Lunch at my desk
“I will never stop being your Beanie.”
I’ve just come out of the bathroom and there’s a jammie-clad Beanie standing in my doorway. The clock on the stove is glowing 2:56am, so I scoop her up and we both crawl into bed where she declares her love as I tuck her in. I doze off with her little arm flung across my neck.
The sky is still half-dark when she stirs next to me, and tells me that the sun is awake. Thankfully, she’s content to snuggle back in for a few more minutes so I can wake up slowly, but it’s not long before we hear Swee padding through the kitchen to join us. The girls trade spots, and Beanie toddles off to lose the sodden overnight diaper. She returns with a bag of Cheerios that she found “next to Daddy’s back-back” and so begins a cereal picnic in our bed. It’s 6:20, and I needed to wash the sheets today anyway.
An hour later, we’ve finished breakfast (toaster waffles with local maple syrup, strawberries & raspberries, milk: a mix of healthy and easy) and I’m on my second cup of coffee. The washer is going, and I’m standing at the coop in my pajamas with a still-warm egg in my hand as the chickens bicker over the trimmings from last night’s slow cooker roast beef.
The girls decide that their ponies need “a hair-dress” and settle themselves on the couch. Taking advantage of such a peace treaty, J and I occupy the kitchen table to go over the day. I have appointments at 9am and 10am today, and he’s speaking with the Dean of Nursing at 11. We need water, and he needs to check in with the mechanic about my still-broken car. We have a quick conversation about bills and paychecks, and then suddenly a list of demands arrives from the living room, including a request for a new baby sister. On that note, we kill the pot of coffee and we’re off to the races.
Make a lunch, pack a back pack, find the mittens, floss the raspberry seeds out of little toddler teeth, trade my own pjs for clean yoga pants and fresh socks. It is school spirit week so I dress Swee in “something with words,” and after many kisses and hugs, I head to my desk. Seconds later, the door bursts open and in stomps a Beanie to show me her pigtails, Daddy’s newest skill in the hair department. All of my people head out the front door, then honk the horn as they pull away and I discover that my first call has been pushed back. Daddy and Beans are going hiking while Swee is at school, and I have 45 minutes to catch up on the email that has accumulated overnight.
Today is a work day for me, meaning that J is off, and I will spend the entire business day at my desk with few interruptions. The difference between other jobs I’ve held and this one working remotely is that when I am at work, I am working. I don’t lose hours to meetings about meetings, or in the car going between campuses, or sitting through impromptu status or brainstorming sessions. I don’t catch up with people around the water cooler or make personal phone calls in-between emails. I work, and that is the only reason this setup is manageable. On days that J has to go to his own job, I’m in my office until roughly two o’clock, and then I’ll come back after bedtime if I need to. Sometimes I’m in here during naptime or on the weekends. Is it perfect? No. It’s tiring, and it makes the transition back to being “just” mama a little more difficult because of the full immersion into work-think. And I miss lunch with colleagues and making connections face-to-face, but overall, it’s a really good arrangement that allows our family to pursue our current goals, and that’s the priority.
An unexpected meeting fills my afternoon with good and necessary conversation around goal setting and subsequent projects, and then it’s time to change my hat again. My Swee has popped in to ask if I’m done working, and will I please shut it down – how can I say no to that? I join her in the living room where J is braiding pony manes, and stitch a few rows on my current project. This is the hardest part of the day for me, and it’s worse when J has left for work and I have to hold my nose and jump into the deep end alone. I’ve yet to find a really effective way to close the door on work and reset my mind for the evening.
Beanie comes flying down the hall sporting some serious bed head and no pants. She’s in a splendid mood, which is not the post-nap norm. Typically she spends half an hour playing the yes/no game and screaming inconsolably, so this is a really nice turn of events. J says, “It’s 4:30. Which means it’s time to start dinner,” and I respond,”That’s my line!” before heading to the kitchen. The menu is chicken in a white wine sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, and peas. Not a difficult recipe – just a little more time consuming than I typically would choose, but J is home and I try to make a little more effort on his nights off. Plus, I know both girls will eat this meal, equaling less strife at the dinner table. Cooking with wine means I get to drink a bit, too. J runs out to lock the chickens in for the night, trusty mutt at his side, and then returns to join us at the table. The girls each have their dinner time chores: Beans provides napkins, Swee sets out the silverware. Attire for our little ladies includes pink fairy wings, and we finish our dinner with a kitchen dance party before they strip down and two little white bottoms streak past me to climb into the tub. Daddy handles baths when he’s home, and I’m on cleanup.
I’ve got the dishwasher started, and the pots and pans are almost done when J appears and yells, “It’s seven o’clock!” We both forgot that he has back-to-back classes tonight, so the dishes are abandoned, and I take over jammies and bedtime while he logs into his seminars – Genetics and Statistics. It’s the final week of the term, and it’s become crunch time.
Two stories, many songs and snuggles, and an hour and a half later one is asleep and one is not. J takes a quick break to help me flip our battered old mattress in a vain attempt to make it more comfortable, and I put the clean sheets back on before showering. I manage just one chapter of my book before turning out the light. It’s 10:30. J will work for another two hours or so before falling asleep in his chair. He’ll eventually make it to bed around 2am, not long before we start all over again.