Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More poolside conversations

I'm just gonna keep running with this till swimming lessons are over. [This is apparently part of a series wherein I ponder aloud the conversations I've been having with another mom at swimming lessons.]

This week's poolside conversation revolved around kids' activities and mom's free time.

Free time is usually a hot topic among any group of mothers, no matter if mom works outside the home, works at a paying job at home, or is a homemaker; whether the kids are in school or not in school. But how did this conversation start?

My companion has mentioned a few times that her kids don't like swimming lessons. But it's more than that: her son in particular doesn't really want to be in any structured activities. He's about 10, I think, and she said that after school and homework he wants to do his own thing. Saturdays, too.

Well, wow, I thought - who can blame him? Every minute of his day is scheduled out, except for 20 minutes of recess each day. I'd guess a guy would want a little time to call his own after 7 or 8 hours of structured time. Don't most adults? But it's hard to say that to a near-stranger who isn't asking for advice and doesn't understand my point of view anyway.

S0 we talked about things like piano lessons and learning a foreign language for fun. And she said - did I imagine a wistful tone in her voice? - that there is nothing stopping her from learning to play the piano, or getting some foreign-language course and doing something different with her days. Because she has the time.

That's when I remembered that her other child is 6, so, perhaps in her first year of full-day school. And I'm thinking this mom doesn't quite know what to do with herself with her kids out of the house all day. I am not sure about this, but maybe I'll have a chance to explore that next week. Anyway, she went on to surmise that surely I had no free time at all, what with giving lessons, creating lessons, cooking, housework, etc. I just said that it isn't so much a matter of having no time, but using my time wisely. At that, she turned her attention to the lessons and asked the teacher, who had just swum up to our end of the pool, a couple of questions.

So I opened the magazine I'd brought and looked at recipes. I am continually looking for new recipes. And I pondered what life would look like if my kids were out of the house all day. I guess our house would be cleaner and we'd never have laundry emergencies. I could decorate it a bit, maybe even paint, and could do more gardening. Meals would always be glorious occasions because I would never have to put something together in a rush....

But my reverie was broken by my companion commenting on a recipe in the mag. And then talking about a common meal at her house: chicken thrown in the crockpot with a bottle of barbecue sauce poured over it. Now there is nothing wrong with that meal; we had a variation on it tonight (pork, ketchup, garlic, herbs, some other things I can't remember). Because even though we stayed home today, the Girl Scouts were here learning how to make skirts for their dolls. Anyway, back to the topic at hand - for all I know that's her emergency meal when the schedule is such that there's no time for more effort and most nights she cooks great meals all from scratch. So I'm not dissing her for that. But I couldn't help thinking, wow, she has all this free time, and she cooks like someone who doesn't.

So I figure, I get to have my kids at home, I get to help them learn things in the way they do it best, at their own paces, with plenty of time in the day to explore their own interests... and I can still make dinner just like moms who are home all day in empty houses.

I'll keep the kids, thanks.


A Beautiful Mind said...

Have I told you lately what an inspiration you are? I don't have kids, but not long ago I was a nanny and I am an auntie. I don't get the not being able to make a healthy, quick, easy, dinner. I have always been able to find ways to include the kids in the cooking or keep them entertained in the kitchen with me while I am cooking. Most meals I make don't take longer than 30 minutes and I have never had anyone of any age refuse to eat what I have made even if it is tofu. In short, I'm with you on this one!
Thanks for the love on my blog, too. If you do pick up one of DeLaune's books, I'd love to know what you think of her.

Jeanette said...

Great post! I have almost the same conversations myself.