Parenting: What dreams May come

Marc Lalonde
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I'm dreaming of June, as a matter of fact

parenting

The month of May is always a great time of year. The sun is shining, optimism reigns and often,  the thought of summer just around the corner tends to buoy the spirit even when everything is going pear-shaped around you.

I'm talking about the endless demands of May; demands on time and energy that seem innocuous at first but that seem to increase in volume and scope – and we let them, because it's warm out, the sun goes down later – and jeez, doesn't it just feel like summer?

Yep. Only we still have to drag our carcasses out of bed the next morning in time to dress, feed, water and transport children to school and make the commute into work. Some of you lucky parents out there have the luxury of just getting out the door and leaving first thing in the morning. I am jealous of these people.

I handle the drop-offs at school and day care in the morning and the pick-ups at night. My wife can't take care of these things because she takes the train into downtown for work. With a heavier workload lately, she's been leaving just a few minutes after sunrise and getting on the early train. Then at the end of the day, she comes home and collapses onto the couch after having something to eat – if she's up to it. From my end, it's less than ideal. For her, it's completely draining.

As a family, it makes me wonder: there's more to life than his, right? I mean, kids' activities are fun and everything, but genuine, true bonding moments are getting harder and harder to come by – and I can't see a future in which our demanding capitalist society will allow us to just stop for a while. April, with its wild variations of weather ranging from blizzards to 30C temperatures, felt like it was three months long, but May is starting to feel like that as well. Add to it social events – school barbecues, concerts, community events we've committed to showing up at and other family commitments – and suddenly, the idea of a quiet evening at home with nothing to do seems like heaven.

The kids, though, are managing to make it through the month in pretty good shape.  Our son, who at three and a half is the size of a seven-year-old, loves to climb, run and roughhouse outside, and after being cooped up all winter long, he has been able to use up all his energy and then some in these beautifully warm days we've been having. Our daughter is also flourishing in this nice weather (she loves wearing shorts), but she's been longing for the neighbourhood pool To open, and I hate to tell her she's got more than a month until that happens.

So I won't.

That said, though, part of me feels  a little bit like hanging on as long as humanly possible – emotionally speaking, of course – until the end of the month.

That's been traditionally my way of dealing with the feeling of being overwhelmed; I try to knock off items on my checklist, but when the checklist grows faster than items can be knocked off, the tension builds and builds – resulting in me lying in the fetal position on the floor crossing days off a calendar until June comes.

Fortunately, however, the small amount of time we do get at the end of the day – after the dinner dishes are cleared, homework is done and priorities have been taken care of – the satisfaction and warmth you get just hanging out together in that time frame doing absolutely nothing are crucial, and it's important not to get caught up in the big picture, because the small moments are what allow us, as a family, to climb out of these funks.

Long live quality time.

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