A funny thing happens when you’re a mama of school aged kids. As soon as they go back to school, the public around you starts to ask you one question: “What are you going to do with all that free time?” There are a number of different ways to respond to this, and only some of them are considered “acceptable” by our social standards. The most natural tend to be “frowned upon” and considered unfriendly conversation when you’re, say, standing in line at the grocery store.
My inner stay-at-home mom (as I was early on) wants to respond with a whole whack of things that must happen for a family to function. The part of me that works full time wants to respond with a lengthy feminist commentary and ask if it would ever cross your mind to ask a dude what he would do “with all his spare time, now that the kids are back in school.”
The part of me that is fiercely proud of my parenting style and semblance of a manageable work life blend wants to respond with a puzzled look. Why would you assume I haven’t figured out how to teach healthy, loving boundaries to my kids and to myself, but rather assume that my day must exist in total freaking chaos?
The part of me that is single mom of three wants to just bang my head against the wall.
So instead of any of these, um, “candid” replies, I hold back every eye roll, editorial comment, and sugar-sweet but facetious eye batting “gosh, I don’t know!” and respond with: “Same thing I do every day, but now I don’t have to wear pants.”
And I think that sums it up in a nutshell, doesn’t it? My kids are school for the *blink blink* time period of 6 hours and 15 minutes. As soon as I drop them off, I - and I’m sure you - launch into fast forward mode, and begin the process of squeezing in about 17 hours’ worth of work and errands.
I start at the gym for half an hour, where I’ve condensed what used to be an hour’s workout to 27 minutes. Then, I run downtown and jam in a very adult-y activity. Wow, I wish that were as sexy as it sounds, but alas, by adult-y, I mean the super exciting things like paying property taxes, appointments with accountants / doctors / other specialty professional I need to pay to take care of me properly.
Then I start my legit work day. No, I do not shower in between, but rather rely on the holy trinity of dry shampoo / mascara / lipstick to make it look like I did. I also take one minute and 15 seconds to reheat the coffee I made first thing when I woke up but forgot to drink.
Invariably, I look up from my work a few hours later and realize I have 30 minutes before it’s time to pick up my littles from school; it’s at about that time I run to my friend’s house to let her dog out for a hot minute, then race to the grocery store to get stuff for dinner, breakfast, and three little lunches for the next day. It’s at about this point I have the conversation that started this whole thing with a near stranger in line at No Frills, and smile politely, understanding they're just saying that thing they say without even thinking about it, and knowing I just went at least four hours in pants-free bliss.