Pressure cooker!

Last Tuesday was Remy’s first day of play school and my first day at my new job, post maternity leave. The coordination of this household both Monday night and Tuesday morning made me marvel. Joy labeled everything from socks to rain pants, so Remy’s stuff would all come home with him. We’ve been buying solid color clothes for the dress code (Sassy rocks! We all know it was her.), finding random items we’ve never needed to purchase before (kid lunch boxes and rain pants), making sure we have multiples and that he’ll be comfortable at school, and all sorts of things! I packed everything up the night before, so the morning chaos would be minimized.

As I dropped him off, he got so quiet. He looked at me with slightly panicked eyes as it occurred to him that I was leaving him there alone. Not calling for an update was a really hard, but I knew he was in excellent hands.

I felt the same way at work. After a slow buildup, during which I met most of the senior leadership team and got to know the symphony better, I couldn’t be more delighted to be at work. I miss the kids, the way I always do, but hearing about new projects and initiatives that I will be participating in was exhilarating. The end of the day came incredibly quickly, and I nearly skipped back to the car in joy.

Remy loved school, and all of my worries were gone when I saw him playing with sticks outside the school at the end of the day with another little boy. The teachers said Remy adjusted faster than any kid they’d ever seen. He took to school like a fish to water, and even though I waited until the other kids had all left before I put him in the car, he looked disappointed to leave.

Remy and I had such a short drive home that we didn’t get to talk much. Our power was out all day at the house, which meant dinner was crazier than usual. Dave did his usual awesome best, but even saints have their limits! The night was beautiful, warm with a gentle breeze. We ate dinner on the terrace, if you can call our scramble to feed the kids a meal that: burnt grilled pizza, an inconsolable Griffin – who rolled over for the first time that day! – and hungry kiddos made the whole thing a little overwhelming.

Somewhere in the midst of that, we tried our Skype call with Amy. Because of the power outage, our Internet service was terrible. Dave ended up skyping from his phone while I tried to let Remy share his first day of school stories with me. The Skype call kept dropping and Griffin kept sobbing. Remy handled it well, but I was so frustrated to not be able to celebrate his first day and mine with our family. On top of that, the guilt of disappointing Amy weighs so heavily on us.

Our lives are so complicated right now as the kids start school and we find our new rhythm with my job. We know Amy is experiencing traumatic loss, as she sees Lilou growing up across the country. We are really struggling to balance our needs as a family against her needs for constant contact as she goes through this transition. (She’s been very patient with us.) We want to be there for her, and yet sometimes it feels like we’re pulled in all directions at once.

We feel like this across the board sometimes. We rarely get to Skype with Dave’s family, and we don’t get to even see family in town as much as we’d like to. With Lilou and Griffin needing morning naps, and their naps not quite aligning with the big kids’ in the afternoon, so much of our family time is crammed into 7:30 to 9 o’clock in the morning and 5 o’clock to 7:30 at night, when the kids are all awake and alert. Those windows feel minuscule, especially when there’s meals to cook, groceries to buy, toys to organize, laundry to do, and actual parenting to accomplish. I now understand how parents can slip into being friends instead of parents sometimes. Who wants to lay down the law and cause a tantrum when quality time with the kids is so limited?

Tuesday night left me with a very heavy heart. I asked Tess and Remy for hugs after tucking Lilou in, sat on the floor holding them and finally getting a little conversation about their days. While we talked, it got dark outside. After those few precious minutes, we tucked them into bed and sang them some songs. Tomorrow is another day. We’ll continue to carve out every minute with our kids that we can. Does it ever feel like enough?

Update:

Second working Tuesday, Tess’ first day of school! Despite forgetting her inside shoes and piece of fruit for the crumble they were baking, Tess had a wonderful day. Remy enjoyed his start to the second week as well, although he started off with a bang that left Dave remorseful at work! We got smarter, and had Joy do a crockpot dinner so we could talk to Amy in peace. I sat with Remy while he finished dinner and Dave and Lilou talked to Amy for a good half hour without any drama from kids crazy with hunger and exhaustion. Huge improvement! It took the entire Labor Day weekend for us to get prepared, make some adjustments, and get some sleep all around. We are thinking by the time we get to October, we may actually have a functional routine. 🙂

In the meantime, we are all enjoying a lovely round of plague. I’m drinking a hot toddy as I write this, and we’ve been sucking the snot out of the two babies for multiple days. School really has started.