Sunday: I awake because Oliver is unzipping the tent. In a second, I am reminded of where I am: on a strange urban camping expedition, courtesy of the all-consuming project that us The Musical. My Life, The Musical. My Work, The Musical. My Joy, The Musical. I am stiff as I move to stop him from escaping our family tent, pitched on the outdoor stage under the enormous event tent that will shortly be the venue of Our Elementary School Musical, The Musical. And while I am sore from the hard ground and feel the imprint of Seth’s sock in my face from an awkward night of family togetherness, I know Max and Ollie (Seth too, for that matter) will never forget that they got to sleep on the stage of their musical tent. I suffer the discomfort gladly, and my rockstar husband (who, okay, actually likes camping in the first place) gets the special ribbon of commitment for spending the whole weekend out there protecting the venue from the non-existent ruffians of one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city.
Monday: I wake up in a bit of a state worrying about logistical work matters regarding volunteers with whom, let’s face it, you can’t get too irritated when they are late or absent for things for which they’ve volunteered. Because they are helping you for free. In any case, I push the worries out of my head because this morning is my very last ECFE class with Seth, and we are going. And we are going to enjoy ourselves, darn it! If only I can keep from weeping the whole time.
Here’s the thing about ECFE, the thing I recounted to my classmates in the parenting room which did in fact bring on the tears: when I started with baby Maxwell 8+ years ago, this program was a lifeline. I am not exaggerating when I say it’s possible it saved my life. I was a young, lonely, depressed stay-at-home mom. I had no friends with children. My more immediate family was supportive and helpful, but I had no friends with similar experience or worries or lack of sleep and hygiene. They had their own worries related to the place they were in their own lives at that moment, and I absolutely felt despondent and alone, clueless. So the teachers gently guided me, all of us. And the friends I made built me back up, in a way. I realized that I was still ME, just with a different frame of reference. I will always be indebted to ECFE for teaching me what I know about parenting, and also for bringing me out of my house and back into the world. The teachers also helped Maxwell and Oliver get the early interventions they needed for speech and OT, and assured me that Seth was developing just fine in these areas. I cannot believe that MN is the only state with this program, or that I was lucky enough to have started my family in the city with the best program in the state. Beyond luck, it was. Makes one believe in divine intervention.
(Oh, and work went fine without me. So a successful Monday all around!)
Tuesday: The day dawns sunny and warm, promising a great morning of fun for the school kids out on the playground with the volunteers as the teachers continue preparations for the show. I help with games, the spend the rest of the day in the proverbial chicken-with-head-cut-off mode. It is a heckuva day making arrangements for the show and wrapping up the school year. How do I have so many things on my to-do list? But I cross off every single one under the heading “Tuesday” and then some. Just keep swimming. Spend the evening watching media coverage of our school and posting it all over the internet. Also keep an eye on the Transit of Venus online with Maxwell, future Astronomer. Awesome.
Wednesday: I bounce out of bed, once again. I’m not sure where the energy is coming from, at this point. Another day of kid games, crossing off all to-do-list items, and detail work for tomorrow. TOMORROW. How did we get here already? I cap off my evening by buying and unloading 750 bottles of water at school. I hear a bunch of people are coming by, for some reason. My biceps are angry with me.
Thursday: We’re there. It’s the day. In spite of some moments of acute confusion, we manage to run field day, a dress rehearsal, an afternoon performance, and an evening performance of this year’s musical. The kids–OH THESE KIDS. They are the reason for the season, and they take my breath away with their enthusiasm, courage, and chutzpah.
Our family and loved ones arrive, and I love them for coming, even though I have scarcely a minute to say hello. Sadly, no picture of the gals who surprised me most that evening: childhood friend Amy and her mom, Nettie. SO AWESOME.
Our mural, the one I spent many months helping to organize for our school, is “unveiled”. Beatles songs are played, dancing is done.
Being a type-A event planner-type in a school full of primarily type-B artists is not for the faint of heart. I am taking mental notes all day long of how to make this more efficient, more seamless for next year. This year I did things as I’d heard they’d been done before, having no frame of reference. I will have a clearer idea for next year but, even so, I must say the day is an overall success. I run nonstop until I hit my head on a tree branch, hard, and am forced to sit around with an ice pack for awhile. But the kids did great, we sold a lot of stuff, and enormous numbers of people came to eat, watch, and revel in what we do at our school: create confident little artists and performers.
Somehow we make it home, with our sleepy but not too crabby children, and then this happened:
Joe gets much credit for taking a day off from work to run around and do what I said all day, and taking every picture I have from the event. What a guy.
Friday: The alarm goes off much, MUCH too early. My weary bones are not pleased, and my head injury makes me “sloshy” all day long. How to get through the day? Drop off Seth, get boys to school, and proceed to wrap up as many loose ends as possible in a single day with a seriously altered state of mind. Altered by exhaustion and injury, not anything stronger…sadly. I pick up food for volunteers and 6th grade graduates, pay bills, count, count, count. Come to the realization that I will indeed have to come back next week for many hours to work and pack up my office, as I’m being shuffled to another space in the fall. Try not to cry, take the boys for celebratory “you’re done with school!” ice cream, pick up Seth, and beg Joe not to make me do anything else all evening. Dinner is on Culver’s. I cannot wait to go grocery shopping for some real, actual food! Collapse into dreamless slumber at 8PM.
Saturday: I open my eyes onto a new day. A day impossibly post-musical, post-school-year. Our first day of summer vacation! How did THAT happen?!? I don’t know, but I am glad. And my body is grateful for the 12 hours of sleep I just gave it. Spend the rest of the day trying to piece my scattered home life back together…how did the house get so crazy? We also have a couple of grad parties, including one with this young lady who does not have my permission to graduate and go to college and leave us without our most regular babysitter!
Collapse into bed at 9PM. At least I had the energy to drink a beer first this time.
Sunday: Wake up early-ish thanks to the ever-energetic Oliver. Decide to go to church earlier. When we get done, we go to Costco and fill our cart with stuff, especially produce. Our meals have been erratic, and frankly cruddy, of late. Hmmm, salad. Go home and cook, cook, cook. Snuggle in after our fill of vitamins and minerals for a movie: Thor. This movie is so good and funny…I had no idea. I have a belly full of good food and laughter and a lap full of children. Life is so, so good.
Welcome, summer. We are all so glad to see you.