Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Life Right Now

Let me start by stating that I love my husband.
He is a fabulous father and the kids and I LOVE spending time with him. When he's here. And therein lies the problem.

From Monday to Friday his typical schedule is like this:
Up at 5:30 AM
Out the door by 6
At school early to grade papers
7:30 - 2:45 Teach
3 - 5 Work on theater-related stuff (this week that means practicing with a group of kids that will be presenting a one act at this weekend's state theater conference that he will be attending with them - from Thursday night until early Sunday morning....another story for another time)
5:20 -5:45 Home to see kids and me
5:45 Leave to go back to school for evening rehearsal of the fall show
10:30 or so Home

On Tuesdays I teach Hebrew School from 3:30 to 5:30, so he comes home at 3:30 to stay with the kids and then leaves at 5:45 for rehearsal.

Most Saturdays he spends the majority of the day at school for additional rehearsal.

On Sundays I teach Religious School from 9-1. We always have dinner at his parents' on Sundays, a great tradition which, for some reason, has stretched out to now mean he brings the kids there for lunch and stays ALL afternoon through dinnertime. I do housework, grocery shopping, planning, etc. from 1:30 - 4 and then join them for dinner.

Does anyone think I'm being unreasonable when I say I'm feeling overwhelmed and like a single parent?!!!

I love being a mom, and I love teaching, and I love that I have worked out a schedule that allows me to do both. I currently teach three mornings a week from 9-12, but frequently end up subbing on the days I'm not teaching my own class, and come January that will increase to five mornings a week. J is at the same school, so she comes with me in the morning to "help" me set up my room, and comes to my room when the day is done. I drop the boys off at school or at a friend's house to bring them to school in the morning, and have many different people helping me by picking them up at 11:30 and bringing them to school to play until my school day is done. That means absolutely no kid-free quiet moments for me.

I really do enjoy running the household, but taking care of the groceries, the meal planning, the cooking, the clean-up, the picking up, the bills, the incoming paperwork, the holiday shopping, the house cleaning, AND the laundry is a lot to squeeze in. Add to that the fact that A has Asperger's and B is going through testing to figure out just what is going on in his head and J is just quite challenging most of the time, and that I have researched many different strategies to try with all of them that I am trying to put in our regular weekly schedule.

Add to that my birthday party business that I am trying to run (a fun and quite necessary financial addition to our overall income) and expand.

Add to that my clinical depression and narcolepsy that I take meds for but really have to work on to stay on top of. And the fact that insurance won't pay for more than 25% of my narcolepsy meds so I'm still trying to figure out alternative ways to pay for it.

I am by no means saying that DH doesn't do anything around here. He works incredibly long hours at school, even though if we worked out the hourly rate for all the theater work he is doing it would be next to nothing. He unloads the dishwasher for us every morning (a BIG help) and takes out the trash and the recycling. When he is here in the late afternoons for his chance to see us, I put him to work bathing the kids (C'mon, it's one-on-one quality time with each child!) to make our bedtime routine easier. This Sunday since I didn't have Religious School, he helped by cleaning up the downstairs while I worked some on the computer before we got together with his parents at 11 to buy the kids new shoes (my in-laws buy them shoes each season - sweet!) and help them pick out their Christmas tree. It was definitely helpful to have the clean-up taken off my Sunday To Do list. But do I sound like I'm whining when I say it's just not enough?!

I've talked with DH about this A LOT. He made a HUGE decision last week that he would not be assistant directing the spring show at the High School any more. Instead, he will be directing the Middle School show beginning in January, which means he makes the rehearsal schedule, gets more responsiblity and the recognition (and pay) that he deserves. He plans to have rehearsal three - four afternoons a week from 3 - 5, meaning that he will be home before 5:30 every day and not going out after that. That is, except for the evenings he will have rehearsal at our favorite community theater for the first show he will be actually be part of there in awhile.

So I'm going to keep telling myself that it WILL get easier by the end of December when he has winter break, and then in January, when his schedule changes a lot.

But A has been having a really rough time (since last Wednesday - I should have tried to structure our time off from school more, but damnit, I needed a little break!) which translates into lots more meltdowns (which now include screaming as well as throwing himself to the floor and crying loudly) and difficulty in responding to directions/commands. And J keeps whining about everything. And B is so hyped up I might have to send him upstairs for the rest of his "quiet time" since he keeps jumping on the couch instead of sitting or lying there so we can all have a little down-time.

I welcome ANY and ALL advice, words of wisdom, whatever!

I'm going to keep repeating that it will get better. And taking lots of deep breaths. Always good. In and out. Repeat.

8 comments:

pkzcass said...

It will get better, but that doesn't help much now. Just do what you can to stick it out while Chas has rehearsals and this show is over (shouldn't it be soon?). I don't think you're whining. I think you are overstressed and justified. Keep your head up and keep us posted.

Mommy Brain said...

Like pkzcass, I don't think you're whining and I DO think you're overstressed. Your husband is home 25 minutes a day? Britney Spears even gets more visitation than that.

I had no idea you were still doing birthday parties and teaching every morning. Do you remember a year ago when you made the tough decision to stop taking care of your sister's kids because you wanted to focus on Aaron and your other responsibilities? Since then you've started a new business and started teaching five mornings a week. On top of the three kids you still have, one with special needs, and the Hebrew/Religious school you're teaching. AND, all of the other stuff you mentioned.

Please don't take this the wrong way but it might be time to prioritize and eliminate something. AND, not eliminate something then fill that time with more stuff. :-) You can only stretch yourself so far. And with the depression and narcolepsy you need to be putting yourself first.

Or, if you can't eliminate anything, could you use the additional income you are getting from teaching/parties to pay someone else to come and clean your house once a week. I know it feels expensive but something has to give! And if you're teaching five days a week and can't afford to hire someone to do a few loads of laundry then maybe teaching isn't worth it. Even just do it for a few weeks until Chas' schedule changes. The holidays are so busy it might be nice to have someone else scrub your sink.

Hang in there! At the very lest you should see some improvement in a few weeks when the show is over. Hugs!

Anonymous said...

Put yourself first. If you don't take care of yourself, you cannot take care of the children, the husband, the household.

Your husband is probably a great guy. You do feel like a single parent because from what you describe you basically are. You need to take the bull by the horns, and fix this problem, that's what women do.

My suggestion -- Make an appointment with your husband, when you both aren't rushed, like on Sunday when the kids are at your in laws. And talk about what the goals are for your family. Put a cap on the time, because you want to stay focused. Write it down the goals. Then talk about what you need to do to achieve those goals. Write it down. Then if lets say some of the things you are doing that take time away from your goal (which I assume is having a happy well adjusted family) then you have to weigh these interests/jobs and see if it is a necessity or for ego. And ego is not always a bad thing, you need to keep some of your identity and interests in your marriage/family.

Your husband needs to pick 2-3 days of the week to be home for dinner and not have to run out again. ANd stick to it. You need to cut back on everything you are doing and concentrate on the kids, their issues, and household. THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB YOU HAVE IS YOUR CHILDREN, THEY NEED YOU. You need to get a budget and figure out how you are going to pay for the necessities you need to stay sane (ie. meds) Then you need to need to find out what you need to make your life easier and have time for yourself (babysitter? housekeeper?) You also need to look at the areas of your life that take up too much time and cut back again. Are the ventures that you and your husband taken on --directing, business, hebrew school, teaching, etc. helping you achieve your ultimate goals as a family? Only the two of you can answer that.

Good luck. Keep us posted and keep flying!

Domestic Goddess said...

I agree.
You need to put yourself first. If mama ain't happy...
Seriously, you have SO MUCH GOING ON. Something has to give. The priority needs to be getting that medication. If you don't have it, you aren't going to function, period. If you can't get the meds, perhaps you need to cut back on something? Most importantly, though, the husband has GOT TO COME HOME and spend more time with y'all. Good dad or no, you can only stretch so far. How far is he stretching? It is your job as mom to be the caretaker, but you are both in this partnership together. And it sounds to me like he is getting out to do things he loves (which is fine) but isn't holding up his end of the bargain at home. Maybe there needs to be only ONE outside activity for each of you. Like one show, not directing AND a show. You know?
I don't know. Just the thoughts off the top of my head. Keep us posted!

Lauren said...

Rachel,

I agree with everything everyone else said. Your husbands needs to be home more and help more. Make this as specific as possible. You need to cut some activities out and make room, in terms of time and money, for taking care of yourself. Again, make all these changes as specific as possible and write them down and stick to them. Expectations need to be clear.

On a slightly contradictory note, I'm just wondering why it is that Chaz gets to perform with the community theatre and YOU don't. Because if you find that life-giving maybe it would be therapeutic for you and he could watch the kids. Just a thought.

Anjali said...

Ditto to everything everyone else says. The fact that Chas is fabulous isn't the point...the point is that you can't keep going on like this.

I was in a position like yours a little over a year ago. I made Brian say no to something important to him because I couldn't take the 16 hour a day, 7 day a week workweeks anymore. You need Chas there for your mental health. And you need your mental health more than anything else in the world.

O said...

More dittos. More mental hugs and sympathy. And I'll bet you are correct that the meltdowns are related to lack of daddy time. We've each had to skip things we really wanted to do because the kids weren't dealing with the one-parent-at-a-time scenario, and adding a babysitter doesn't help that. It's so hard with three kids to give one-on-one time, but it's also really helpful for them to see parents acting as a team. Not a tag-team, though you guys have that to an incredible science! But a working-together team.
Good luck figuring out ways to make that happen. Hang in there!

Just Nancy said...

Rachel,

I admire you so much, always have, and while I have nothing to add to the comments already made, just know that someone in Baton Rouge is thinking about you and praying that things will get better for you!

www.nancysbrandt.com