Basketball season has begun, which means a number of things. Monday through Saturday practices/games/scrimmages. Packed weeknights. My daughter's first chance to play for a school team.
A totally different after school schedule.
Since she started sixth grade last year, my daughter has walked from "her" (middle) school to "my" (elementary) school. This arrangement has had its good times and not so good times, ranging from days where she generously volunteered her time to help in my building, to days where I wondered what had possessed me to think this plan was such a good idea.
But for better or for worse, it meant that my daughter and I connected at least an hour earlier than we would if she rode the bus home. On good days, it meant car rides home together, with my daughter sitting beside me in the front seat, telling me about her day.
For the first few days after practices began, it seemed really weird not having her show up 45 minutes before my day ended, and even weirder driving home alone. As we've begun to adapt to the new schedule, it seems less weird, but still, I miss seeing her after school.
And yet, it's not all bad. On nights when she doesn't have a game, my work day ends anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half before her practice is over. On those days, I head home to an empty house. Some people might find this sad. I find it blissful.
My husband and my daughter are both people who like background noise, but to me, nothing is more relaxing than the sound of silence. And, with no homework or chores to remind my daughter of, and no one needing anything from me, I find myself with time. Time to nap. Time to write. Time to accomplish. Time to myself.
This all comes to a crashing halt when my daughter returns home, sweaty and bearing homework, but most days, the hour to myself is enough to sustain me. To provide me with an infusion of patience, which allows me to be the mom I want to be.
This mom does not nag, or berate or roll her eyes. She has time, energy and the wherewithal to withstand the frayed nerves and frustration that come at the end of a thirteen-year-old's overly busy day. She smiles and does not grit her teeth or mutter.
Unfortunately, this mom only shows up on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or maybe Mondays and Wednesdays. In any event, she drops in, but does not always stay. Somewhere between making dinner and prodding my daughter to study for the French test that mysteriously appeared on the schedule, the glow from the nap dims. The creative problem-solving engendered by the writing session fades. Super Mom sheds her cape, and Real Mom reappears.
As we continue to adjust to this new schedule, I'm hoping for more days where I can coax Super Mom out of hiding. Till then, Real Mom will take advantage of the time she has, in an effort to be more like her counterpart. Word on the street is that all it takes is a nap to turn Real Mom into Super Mom. I'm certainly willing to test that hypothesis.