Falling into Routines

This post is a long list of all the things I have done– simply because I want to remember.

In October my dear friend Khala visited. Her kids are close in age to my own kids, and it was like a 24-7 playdate. She brought her minivan. If there is anything my kids want for their birthday, it’s a minivan. Because 4 toddlers plus a minivan equals happiness, we did more things in a week than I typically do in a season.  Here’s my list:

  1. Zipline and Pumpkin Picking We ate pumpkin pie, apple cider frosties, and donuts at Wightman Farms. The kids went on the 20 min hay ride 3 times and played in a corn pit.  I saw kids of all ages cover themselves in corn and fill bucketloads and truckloads of dry corn. They buried themselves in it. It looked so good, I decided to take off my ASICS and enter the corn pit myself. The sounds and feel of the dry corn is this poor-woman’s version of the spa. Of course, we picked apples and pumpkins too.  
  2. Animals I Never Heard Of in the Middle of NYC – We experienced dip-n-dots for the first time at Central Park Zoo. As a New Yorker, I heard about the zoo growing up, but to experience it as a parent was magical. I personally think Queens Zoo is better.
  3. Flying Cranes At Diggerland, we operated a crane truck and went fishing for ducks in machines the kids could operate on their own. An excavator-shaped carousel careened until I thought I would vomit. Uncle J won some toys for the kids in the arcade. A 300 foot zip-line was my personal highlight– especially since I am very scared of heights.
  4. My friend Kai dressed up as a honeybee for our coop’s lesson at the local honey farm. They brought home local honey, and familiarized themselves with the anatomy of bees. 
  5. Farm School – We went to Fernbrook Farms where the kids spent an hour (but felt like hours) feeding goats what Ali called “crunchy leaves”.  We walked around the property, and my friend shared her dreams of owning a farm. We feasted on an impromptu picnic of mushroom pizza. We also managed to visit a park in Princeton for forrest school.
  6. Meals Together – We ate brunch together — our group of 8— outside, with a glorious American flag waving above head.  I had my favorite crepe, the kids ate burgers, and my friend ordered Afghan food. Just enjoying a meal outside in October, it felt so good. 
  7. We attended a mawlid where the kids raced inside the empty masjid and we prayed in a gigantic white tent strung with beautiful lights. My kids were in the children’s program, while I hung out with adults. There were so many mom-friends at the place, that I could truly relax. We stopped at a friend’s house for tea and snacks before the program began. Khala cried tears that she was able to experience this gathering of hearts from all over. I appreciated again that we live in a place that gives us access to NYC and Macungie PA in the same weekend.
  8. The gaggle of children followed us everywhere. My daughter cried for her khala many days, and both of them ask, when is khala coming back? When will we go see khala? The emotions in our home were high, as the kids constantly competed. As the eldest, my daughter led spontaneous story times multiple times a day to reset the high emotions. There were adventures in the backyard, and basement.
  9. One night, when the kids were almost asleep, Khala and I got to sneak out for bubble tea and rainbow cake. It might have been 30 or 45 minutes total. My husband watched/entertained 4 toddlers alone. I wanted to sit and eat together, alone, just the two of us, but of course, the pull of the children kept us efficient in our quest.
  10. Halal Hot Dogs in NYC: My kids loved eating hot dogs from New York City. These kids know how to dine at white tablecloth restaurants with full service, yet their favorite food is hotdogs from a cart. It was probably the best meal, according to the kids.

The Downside of Too Many Kids For Consecutive Days

Having a gaggle of children in the home — I honestly felt such intense emotions. I know my friends raise 4-5 kids every day, but I can only imagine how that is possible. Sometimes, I felt rage. I felt exasperation at the children, and even my friend who seemed so involved in their insane world of incessant books, demands, and wants. I found the whining unbearable. I was in a car with 4 children for long stretches of time, and I realized honestly that time with little people is sort of a contraceptive. I saw this, knowing yes, it is close to blasphemy.

The Paradox of Children

I marvel at how much time, money, energy, and love parents pour into their children. The moms I know and try to hang out with, truly, I cannot understand how they operate. The giggles and their laughter and endless play did not fill me up. In fact, I enforced quiet time each and every day.

My feelings are evidence, and I must pay attention, rather than pretend that the moments of diligently working children in their work cycles makes up for the insanity of the rest of the day.

I am a mother, and will always mother my children.

But sometimes I feel, I never signed up to be a full time preschool teacher. I teach them because I have to. I do not regret the time with them, but do I believe there will be better outcomes because my children spend all their time with me? No, absolutely not. Do I think that the kids going to a traditional school would yield better outcomes? Nope. I simply do what I have to, and try to enjoy the time, with mixed results.

I realized I am mostly a utilitarian in my approach and values. And perhaps I linger too long in the paradox of being a reluctant homeschooler. But for the most part, the flexibility and joy I experienced with the kids would be impossible had our kids both had traditional school schedules to adhere to.

Fernbrook Farms- where the boys hold a chicken
Central Park Zoo

Other observations:

  • Happy Routines – This has been the best October I can recall of my life. We were able to maintain all our routines — coops, classes, Quran, doc appointments, and grocery shopping — even with guests. It was extraordinary.
  • Value of Sisterhood –Having a friend to push you out of your comfort zone is good. I would never drive into manhattan with my little kids just to do something fun. But somehow, everything was possible when you have a friend with you.
  • I never imagined how cool it is to have another person with me, to give me company and support throughout the day. Why do we live such lonely lives in America? Why is the nuclear family the unit? It seems so bizarre to go back to that kind of intense self-reliance.
  • The Beauty Left Behind –My friend always leaves my house 10x more beautiful than when she came. (She insists on rearranging my awkwardly placed furniture, hanging the artwork she bought for me, and making things more functional and beautiful). I am truly in awe of her love and endless sacrifice. Khala — if you read this, I love you, and I cannot imagine a more perfect way to spend time. This would be us:
Photo by Jonny Lew on Pexels.com

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