Naively, I thought the extra-curricular activities might be easier to juggle this term. My daughter would be back to one ballet class a week, after doing two a week since just before Easter, and she would no longer be going to her tutor. So that was two activities less per week! Easy, right?
Er – no.
Because when my son informed me, with just a day’s notice, that his school rugby would now be on a Tuesday, it all came crashing down around my ears.
He was finishing rugby in one part of town at 5pm, except he often doesn’t come out until 5.10 or 5.20. My daughter had her ballet class in a completely different part of town at 5.30. If he finished on time and it wasn’t rush hour, I could do it. But it was rush hour and he would never finish on time. It was impossible.
I know it sounds silly, but it was a huge weight on my shoulders. A giant jigsaw puzzle I couldn’t solve. I actually shed tears over it. It’s a small thing, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. With so much other stuff going on in my life, so much stuff to balance, so many late nights, so much silly teenage behaviour to deal with, it was too much.
I felt like the whole house of cards that is our carefully constructed lives came caving in on me.
Because it is all me. My husband doesn’t get involved with the extra-curricular activities, apart from football.
I could ask for help, of course. But I hate asking for help. I’d like a nice, regular reciprocal arrangement with another parent, so I wouldn’t feel guilty accepting help.
I’ve offered help to other parents in the past. If I’m going to a ballet class anyway, what difference does it make if I take an extra child? But I know that parent can’t help me in my hour of need.
Plan A – help with rugby – failed. Maybe it can be salvaged for the future. We regularly take another child to football, so I don’t have any qualms about accepting lifts in return for rugby.
So I tried plan B – help with ballet. That worked, thank goodness! But that’s only one week. Do I ask if it can become a more permanent arrangement, or do I carry on worrying myself every week?
My husband says he or my parents might be able to help out some weeks. But some weeks isn’t good enough. I need to know that someone is going to help out every week.
And if that doesn’t work? My husband has a simple solution: ‘They’ll have to give something up’.
But it’s not that simple, is it? How do I say to my talented daughter, ‘Sorry, I know you’re a really good ballet dancer, but you won’t be able to do grade 3 because your brother is at rugby’. Or maybe I should say, ‘Sorry, you can’t play for the school A team because your sister is at ballet’.
It won’t happen, will it? It can’t happen. I’ll be broken into tiny little pieces, completely unable to cope with life, before I do that to my kids.