My children come home for lunch

And I love it.

And I hate it.

This muffin is going to get me through the afternoon.

And I hate it.

And I love it.

Sometimes those feeling oscillate within the very same moment. Most of the morning I fret about what I am going to feed them and so hardly get anything done until I start cooking. And it isn’t enough to just give them a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter and jam sandwich because I am the worst sort of food snob: the vegan-ish food snob. Sometimes they come home and are extremely grateful for whatever I have put on the table. Today it was homemade nut yogurt with fruit and pumpkin millet muffins. Except one of them was then annoyed that there were kiwis in her yogurt, didn’t like the muffins and washed it all down with leftover pizza.

I made myself kale soup and washed that down with leftover pizza.

The girls come home for lunch for various reasons: 1) We live across the street from the school and it makes sense. 2) No one likes making a packed lunch in the morning. 3) Money. Not the biggest reason but at $300 a kid to stay for lunch supervision and with me being at home, it is the wisest choice. 4) My cancer. It’s one of those “I want to spend more time with my kids” things that I feel I should do – even when they come home and do nothing but fight with one another and I wonder why I bother.

I remember when Moira was little and would spend the day at her grandmothers so I could have a break. I would be so happy for her to get away from me for a while – but even when your children are gone they are still right there. As the hour approached for her return my anxiety returned. Did I use my child-free time wisely? Will she have missed me? Will her return instigate a full-blown tantrum. (Answers were usually: no, yes, and every time.)

It’s been 9+ years and I still don’t have the whole balance of being a mother and a writer down. Hell, I don’t have the balance of someone who is a mother and has actual other hobbies that I don’t immediately give up because my children take up my every waking thought. I have given almost every single moment of the last decade to being a mother and wife and it has sucked almost every ounce of creativity out of me. And yet I love my daughters so much that sometimes I wish we had more of them because (I’m crazy) they are all so brilliant and gorgeous and I am in awe daily that half my genetic make-up could create such beings.

I did it all willingly and I’m pretty sure I would do it all again given the same circumstances.

Plus I think they make me a more interesting person and a better writer when I actually manage to put some words on the page.

Anyway, I keep saying “I’m living the dream now” which is sort of tongue-in-cheek but not really because the dream has always been to live long enough to have all three children in school at once. So that is finally where we are. All my worries that Oonagh was too young for school and would be exhausted by days end have been squashed by a little girl whose answer to “How was school today?” is: “fantastically awesome!”

Things are finally getting easier but to borrow Meg Wolitzer’s term, how do you wake up from your 10-year nap? I feel like I have option paralysis now and I need someone to come in and organize both my office and my brain.

Meanwhile, the girls will continue to come home for lunch, and I will continue to both enjoy it and dread it. They will be happy with my food choices some days and hate them other days. They will continue to fight and make me crazy. The earth will continue to rotate around the sun. I will, hopefully, start putting more words on the page.

  5 Replies to “My children come home for lunch”

  1. Rachel
    September 18, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    I need to know about this paid lunchtime supervision. Is this public school? I’d be tempted to do the same for my kids if we lived really close to the school. Mostly because my oldest doesn’t eat his lunch (very slow eater and wants to go play) and is a mess by three o’clock.
    Man the yin yang of parenting. I’m creeping towards more freedom myself and at the same time wondering if I will regret making time for my career before the youngest is school age.

    • September 18, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      That is the cost for one child to stay for lunch and yes, that is for public school. The kicker is that if you have to have your child bussed to school you still have to pay the lunchtime supervision cost so your expenses are doubled even though you don’t have the option of having your child go home. The cost if I want them to stay for lunch without signing them up for the year is $5 a day per kid. And no, lunch in not provided. Also, they sit at their desks and eat. I’ve heard from many friends that their kids barely eat their lunch (especially boys) for various reasons.

  2. September 19, 2017 at 9:13 am

    I love this and couldn’t have said it better. Especially the 10 year nap and option paralysis. Yes!

    • September 20, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Thank you Paige. Throwing cancer into the mix (as you know) just makes things infinitely more complicated but everyone has something to add to their load.

  3. Jordan
    October 10, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    I have followed Youngstown long time on IG. I, too, am.a terminal mother of 2 girls. I appreciate the honesty of your words. There are days when all I want is more time, cuddles, and I go watch them sleep. But then there are days that I get overwhelmed with their bickering and tired from making a simple meal that they don’t like and I find myself just wanting to be in my bed, by myself. Not because I am depressed but because life isn’t black and white and often heavy. Thinking of you.

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