Revisiting Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

I am revisiting being a stay-at-home mom since the pandemic and brazenly quitting my job. I haven’t done this since 2007, and I have to say it’s interesting? Well, first off, looking for a job, particularly now, is fairly rotten. I hit up all the job sites, like Indeed and Glassdoor, in addition to going to actual websites of places I might like to work, and I have not had much success. It takes forever, and you have to enter a lot of search filters, leaving you eventually tired, exasperated and cross-eyed. Plus, I don’t even know what I want to do. I clicked on a wide array of positions, including being a Door Dash delivery person, an online social media designer, a development director, and a reporter. I freaked out that I’d get murdered with being a delivery person, so I opted out of that search.

But, then, I stumbled upon what may be my real talent and niche: Camp Counselor Philanthropist! Since school has yet to begin here in our town (first full day is October 13 #brutal), I started Camp Alex: Endless Summer. It’s essentially impossible for working parents now when kids are home all day, so I am helping them out while simultaneously entertaining my own children by having them over for camp. Win-win!

Here’s a look at Camp Alex. First, we have Puppy School, in which the dogs do math and get grades. The kids do “drop-off,” bringing the dogs upstairs with treats, and I do “pick-up.” At this time, I am versed on how well they behaved. For example, today, Poppy got an A+ and Winnie struggled with some addition and got a B+

Didn’t make Honor Roll

Around noon, we have lunchtime, which consists of whatever I can find in my fridge that they might like: edamame, french fries, grilled cheese and gummies.

Healthy!
Questionable

Next, we have play time on the trampoline and on the slide. One of their favorite games, which I created a long time ago as a disciplinary method, is “The Crab.” It’s really quite simple: find some tongs, and chase them around with the tongs biting at their ankles (gently, of course) and their knees. This is the crab! They absolutely love it, and it only costs a pair of tongs! Cheap, officious and fun. Next, we have pool time, in the baby pool, and finally quiet time with puzzles and crafts.

It’s interesting how we fall into things and unknown talents, like me being a camp counselor, during difficult times. I’m making the most of my staying at home during COVID, because I know it could be short lived. I don’t miss being in the office cubicle even one bit. The paycheck? Er, well, that’s another thing. For now, though, these kids laughing is a pretty good payoff.

My kindness rock garden

BEWARE! Of my Life… (Scary Image Included)

Last night, the kids were terrorized! They went on the swing set in the backyard in the pitch-black. They had flashlights and wanted to do a “scary night walk.” Well, they got their wish and then some when they were, in fact, scared to death and screaming after spotting this horrible looking carcass stuck in our outdoor shower! Does anyone know what this is?? Squirrel? Rabbit? Oh, and when I went to photograph it this morning, I was so nervous that I dropped my phone, and I think it touched the skeleton head. ICK.

What even is this???
Can you see the little flashlights in center? I took this of them on the swings last night.

In other news, my daughter caught her first False Albacore! She went fishing with her dad, and I was so happy he included her this time. She recited the names of all the fish she knows during a game of Barbies with me last night: “Okay, mommy, there are False Albacore, Tuna, Striped Bass, Bluefish, Fluke, Flounder…” She’s a regular salty dog! She held the fish for a photo, like all those men do on Facebook, so she, too, could have her day in the fisherman sun, if there is such a thing… Oh, and I guess she’s a fisherwoman? Or fisher-girl? She’s not the Fisher King. Remember that movie with Robin Williams? Aw, I loved him. Good flick, too!

It is officially Labor Day weekend here on Cape Cod, a time when the year-rounders often rejoice to reclaim the beaches and avoid traffic. However, those are days of yore, because people are staying now that they can work remotely and go to school online. I guess my wish to have a “Forever Summer” has finally been granted! Oh, and we got an email last night from the superintendent, and it turns out that the first actual full day of school for the kids here is October 13! I mean, the CHRISTMAS DECOR is out at Target and CVS by then. So much for back-to-school shopping. I might buy some pencils AND a new ornament and tree skirt!

Here is this year’s tree. Maybe it’s time to get rid of it? I used the branches to make fires in my fire pit.

Oh, and this happened…my son asked me to get the plunger….This is never a good thing. So, I asked why, and he told me the toilet was clogged, because–get this: he threw a NECTARINE CORE in it. I mean, really??? Like, who thinks that is a good idea? Here is what it looked like before I had to manhandle it and get it out.

SERIOUSLY??

Last, but not least, I am 35 today! (er…) I am so excited, because my son told me I actually look ten years younger since I lightened my hair and cut it! Now that I have no job, I actually have time to go to the hair salon, since it honestly takes three hours (I timed it both times). #silverliningofpenury

(My) School is in Session! And, Home Ec Returns!

I have officially taken matters into my own hands, and I began homeschooling today. I needed some sort of routine, not only for myself but also for my children. Here was the situation: I was on the couch with coffee, thinking of maybe turning on Bravo to waste away the early morning hours while the kids were asleep, and, lo and behold, they were awake! And again on their iPads.

I started to feel pangs of guilt and was torn between Million Dollar Listing and being a good parent. It was a tough one… Ha! But, I am proud to say, I yelled up the stairs, “Kids! Get dressed! Brush your teeth! We are having school today!”

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Breakfast is served (Dannon smoothie), and pencils are sharpened!

They were confused. “Wait, what?” That’s right, peops. Make the bed, pull your act together, and we are done with this lackadaisical, sedentary, gluttonous behavior (I was sort of talking to myself). I had them each pick out a chapter book. She picked Junie b. Jones, and he picked out something about sharks and walruses, one of those “Who Would Win?” books. You know who is winning today? ME! I kicked it into high gear, created some math worksheets, and I taught her about carrying over and subtraction. (Oh, and I had to use my fingers to count once. That’s kind of embarrassing? Shhh).

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She even got dressed in a glitter headband. I think she was excited!

We did reading, wrote an essay (okay, a few sentences about the problem in the book and the solution), math, and then…get this: I had them do laundry! That’s right. This school brought back Home Economics. Remember that? That’s kind of old-school. Well, it SHOULD be mandatory curriculum, because my children are seriously lacking in the folding laundry department, and I could use some little elves to help around here.

Remember when our parents had kids just to do chores? I feel like I was born with an apron and a dusting mitt on. (Sorry, mom. No, you did a good job, but I mean so did I…with cleaning).

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Cursory folding job. Grade: B-

It’s only 11:00, though, and they are done with school. Next up: recess outside. I guess this is a half-day. Contact me if you’d like to sign up for my school. There will be an (A) cohort and a (B) cohort, scattered drop-offs, mercurial schedules, lots of emails, and no remote learning. Mmmkay? Oh, and have them dressed ready to do chores!

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My Daughter told me to Chill

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“Mom, I know you want to hang out with me, but I’m actually kind of popular? So you might have to chill, because I have to call my friends.”

This is what my 8-year-old said to me. 

I almost died laughing. But, then, I got scared that she will not want to play with me anymore!  The saying “they grow up so fast, in the blink of an eye” never resonated with me–until now. I used to balk when people would say that to me in the grocery store, as my two kids dangled off the cart. I’d reply, “Really? ‘Cause this ‘aint so fun right now, and time’s moving awfully slowly.”

I kind of had that feeling again this year when I had to do remote homeschool and work full-time. I was exasperated and couldn’t wait till 5:00. When the kids were babies, 5:00 marked the time I could feed them and then put them to bed expeditiously so I could relax with a TV show and a glass of wine. Now, they are up till I go to sleep. 

It’s funny, because parents wait for this time, a time when they can be at home together as a family and not actually have to play! And, now, I see a baby and think, “Wait, am I too old? I want one! They smell so good!”( Er, yeah…I know I’m too old…)

I look in my daughter’s room, and she has her perfume bottles lined up just-so, and her hair things and jewelry.

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The wooden crib of stuffed animals hasn’t been touched in some time. “Where is Penny?” I asked the other day, referring to the beanie baby she used to adore that we’d create funny stories about. “I can’t find her,” she said.

I feel like Penny.

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This is what Penny looks like

I shouldn’t say woe is me, because the upside is I have time for myself now (i.e. time to clean). And, this is a very nice thing.

We played Old Maid the other night. My son is afraid of the Old Maid, so much so that he doesn’t want to play. Wait, as an aside, how rude is it that the loser is someone stuck with the Old Maid? First off, I could use an Old Maid to clean my house. Secondly, an Old Maid could also just be some fun party chick, who never got married or had kids, and she’s a blast to hang with. No? I’m voting for the Old Maid. Anyway, I digress. It was so fun to play cards with them, laughing and screeching when the maid was passed about! I wanted to play again and again.

I certainly don’t long to revert to those days in the grocery store when I’d be told I had my hands full, but I sure do miss my children scurrying about in their jammies, and me being her number one friend.

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To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool? That is the Question.

Who here is struggling with whether or not to homeschool in the fall? I am raising my hand virtually, because I can’t decide! I mean, on the one hand, I am totally in fear of the fact that I will have to be their teacher again, and I’m gonna be honest…I wasn’t that great at it! Not only did I lack some real patience, but I also let them have recess too long, and I skimmed over some stuff, and I totally let them take advantage of me, like we used to do when we told the substitute we were never given homework on Tuesdays.

On the other hand, I don’t want to send them to school and worry each day that they’re carrier monkeys who didn’t wear their masks, or didn’t wash their hands, and did not keep their distance at recess. I can say now from my observations this summer, that when kids get together, the distance seems to go out the window. So then, I think, “Okay, let’s just bite the bullet, and I will step up and be a good teacher. I will have a curriculum, and I will stick to a schedule and I will forgo my life for the school year, even more so.”

Then…I sit on the couch and stare out the window, frozen, and think about making a run to the liquor store.

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Fact: I didn’t look like this. I was not smiling, and my hair isn’t that short.

So maybe I won’t make a decision. Isn’t that a decision? I just want people to decide for me. I remember going to therapy, and I’d ask the therapist, “Can’t you just tell me what to do?” And she’d be all, “No, that’s not my job! You have to figure that out for yourself. I can lead you in that direction, but I can’t make a decision for you.” Well that made my decision: not to go to therapy anymore…

Also, don’t our decisions constantly change? Or is that just me? For example, today, I implored my children to go to the beach with me. See how messed up that sounds? Like, I have to beg someone to go to the BEACH? How ’bout y’all get a job, and then we can talk about how painful the beach is… Anyway, so my daughter says to me, “No! I’m not going so you can sit on your can in the sun and not swim!”

SIT ON MY CAN!

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What I sit on

Can you believe she said that to me? First off, where’d she get that expression (#guilty?). Second, I had to not laugh (even though it was kinda hysterical) and tell her that she better shape up and stop disrespecting me.

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So we decided not to go to the beach and instead to go to the Vineyard on the ferry boat. Good plan? Okay, maybe. So I go get dressed, walk the dogs, get ready to roll, and the kids are not moving. They’re now settled in with their devices, playing Adopt Me and Shark Hunt, and now I’m pacing back and forth like a rabid hyena telling them we “NEED TO GO!” so we can find parking and get on the hot, COVID ferry only to ride over and be hot in a mask. They didn’t respond.

So I decided not to go to the Vineyard.

Now I am doing this.

See? I can’t make a decision. Can you? Homeschool or no? 

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