My life with teenage girls is really just one long book of The Little Red Hen.
Who will take out the garbage? Not I, Not I, Not I, Not I
Who will help me unload the groceries? Not I, Not I, Not I, Not I
That is the more traditional version. My own version is a little more like this.
Who will clean their room? In a minute, In a minute, In a minute, In a minute
Who will put their clothes away? In a minute, In a minute, In a minute
Who will run this upstairs for me? In a minute, In a minute, In a minute
In a minute means...Not I, Not I, Not I, Not I
In a minute is a warped response that has no actual bearing on real time, as in a minute does not mean one minute at all. It means, "I am sort of listening to you, I understand there is something I am supposed to do, but I do not want to put down my crack (aka cell phone) to do it, so I will wait until you ask four more times and then scream it at me like a nutcase on the fifth time" and then the response will be, "Calm down, chill, I was going to do it."
Who needs a check for drill? I do, I do, I do, I do
Who needs a ride to a friend's house? I do, I do, I do, I do
Who needs papers signed for school at 7:55 in the morning? I do, I do, I do
And now the interpretation of time changes drastically. The minute, which above represented hours and hours, quickly dwindles down to seconds. The little Red Mama is expected to respond immediately and efficiently, like a super hero, producing rides and money with a quickness and speed that will save the world.
I created the beast, so it is really pointless for me to complain. We have been over committed for years with dance, basketball, softball, choir, swim...you name it we have done it. Years of rushing from one activity to another, shoving dinner at kids and handing out checks. Always rushed, never enough time. I probably didn't put enough time or energy into expecting help. It always seemed much easier to just do things myself.
The last time I wrote about being over committed, I was nervously preparing for competitive dance with our oldest. That ship has sailed and I am now on competitive dancer number three. A surprise, last minute, competitive dancer who gave up softball and committed when I least expected it. (There's a line, from The Godfather maybe? "Every time I think I'm out they just keep pulling me back in...").
Life is not as busy for me as it was when I had dancer number one. While we are still over committed, life has taken it's natural course...one child gone to college, another child driving, my husband works in town and helps with logistical rides...not every responsibility is mine. I can, I dare say it out loud, breathe a little. And, the ability to breathe has left me a little more still and in that stillness, I have had the time to embrace competitive dancer number three.
Even though I went reluctantly to competitive dance with child number one...the moment she stepped on stage, I bawled. I cried tears of pride and joy for probably hours at the competition. An embarrassing cry in front of others. The idea that she had fought for what she wanted, made it happen, and then on top of it all was a beautiful, talented, and most importantly confident dancer made me cry. And after that I supported fully without looking back. She paved the way for the rest, and competitive dance has been a part of our busy lives for a long time.
However, with the first two, I was still busy. Still shoving dinner at people, still driving all over town for three hours after work every day, and still balancing my own schedule and the schedules of five other people. My mind ran constantly with times, dates, lessons, car pool pick ups, and the list goes on. Some of this still exists, but not at the same grand level. With Mary I find that I can enjoy the competitions and conventions. Because my time is different, it is something we plan and look forward to instead of another thing I need to plan and find coverage for.
I am sure many would wonder why I invest all the time and money into this. And, as stated above, I clearly did so at the expense of having helpful children who jump up to do chores. I wondered myself in my first over committed blog. At the time I jokingly referenced getting them ready for such aspirations as Rockette, Miss California, and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. Clearly those are all still on the table, but now with six years of perspective on it, I know why I do it. It has been answered for me.
The time and the money didn't go into creating professional dancers, it went in to creating confident girls, and they are, all of them in their own way...confident girls. Confident girls who know how to present themselves, who speak for themselves, who problem solve, who work with others, and who, let's be clear, can tap and shimmy with the best of them. We chose a good dance teacher too. One who leads by example and emphasizes the importance of strong character in her dancers above the importance of winning.
So this Little Red Mama marches on. Competitive dance and high school swim season are on our horizon as Sr. year drill captain winds down. With my time to breathe and enjoy some things I rushed to and through in the past, I am also trying to curb the "In a minute" responses. Big sigh...one step forward, two steps...
The idea was always to keep them busy. Too busy for trouble. I may have succeeded. However, in this blog, time to breathe may also mean time for wine. Wine is also handy when the "In a minute" responses are in coming at me rapidly.
Who will visit mommy in rehab? Not I. Not I. Not I. Not I.