Today started out with me ripping the handle off of my favorite Vera Bradley bag (I found it at Goodwill and it is the PERFECT size) in the Community Center gym.
We were playing basketball when Wes shouted "I'M POOPING!!!" as he ran out of the room toward the bathroom. I grabbed my bag, which was stuck on one of the bleachers, unbeknownst to me, and turned to go after him and RRRRRIIIIP, I was left holding the handle of my bag. I am pretty sure I can fix it. I really hope so.
After Wes handled his bathroom needs we tried to play for a little bit longer but the kids kept stealing each others' basketballs and then screaming and hitting each other. When I yelled (without thinking, obviously) "STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHERS' BALLS!!" I knew it was time for us to leave.
From there we had to go to the store for a couple of things and the bickering and pinching continued. For his part, James screamed like velociraptor every thirty seconds or so. It was magical and special times in the big gold minivan.
James took a nap after we got home, but Charlie and Wes fought for every second of that two hours that the TV wasn't on. Not just fighting, but hitting, pushing, smacking, screaming, toy stealing, you name it. Then they "made their own sandwiches" out of three slices of bread, turkey, cheese, and about a quarter cup of mayonnaise EACH and the refused to eat them because they didn't like it. Wes defiantly poked holes in his with his fingers until I exiled him to the back yard and threw his lunch in the trash. I was about to LOSE IT. And then James woke up and sobbed through his lunch.
But then it was time for me to go to a meeting so I trooped everyone out to the car where Wes had a Stage 4 meltdown over having to wear his red Crocs instead of his black Crocs.
And James was still screaming.
And then I was screaming and crying and struggling to pull it together and wondering if the kids wouldn't be better off if I had a full-time job after all. But, OH RIGHT, all those discouraging emails about no money for new faculty, no money for additional classes for adjuncts! THIS SCREAMING, SNOTTY, PEANUT BUTTER-COVERED LIFE IS MINE FOREVER! And at that moment, with everyone screaming in the van and at least four very intimidating deadlines looming over my head THIS MONTH, there were very few redeeming qualities about my choice to work part time. None. Not one lazy summer afternoon at the pool splashing with the kids seemed worth it.
And then after a very positive work meeting I helped a woman carry some things to her office, her beautiful sunny office whose walls were covered in children's finger paintings and macaroni sculptures and we had SUCH an encouraging conversation about how she started as an adjunct and then landed a visiting position and now has tenure. She asked in low tones if I'd ever be interested in being tenure track someday and I answered in equally low tones, "Oh YES. That would be wonderful." And she is not in charge of those types of decisions, so it was more of a mentor-type question, but she told me all about how highly my colleagues think of me in my department and that I should keep doing what I am doing and work hard on teaching and maybe someday something will work out. I was floating as I left her office and headed for mine.
The nanny dropped the kids off and they were so adorable and fun all the way back to the car and I started to imagine *this* as my life, a fulfilling, professional day, picking up happy children, riding home together talking about our days. It seemed like that could work too--It already seemed to be working better than that morning of full-time parenting had gone.
But when we got home the bottom fell out again and we were back to fighting and picking and bickering. I slapped some PB&J's down for dinner and flipped on the evening news. James was still screaming almost constantly so I gave him a Motrin chaser then sat down to watch TV until Ryan got home to take Charlie and Wes to teeball.
I got James into his jammies as soon as Ryan left and thought about plunking him in bed to fend for himself, but he was so miserable I thought I would sit down in his chair for a cuddle first. He sucked his thumb and stroked his blanket and leaned into my chest and sighed. I started through the songs I usually sing to him at bedtime. First "Lean on Me", then "You are my Sunshine", then I sang him "The Hymn of Promise". I was crying when I got to "In the cold and snow of winter, there's a spring that waits to be."
It may be trite and I know that I am so lucky to have my beautiful children and a great part time job with supportive coworkers. But it's not always going to be so HARD. The kids aren't always going to have scratching fights in the back of the van as I try to drive safely enough as to not arouse the suspicions of the police or swerve off the road. They won't always scream so loud and so often that my brain is melting and flowing out of my ears (all day, you guys, OMG). It's not always going to take such Herculean effort just to run into the store for wipes and milk. I'm not always going to have to fit lecture planning in between kid bedtime and falling asleep on the couch. I'm not always going to find it difficult to summon up the mental energy to make freaking quesadillas for dinner because the baby keeps going up the stairs/eating dog food/splashing in the potty and the big kids are outside either rolling the tricycle down the slide or beating the crap out of each other or knocking down fence boards and escaping to the front yard (!!).
James fell asleep in my arms. And I stayed there with him for a long time. And it was good.