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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

ABC's and PhD's: "New Year's" Resolutions
September 2, 2009 - 8:29am

Every year at this time I re-evaluate my daily schedule and get ready for the start of the new year. It’s that time when I try to get a head start on anticipated back-to-school dramas by making lists of things to remember to send to school on the first day, waking up earlier in the mornings so that the first week of school preparations won’t be so difficult, and marking the start of after school activities on the calendar so we can get the routine settled for each day. In the process of getting ready for school to start again, I decided it would also be a good time to organize the house and get rid of accumulated clutter. A de-cluttered house and a new routine that will work like clockwork … great resolutions for the second “new year”.

I started a few weeks ago with house cleaning and getting rid of accumulated stuff and clutter. It seemed like a good idea to get a little bit of advice first (like a typical scientist I couldn’t just jump in and start without researching the matter), so I consulted a few magazine articles and books. Some were inspirational (I’d have a whole new outlook on life and a de-cluttered mind once I cleaned up my messes); others required that I sit down over several days, engage in some deep soul-searching and self-analysis, and do written exercises to determine the root cause of my packrat behavior; and still another book recommended that to truly clean up my life and surroundings I’d also have to cleanse my body and de-clutter my colon too with special tonics. Hmmm. I think I’ll just stick with the house de-cluttering for now.

Next, to practice our new and improved get-ready-for-the-day routine I planned that this, our last week of summer holidays, would be the week to test-drive our new morning habits. My son has a sports camp this week starting at 9AM, brutally early for a kid by summer standards, but since it’s our usual school start time I thought it would be a good way to get us back on an early schedule. However, after late bedtimes last night and a couple of middle-of-the-night awakenings, none of us wanted to get going this morning. Late as usual, we raced out the door, jumped in the car, and then drove carefully down the road, maintaining the speed limit at all times, of course. Then we came to an intersection with a sign that said, “No left turn, 7AM to 9AM, buses only.” I really had to turn left and it was only five minutes before nine. Did I dare turn left? We were going to be late for my son’s first day of class, so I decided to go for it, only to find myself slowed down by a string of cars that had been pulled over by two police cars. They’d all done the same illegal turn I’d just pulled off! Gulp! I crept along waiting to be stopped at any minute, but the police were all too busy writing tickets to the other seven cars to bother with me. Boy, did I get lucky! Feeling very repentant I said to my son, “ I know what I did was wrong. So tomorrow we have to be ready on time so we can leave the house earlier and then I won’t have to make that illegal turn and get a ticket!” Later, upon relating the story to a friend she jokingly scolded me about the complex I was giving my son: he’s probably thinking, “It’s all my fault my mom did something illegal and got a ticket. All because I was so slow.”

I long for more organized mornings and a house where everything is in its place. I have fantasies about waking up at 4:30 or 5AM and after some stimulating yoga, I’d settle in to write in the quiet of the morning. Then, after getting so much accomplished I’d head to the kitchen where my husband would have homemade muffins or pancakes ready for breakfast. The children would wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, get themselves ready for the day with no reminders from us, and everyone would make it out the door with no need to break into a run. I’m sure this is all possible. But for our household to achieve that level of organization might call for something drastic, like cleansing our colons or something. I have a new resolution for the “new year”: no more illegal turns, no matter how late I am.

 

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