A solo parenting weekend

For Christmas, my sister-in-law and I gave my husband and his brother a long weekend ski trip. So they took off for Colorado Thursday to Sunday, which wound up being Monday morning when traffic from Vail to Denver was so bad that my husband needed to switch himself from an afternoon flight to the red-eye. I was on solo parenting duty for the weekend.

It was certainly easier than it would have been when the kids were, say, 7, 5, 3, and a baby. Everybody got to do one thing they enjoyed. I caught up on my sleep by going to bed early (going to bed early is how grown-ups sleep in).

I actually had one less kid for a big chunk of the weekend. My 11-year-old went to a middle school lock-in at church from 5 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Saturday. He had some trepidations about this, but pronounced it “insanely fun” when I picked him up. So that was good.

I also had a babysitter for several hours on Saturday. Part of this was logistics. The 9-year-old needed to prepare his pinewood derby car for the upcoming competition, and there was a workshop organized — with the necessary saws and sanders — this weekend. I also wanted to go to the Philadelphia Flower Show during the member preview hours. So we split the morning and I took the two little kids downtown with me to the convention center.

They were not originally thrilled to come, but we agreed to start in the butterfly exhibit, and they loved that. They spent forty-five minutes staring at the little critters and getting them to climb on our Q-tips. They might have stayed there all day, but I really wanted to see the other flower exhibits. Alas, the kids lasted about 15 minutes in the main conference hall. In an ideal world I would go back on my own this week, but coming into the book launch zone (and another big project I promise to tell more about very soon!) I don’t think it’s going to be a priority.

Since I had the sitter coverage, I then spent some time Saturday afternoon working, picking up the 11-year-old, and going for a run outdoors. In the evening I supervised a butterfly art project (we “laminated” them in Contact paper) and I watched half of the 76ers/Golden State Warriors game before crashing.

Sunday morning I listened to the 11-year-old’s pleas that he had just devoted 22 hours to organized religion and let him stay home while I brought the other three kids to church. My chamber choir sang Morten Lauridsen’s O Nata Lux, which was quite beautiful (Lauridsen is known for lush harmonies and writing melodies that feel lovely to sing — curiously enough, not all choral composers seem to understand the nature of the voice as an instrument. But Lauridsen is popular with singers because he does.) The chamber choir has been an unexpected bonus of joining my (larger) church choir. A small ensemble with seven professional singers as members is going to sound pretty good!

After, the weekend definitely started to feel long. I brought all four kids to a baseball workshop for the 9-year-old. There was much fighting (why can’t children just agree to get in on different sides of the car and take the seats that are closest to the door in which they’ve entered??) I was interrupted while running on the treadmill for things that definitely did not rise to the level of emergency I had specified (“It’s my turn on the computer!” “Mom, he just came and took the computer away from me!” “Can I throw this ball at you?”) I was going to take everyone out to dinner but by 4:30 p.m. it was snowing so hard that I elected to make mac and cheese at home instead. Since this is what three out of four children would have ordered at the restaurant anyway, this was probably a wise choice on multiple levels.

We got news of yet another 2-hour snow delay in the evening. At least school wasn’t canceled today.

In the in-between spaces of the weekend, I read Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities. This gave me some food for thought as I walked with my kids from the parking garage to the convention center for the flower show (my route wasn’t exactly on Philly’s finest streets…past a 7-11 and the bus depot). I’ve been thinking about the need for mixed residential and commercial areas as my own little suburban village just lost its grocery store. It’s sad to no longer be able to walk to get a carton of milk. I’m hoping something equally useful lands in the spot. Maybe Amazon’s new grocery chain?

In other news: I did not spend any time decluttering this weekend (I did manage to do my laundry and vacuum my office — and I feel I should get major props for that). But I know decluttering is much on people’s minds these days. Friend-of-the-blog Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Outer Order, Inner Calm, will be out tomorrow, so please check that out and let me know if you’ve been inspired to tackle any new projects!

5 thoughts on “A solo parenting weekend

  1. Hi Laura–
    Just wanted to say that I’m with you in Lauridsen–our community choir has performed the entire Lux Aeterna twice this season in two different venues plus some selections from it in yet a third, and I’m sorry that it’s all over. We’re headed for Rutter’s Requiem this coming weekend, though, so that’s some comfort!

  2. I love choral music-a church near my house hosts a Byzantine choir group every month or so, and it is such a beautiful way to spend a weekend night.

    Would love if you could ever do a post on your favorite pieces (to hear or sing!)-I’m always on the lookout for ideas

  3. I’m curious about your further thoughts on Jane Jacobs’ book, Laura (and if you want to continue reading on the topic, Dawid Owen’s “Green metropolis” is very thought-provoking). But – more broadly — I am curious whether you are planning to take your work and writing on time use and productivity into the area where it intersects with modern thinking about environment, climate change, circular economy…? I realize that the U.S. is far more polarized on these issues than, say, Europe, or New Zealand where I live (so that taking a stance on these issues may put you in particular left/right political space) but at the same time I don’t think that a writer in 2020 (nearly there!) can ignore what’s happening around us.

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