so she can keep her scholarship. But then, most folks are probably more well-adjusted than I am and don't suffer from a persecution complex. So, here's the thing that everyone should know about being an "unemployed" stay at home mom: It's a really hard job. Not commercial fisherman-hard or coal mining-hard, but hard none the less. One of the things that makes it hard is the misperception that it is a lot of lying around eating candy and watching "The View." While I realize that it was my (sometimes head-shaking) choice to have three children, they're here and someone has to make sure that they are fed, clothed, picked up from school on time, put to bed on time, and parented. Since the K has a (sometimes head-shaking) job that requires him to travel and work long hours, we made the decision that I would do the parenting trench work. Here's what I have to look forward to this afternoon and evening:
3:00 - Pick up the Boy from school.
3:15 - Warn the Boy that he has a batting lesson at 4:00.
3:16 - Dodge cleat that the Boy has thrown at me upon hearing about batting lesson.
3:17 - Tell the Boy that Daddy says the batting lessons have really helped and we've pre-paid, so he has to go at least three more times. Gentle cajoling fails to work, so turn to threats and bribery.
3:18 - Readjust picture which was turned askew when the Boy slammed his bedroom door.
3:20 - Gather baseball gear and hope that the Boy comes around because he's now too big to force to do anything.
3:25 - Make snack for the Baby to eat in the car because she won't have time to come inside before we have to leave for the batting lesson.
3:45 - Get the Baby from the bus stop
3:46 - Break the news about going to batting lesson. Tears, low-level screaming.
3:49 - Throw the Baby, the Boy (no shoes on, complaining endlessly), and the Dog into the minivan and drive to practice.
4:02 - Show up late to batting lesson and make an excuse about the traffic, although the real reason we're late is because the Boy purposely took his baseball bag out of the trunk and hid it behind the bushes in the front yard. He only confesses this when we are already halfway to the park and we have to turn around and go home to find the bag.
4:03 - Walk Dog and Baby over to the playground. Baby tries to jump over a puddle (the park, like all parks in Atlanta is in a flood plain and never fully dries) and instead jumps into the puddle. She is soaked with muddy water and starts to cry.
4:05 - Stranger walking by offers a crumpled tissue and I manage to dry off one of the Baby's ankles.
4:10 - Finally make it to playground. Baby is playing and having a good time. Dog finds some ABC gum and gets it matted in her fur before I notice. Forced to swipe Dog's mouth to extract ABC gum and walk through the mud to the garbage can to throw it away.
4:11 - Stranger walks by and observes that I am throwing gum in recycling and basically destroying the environment. Although I'm beyond caring, I fish the gum out of the bin and walk through more mud to the proper trash receptacle.
4:25 - Tell the Baby that it's time to go. More tears because she's finally having fun.
4:30 - Watch the Boy pick up balls in the batting cage and realize it's the first time I've seen him willingly pick up anything and wonder if I can hire the batting coach to be a cleaning coach.
4:45 - Arrive home and cut the gum out of the Dog's beard.
4:50 - Break the news to the Boy and the Baby that when the Girl gets home, everyone will have to pile back into the car to drive her to soccer practice.
4:51 - Tears, complaints, assurances that this is the "Worst day EVER!"
4:59 - Girl arrives home from Girls on the Run and is exhausted. Allow her to rest for one minute.
5:00 - Advise the Girl that she needs to put on her shinguards and cleats because we're driving the carpool for soccer practice.
5:01 - Sobbing.
5:05 - Resignation. Shinguards go on, socks, cleats. The Girl refuses to eat anything because, "I'll just puke it up all over the field."
5:10 - Advise children that we are leaving to pick up the carpool. Ignored.
5:12 - Second request to leave house. Ignored.
5:15 - Third request plus threats of no screen time.
5:18 - All in the car, neither younger child is wearing shoes.
5:34 - Drop of the Girl and two teammates at soccer. Half-heartedly apologize for being late, but realize that I'm always late so no one expects any different.
5:45 - Make dinner while fielding snack requests that come in approximately seven-minute intervals and timed impeccably for when I'm pulling something out of the oven.
6:30 - Finally get dinner on the table.
6:34 - Boy finishes eating.
6:40 - Realize that the Boy has basketball practice and I haven't asked anyone to take him. Text the coach and beg a ride.
6:43 - Throw some practice clothes at the Boy and tell him he's got to set the record for getting dressed.
6:45 - Coach pulls into driveway.
6:47 - Send the Boy out of the house carrying his basketball sneakers and a coat. (He'll leave the coat at practice and I'll never see it again.)
6:49 - Make lunches for tomorrow.
7:15 - Girl arrives home and finally eats dinner.
7:30 - Advise the Baby that she needs to take a shower. Tears, complaints, assurances that this is the "Worst day EVER!"
7:40 - Girl realizes she hasn't done her homework. Tears, complaints, assurances that she is "Totally going to flunk out of school and definitely getting left back in the fourth grade."
7:40 - 8:05 - Help Girl with homework which should take 10 minutes, but, because of complaints, takes at least twice as long.
8:10 - Girl gets in shower.
8:15 - Boy gets dropped off from basketball practice. Turns on television. I tell him that he needs to shower ASAP and get to bed. Tears, complaints, assurances that I'm "the worst mom EVER!"
8:35 - Everyone goes upstairs and start chasing each other around until the Baby trips over a chair and starts to cry.
8:37 - Baby calms down and everyone brushes teeth. I tell the Baby it's too late for a story and she sobs. I relent and say we can read a short story. "Okay, we will wead the showtest stowy eva," she shouts and storms over to the bookcase to find a book.
9:05 - Stories read, prayers said, songs sung, and I finally go downstairs.
9:06-9:15 - Empty dishwasher.
9:16 - Boy comes downstairs with a "stomach ache." I give him a Tums and send him back up.
9:18 - 9:30 - Set table for breakfast, make coffee for the morning.
9:40-10:00 Brush teeth, wash face (using Clarisonic, of course), and put on a layer of face cream to forestall the ravages of time.
10:00 - Bed.
My morning routine is similar and begins at 6:15 and wraps up at 8:00. So, between the after school stuff and the morning stuff, the hands-on childcare still takes about nine hours. Honestly, I don't know how people who work all day in between dropping off kids at school and getting them from school or aftercare do it (and by "it," I mean buy food, get the oil changed, wait for the washing machine repair guy, and remain sane). However, I'd be willing to bet that there aren't a lot of people who'd trade me for my schedule, either. It's funny how being unemployed can end up being so much work!