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3:53 on a Wednesday Afternoon

February 2, 2011

I’m sitting on my couch right now, in my loungewear.  I haven’t yet made it to the shower, but I have had several conference calls, shoveled the mini-deck, to ensure it doesn’t collapse under the weight of 6 storms’ worth of snow, marshaled several 13 year olds in and out of the house, made [warmed up] lunch for Lemon and myself, and cleaned out my Keurig.

Thank you, snow.

Even if you did turn to rain at a ridiculously early hour, dashing my hopes for snow higher than my head (when added to the previous storms …)

It’s nice to have a mid-week break.

[Cue weird kaleidoscope screen and warbly music indicating a flashback]

Before I moved back east and went to law school, and before WD and I were living together/married, I worked as a paralegal/legal assistant for a solo family law practitioner in Oakland, California.  I made enough money to cover rent and childcare and decent meals.  The girls and I were not totally destitute.  We lived in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country and had a decent amount of space.  Things were pretty good.

But I was sad about how little time I had with them.  We would get up early in the mornings, and I would put them on a school bus.  Then I’d hop on my bike and get to work by 9:10.  I would leave at 5, and pedal like mad (up a huge-ass hill) to get to their extended day program before it closed at 5:30.  Then we’d take a city bus from their school to our home – with my bike mounted on the front of the bus – and trudge in the door after 6.  If the bus was running late (as it often was), it was WELL after 6.  Mouse was a high sleep need child, so she’d often crash into the bed shortly before 8.

It wasn’t the life I’d envisioned.  I’d pictured myself in their classrooms occasionally, having their friends over after school, greeting them with cookies or some other home made treat.  [I bet if I did stay an at-home mom, that baking would have never happened …]  But life didn’t work out that way.  My marriage didn’t work out that way.

Fortunately, I had a relatively flexible employer who valued me as her employee, and who agreed to a reduced time schedule WITHOUT a reduction in pay.  (Whaaa?  Sounds nothing short of miraculous to me right now.)  Yeah.  She let me take Wednesdays off.

The girls and I LOVED our Wednesdays.

I still put them on the bus, but then I went home and had a cup of coffee and did other things around the house.  I was at their school by 10 a.m. (which wasn’t far away – maybe 1/2 mile –  we only used the bus in the morning because it allowed me to head toward work earlier).  At 10, I checked in with Mouse’s kindergarten teacher and got my marching orders.  I spent two hours helping to wash paint off little hands, reading stories, helping with handwriting, and generally enjoying those freaking adorable kids.  Mouse loved having me there.  It really made her day.

Then at noon, I went to the 2nd grade classroom.  Less stories for me to read, and no paint for me to wash – but there was still plenty to do.  We played math games, I helped with some of the earliest of book reports, I graded papers.  I loved getting to be a fly on the wall, watching the kids’ dynamics in the classroom.

After school, I had my weekly opportunity to chat with other parents while the kids played on the playground.  Then we’d walk down a short hill to one of my favorite parts of Berkeley, and head to the library.  Usually with many of the girls’ classmates and their parents.  The girls and I would then take our books, and maybe a friend or two, and head to the coffee shop.  They would have a lemonade and a cookie and I would have a cup of coffee, and we’d sit and look at our books, or chat with their friends.

We all three talk about those Wednesdays with much fondness.

Although – I think I was infinitely more exhausted at the end of a Wednesday than I was on any other day of the week!

I wonder what it would be like now, if I had Wednesdays off again.  I think it would be more me-time than kid-time.  I know it wouldn’t be spent volunteering in classrooms!  Can you imagine?  Me showing up at Lemon’s high school, following her from class to class, asking the teachers, “What can I do to help you today?”  “Uhh, get your kid in therapy now, because she’s gonna need it!”

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