When Dave got home from work on Friday he found me in the kitchen, gave me a big bear hug and said "Feeling a little stressed out?"
"Yes." I said with a probing look. How did he know? Was it so obvious that he walks in and can tell?
"I read your blog today" he explained and then continued teasingly, "You always wanted to be a stay at home mom. These things come with the territory."
"Yes," I again replied with a grimace and a slouch, "these are good problems to have."
The problems I am referring to are, of course, the sadness I feel sending my kids off to school again and the chaotic rush of busyness that goes along with them being back in school. I wrote about both of these things in posts last week. But it is more than just the school and schedules that are stressing me out right now and Dave knows that too.
A big stressor at this very moment is the after summer mess that I now must face. This is a yearly phenomenon around here because I really let things slide during the summer. Oh, there are clean clothes and dishes (usually), plenty of food all stored properly in a decently clean fridge, floors are walkable (though not always bare foot friendly), but the nitty gritty scrubbing of appliances and dusting in the corners and vacuuming under the beds and cushions does absolutely, positively, not get done in the summer time--I'm too busy having fun with the kids. With school back in session the fun is done and now I've got work to do. My house is a mess and I've got to get in some good fall cleaning.
Another big stressor is the stupid car that is sitting in my front yard waiting to be sold. It was supposed to be sold shortly after purchasing Dave's new truck earlier this year. Every time we put it on the market something breaks so we have to take it off the market. When we get the problem fixed then something else goes wrong. At first there were big things like the windows started fogging up: screwed up hoses and compressors. Got it fixed and then the driver's window popped off the tracks. Got it fixed and then someone smashed in the passenger window. Got it fixed and then the tires got a hole. Last weekend Dave replaced the tires and then the new tire got a gash in it this weekend. Either that car really likes our side yard or my 14 year old is sabotaging it in hopes that he'll get it if he can keep this up for 2 more years. Neither one is likely. I'm sick of my front yard looking like a used car lot. Anyone wanna buy a car? Cheap?
The biggest stressor however has nothing to do at all with being a stay at home mom, managing a household or managing assets and finances. Or maybe it has everything to do with it. My biggest way-out, total-stress-out, is trying to get my classes done in time for me to graduate in December. This is way harder than it was 15 years ago when I was on campus and had nothing else to do but study and hang out with my hubby. It occupies so much of my time and my head space. It is totally distracting. I can't enjoy a movie or a night out without thinking I should be studying. All day everyday, from the time the kids leave until they get back home, I am studying. While waiting for them in the parking lot I am studying. While sitting on the sidelines of a soccer or waterpolo game I am studying. When I'm making dinner I'm thinking about my homework. When I'm reading bedtime stories to the kids I'm worrying about my next round of tests. And when I'm lying in bed at night I'm counting down lessons and trying to compute how many I must complete each day to get them all done before my deadlines. Currently that count is at 3 lessons a day. But you know if something comes up and I'm forced to skip a day that count goes up. Each lesson takes a minimum of an hour. One class is about 2 hours per lesson. I have 6 classes to finish: only finals for History and Religion; 3/4 of a semester of Statistics and another Religion course; and a full semesters worth of Biology and Calligraphy (the only art I could take through Independent Study).
Oh, what a complainer I am being. Dave is right, I am doing exactly what I always wanted to do. I have my dream job: I am a stay-at-home mom with four beautiful, smart, active children whom I must manage and shuttle around and feed. I have a nice home in a nice neighborhood full of nice things, all of which I must keep clean and organized. I have an extra car that I'd like to get rid of but it doesn't require payments and if I don't want to fix it I don't have to--I'd like the proceeds of a sale but I don't need them. And lastly, I get to go to school and finish my degree even though I don't plan to do anything with it AND I will be, must be, done in just under 11 weeks.
Yeah, these are good problems to have. I'll shut up now.