7:15 am and I hear the baby cooing. Or is it older kids talking? Oh, it's both. The baby has been up again during the night, a bunch of times, too many to count.
Is it dark? No, it's getting light. Where is my husband? His bag is gone, he must have gotten called up and I slept through.
The younger kids are cuddling in 5 yo's bed. Time to get them dressed. It is menorah painting day, so they need ratty clothes. 5 yo starts arguing that what I picked out is too nice. I tell her that it will be OK to get paint on it.
The baby is cooing. Will I have to drive the younger ones to school? When will I nurse her? I set up her babysitter so I can go to taekwondo with the boys, but if I have to drive, I might not make it back on time. I will definitely not have enough time to nurse her before dropping her off.
Where are the boys? Are they playing the new Pokemon game downstairs? Is my husband possibly in shul, and coming back to drive the kids?
I text him, he's on his way back from an early delivery, but he won't be back till 8:30. OK, get his breakfast in order, get myself dressed, make oatmeal for 5 yo, pour cereal for 2 yo. The boys are just getting up, pulling the shtick of late rising.
Start making coffee; I'll try to stall on nursing till closer to 8. She nursed the whole night, she should be fine. Here, sit in the highchair, eat a piece of mushy banana and a muffin.
Where is the insulated coffee mug? It is in the dishwasher which is dirty. Wash the mug, so my husband can take his coffee to go.
The baby throws the leftovers of banana on the floor.
My husband texts me that there is a lot of traffic and he will be getting in at 8:50. The kids need to be at school by 9. It takes half an hour to get to school in the morning.
Say brachot, and think: he's sitting in traffic, just to get home, grab the kids and breakfast and turn around and go back. He will be late to the office. I should drive.
But if I drive, I don't have time to eat breakfast. I will have to nurse the baby now. I might not make it in time to drop her off and still get to taekwondo. We might be late.
I decide to take them. I call my husband and tell him that. Spread butter on his bagel (I wanted some protein, but there is no time to make eggs, or to figure out what else to have). Wash, eat the bagel while nursing the baby.
Shoot, I only made fish sticks for lunches, and I didn't pack anything else. mad rush to get the lunch boxes, and shove some snacks in. "Don't step on the banana on the floor!" Shoes for all, grab my uniform, tell boys to run the dishwasher while I'm gone, daven and get started on the schoolwork, Tell them to be all ready by 9:30, so I can just pick them up.
Buckle everyone up. It's a good thing that it is warm, so I do not need to preheat the car. No jackets to wrestle with, either.
We drive. In the morning, Waze takes me on a different route than in the afternoon. More traffic lights, more stop-and-go. We listen to the iPod. I get lost in my thoughts.
Chanukah is coming. I need to plan something fun. I need to plan a family dinner and invite my in-laws. We have not been invited out for a meal in months. We have five kids; it is too much for most people. I need to invite others for Shabbos meals. What about that new homeschooling family? I need to be social.
I get to school. The kids happily clamber out, 2 yo waving to his teacher. "He's always so happy!" They love the school. It is a constant, a happy place.
I drive back. I just get home by 9:30. The boys jump in and we drop the baby off. She wakes up as I pull up at the sitter's. I run and hope that she will last till I'm done with taekwondo.
Change quickly into the uniform. I have to review the forms with the boys, I haven't done them for the past two weeks and before that there wasn't enough practice for my muscles to remember what to do. The boys are gracious teachers, going over the steps with me, and practicing whatever I ask.
The workout feels brutal, especially after my break. My legs shake, but I do it. I feel strong and powerful. I forget about Chanukah planning, about schoolwork that still awaits. I focus on repetitions of the side kick.
When I change back at the end of class, I find a message from the babysitter, diplomatically wondering when the baby nursed last. The time stamp is from 20 minutes ago. A wave of guilt washes over me: here I am, self-improving, and she was probably yelling her head off. I text that I'm on my way.
When I pick her up, she's outside with the babysitter. She's not crying, so I finally exhale. She fusses the second I start placing her in the car seat and I briefly wonder about nursing her now. But I drive home, get the boys to open the house and bring in my bags while I sit down to nurse. She falls asleep while nursing and transfers to the crib.
I exhale again.
I get to eat lunch. The boys eat lunch of their own making. I rush them on, so we can get some schoolwork done before afternoon carpool, before the baby wakes up and I will need to finish nursing her.
We do chumash. They do everything else on their own. 11 yo really needs to add more to his day. His mishna teacher is no longer available to teach. For Judaics, I am only able to do chumash. 9 yo was upset about chumash yesterday, but today it goes smoothly. I do not prepare for him, I still remember VaYetze from last year. I remember the Rashis, too. I am getting to mastery. For 11 yo, I have to prepare. The language is different, and there is no narrative. Rashi cites gemarot and opinions which I have not heard before.
The baby wakes up. The boys trip over each other to take her out of the crib. 11 yo mentioned earlier how he misses her, For once, we finished Chumash without interruption. I nurse her. I make a chai latte for my afternoon drive. Now that the dishwasher has been run, I have a clean insulated mug. A piece of chocolate completes the afternoon pick-me-up.
I drive to get the kids from school. They are talking about Alfred Hitchcock's work on NPR. I have never seen Psycho, but when will I get the time? I get the kids and drive to pick up our betta fish from a friend. The kids are quiet in the back seat because the NPR is switched to iPod. The baby is asleep.
I get home and 2 yo does not want to get of his car seat unless I unbuckle him. His fussing wakes up baby. I need to nurse her, again. 9 yo is up to math, and he is having new issues. I still have not made dinner.
I text my husband and he's not coming home till later, much later. I nurse the baby and wonder whether I should be organizing something for Chanukah for the local homeschoolers. 9 yo moved to to have issues with his spelling words which need to be organized in an alphabetical order. I asked 11 yo to peel the potatoes, but he walked away.
I prepare dinner. First I decide that there will be no potatoes. Then I relent from punishing us all and decide not to give any to 11 yo. The baby is crawling into the kitchen, Is that chipped paint that she's licking off the floor? Why does she decide to start crawling when my housekeeping skills are at an all-time low?
I get her to sleep and hustle everyone to set up for dinner. 11 yo does want those potatoes, but I'm firm. And it's a shower night. And I'm still alone.
There was an ice-skating event for the women tonight, a chance to socialize and hang out. I forgot until the pictures started pouring in. I wanted to go. It is not happening. Is that why we have no Shabbos invites, since I don't see anyone?
9 yo washes 2 yo. "I even changed his dirty diaper and wiped him!" Thank you, child. I wash 5 yo. Then I beg the kids to watch the baby so I can take an early shower. I don't know how late my husband will come back. I don't know how long the baby will be up.
I read a story to 5 yo, tuck her in. I nurse the baby to sleep. I look up summer sleep away camp for boys. Darn, we already missed the deadline for one of the grants. I'm in a bit of sticker shock from the price. I share it with the boys and tell them that I will discuss the whole thing with daddy. 9 yo immediately decides that this means that he's not going and starts ruminating about it. I send them to sleep.
At 9 pm, my husband walks in. At 9:05, the baby gets up.
What am I doing wrong?
What am I supposed to be doing differently?
How did I trade the stress of five kids in the house for the stress of carpool?
When am I supposed to get any time to do something for my enjoyment?