My Daughter’s Life Is Taking Over Mine
I sat in front of my computer the other day paralyzed. Literally, I couldnâ€™t move. I was completely overwhelmed trying to figure out my daughterâ€™s after-school schedule. And then â€“ just what I needed! â€“ an e-mail came in for overnight camp next summer, telling me that sign-up was now open. Two seconds later, another e-mail arrived in my inbox about an orientation meeting for parents with children in classes at The National Ballet School, where my daughter is enrolled.
I did not know what to do first, what to tackle first, and how it would all come together. Along with trying to figure out my child’s music lessons and dance classes, along with the numerous activities they offer at her school after classes during the week, I seriously thought that Iâ€™d need an Excel spreadsheet to figure it all out. If I signed her up for musical theater at her school, then sheâ€™d miss her hip-hop dance classes that sheâ€™s been doing for two years. If I signed her up for music on Wednesdays, which she did last year, then sheâ€™d miss out on ballet classes offered at her school. And where would her singing lessons fit in? And piano?
In the midst of trying to figure out which programs to choose â€“ and when and where â€“ the e-mails came in about the orientation for dance and signing up for camp (which, as Iâ€™ve learned, you must sign up almost a year before camp starts to guarantee a spot). Then her father suggested another camp that he had heard good things about, and so I had to make a mental note to look into that camp, and thatâ€™s when I realized, â€œShit! Her birthday is less than a month away and I havenâ€™t booked a venue.â€
I had two choices. I could cry, because I was so confused and had no one to help me navigate what I should be signing my daughter up for and on what days. I needed someone to calm me down while I worried I would miss a sign-up deadline â€“ and what if the venue my daughter wants her birthday party at was full since her party is only three weeks away (which also means I have to get invitations out!). Or I could sit there, paralyzed. I choose the latter, although â€œchooseâ€ is not exactly the right word.
I really was so overwhelmed by all the choices I could sign her up for, and trying to figure out what would work and not work on what days, and I also felt pressured, too, to sign her up for overnight camp next summer. So I just sat there. And sat there. And sat there. For a half an hour I just sat there. And then I cried a little.
There are two things that led me to be so overwhelmed that I was literally paralyzed. First, Iâ€™m not the most organized person. But Iâ€™m trying. Though with so many options available these days for children, itâ€™s almost impossible for me to wrap my head around all of it. Second, although it may seem that Iâ€™m an over-programming parent, Iâ€™m not. Itâ€™s my daughter who wants to join all these classes and activities, and I just want her to be happy and enjoy all that life now has to offer to a seven-year-old. Which is a lot! At her school alone, they offer knitting and tennis and animal sciences after school, to name a few. What if she wants to do those, too?
Amazingly, the people who helped calm me down were the mothers at her school. I had to pick my daughter up â€“ not having accomplished signing her up for anything â€“ and as I sat in the playground waiting for my daughter to come out of class, I got into a conversation with another mother who, turns out, was as frazzled as I was. â€œTry having two kids at private schools,â€ she sighed. â€œI have no idea if my head is even on right. I canâ€™t even worry about signing up for things yet because Iâ€™m trying just to figure out how Iâ€™m going to pick them up from school each day!â€
There is something about having too many options. As an example, in the old days, before Starbucks was part of our vocabulary, I would go to a coffee place and order, um, a coffee with milk. Now Iâ€™m one of those, â€œCan I have a banana chocolate smoothie, with double protein powder, half the amount of chocolate, with soy milk, and can you please put that in a large plastic cup instead of the normal one? Oh, and lots of ice. Thanks!â€
The next day I decided to tackle it all. I called the birthday place first and luckily, the day was available. I booked it. Then I called the school to sign her up for ballet. Then I made a list of upcoming activities I need to sign her up for â€“ and I felt very accomplished. I think, somehow, it will work out. Or not. But I do know my daughter needs her own day timer.
Oh, how life has changed since I was seven.
Do you ever get so overwhelmed planning your child(ren)’s schedules? Share!