Tuesday, 4:15 PM: My husband leaves to teach his Intro to Marketing class at the University of Iowa. Thus begins the dreaded Tuesday night.
Usually these nights are exceedingly difficult. On some Tuesday nights, our kids need to be driven to yoga, basketball and Girl Scouts at three different times within the same hour. Fortunately on this night we don’t have to go anywhere, so I’m hoping things will run smoothly.
4:50: I realize we don’t have anything for dinner. I’m not finished with my work, so I’m going to have to pick it up later when I get home. I slam my laptop closed and hustle my toddler and teenager into the car.
5:00: I run through Hy-Vee grabbing random food items. And when I say random, I do mean random. I grab some cranberry-covered goat cheese (I had it at a party once and it was so good!) some fancy crackers, 3 lbs. of ground beef, buns, 2 cans of corn, a slab of dark chocolate, and some pre-cut fruit. That sounds like a decent meal, right?
5:28: I arrive at the after-school program with 2 minutes to spare. The kids run up to me and ask if we can go to Family Mileage Club.
I didn’t know about Family Mileage Club, and there’s no way we can attend since I’m flying solo, have work to finish, school work, and a blog post deadline. I say no, we have too much going on and I don’t have any help.
5:30: A wave of guilt washes over me. My kids will miss yet another fun school activity because I have to work and I don’t have help.
5:40: We arrive home. The boys offer to help; the 14-year-old will watch the toddler, and the 12 and 9-year-old will help make dinner while I sit at the table and tie up some loose ends from work. This is one of those moments where I’m proud of my kids.
6:00: The kids have a kitchen dance party while dinner is being made.
6:10: Everyone agrees that the goat cheese and fancy crackers are delicious, and they destroy the entire package in less than 10 minutes.
6:23: Someone hurts my daughter’s feelings. The inciting incident is unclear.
6:28: Things start to fall apart.
6:37: I kick everyone outside to run some laps and burn off their angst. The teenager takes the toddler to play in the toy room.
6:39: I have a few moments of quiet. I grab my laptop and start my homework.
6:48: My daughter storms into the house. One of her brothers wronged her somehow. She airs her grievance and goes back outside. I continue my schoolwork.
6:57: My teenager brings the toddler up from the toy room. “I’m sick of watching him,” he says. “Aren’t you done with your work yet? Sheesh.”
We get into a big fight. I send him to his room. He stomps up the steps and slams the door.
7:05: My daughter comes and reports that her brothers are playing with bricks and golf clubs out in the yard. I yell everyone inside. The 12-year-old sits down and watches TV with the toddler, and the 9-year-old begins to clean up the kitchen.
7:10: My sister calls, and I spend about a half an hour on the phone with her because I am in desperate need of adult conversation and a laugh.
7:40: Since I was on the phone, I didn’t notice that my 9-year-old didn’t finish cleaning the kitchen. We get into a fight.
7:45: I tell my daughter to take a shower and get ready for bed. We get into a fight.
8:20: My husband comes home. He finishes cleaning the kitchen, bathes the toddler and puts him to bed.
I retreat to the office with my schoolwork. I lock the door behind me and breathe a huge sigh of relief.
I stick headphones in my ears and dive in. My boring communication ethics homework seems like a tropical vacation.
Considering how our Tuesday nights usually go, this one wasn’t so bad. And throughout all of the work, mess, fights and chaos, I know I’m not the only parent struggling to keep it together.
So when you have a night full of ups and downs (or worse) just remember this: