I had a strange choice of activities for tonight. Bay Meadows for the final weekend of horse racing before they close -- I've never been to the races and have always wanted to go -- or a unique "Poetry Walk" through the deYoung Museum with Poet Laureate Robert Hass and other Bay Area poets. Jon and I haven't been out on a date in what feels like months. We used to go every week but now, with no regular babysitter, that has fallen by the wayside. We're going to the races. I finally got a sitter confirmed at 7:30 this morning. I was going to go anyway with a group of the preschool parents but it will be more fun to have Jon there. There are so many poetry and literary events in this area and I don' t think I've made it to a single one this year, though I get announcements of readings and activities every week. That makes me sad.
It's been a tough year. Not tough as in too much work, but tough in that I never could get the schedule to work for me. Afternoon Pre-K at a parent co-op and another child in elementary school has meant constant driving back and forth and lots of volunteering. I liked every volunteer activity I did this year. They were all worthwhile and important causes, such as promoting literacy and parent education, running the elementary school Read-A-Thon and helping to keep our libraries open, and being there with my 5-year old son as he develops into a child equipped to handle the challenges of the next 17 years of school -- good groundwork for a lot of years. He has the skills now to work out conflicts and solutions with his friends and "not-friends." He has learned to hold a pencil pretty well and draw and write a little. He's been encouraged to get dirty and muddy and climb trees and learn all about the natural world. He's still a work in progress, of course, and his solutions are not always successful, but he has the skill set and knows how to practice it.
But I keep finding myself with nothing, or close to nothing, left over for me, for my own writing projects, for my own imagination, for friends, for even a walk. I went to the dentist yesterday and after the examination and cleaning, while I blissfully laid back and watched The View on TV (the bi-annual visits to the dentist the only times I ever watch daytime TV) the dentist informed me that my teeth were being ground away in the back and if I didn't stop I'd have to get crowns on all of them. "But I don't think I'm grinding my teeth," I exclaimed. "Just pay attention later," he said, "and you'll notice." I got home, and within the hour I found myself grinding my teeth. And my jaw ached. And I realized I'd been tuning it out because I "didn't have time."
So what the heck does all this have to do with anything? I don't want to grind all my teeth away. Every day for months I've been reciting my mantra, "August 27th, 8:25 a.m." That's when school starts up again (though it's not even out yet for this school year) and my son starts Kindergarten, and I can drop off both kids at the same place and same time, and I have every morning "free." Will I be able to say no to volunteering? It's going to have to be "No" to big events for sure. What about the pile-up of daily requests? I'll have to think about it. For sure I'll want to work in the classroom sometimes. Maybe an hour or so a week will be do-able. Maybe with less driving back and forth I won't be grinding my teeth to stubs. Maybe I can reclaim my life. This IS my life, I know that, and I want it that way -- this family, this life. But I'm desperate to get some balance, to not grind myself to dust.
I wish I could do the poetry walk, too. But I'm going to the darn sweaty racetrack tonight. I've been to bullfights in Spain but never the races here. I've always wanted to. And I'm going to love it.