Let’s see if any of this sounds familiar to anyone out there: Today I will get done with my day job, go immediately to one school to pick up my two littlest kids, then swing up to the high school to pick up the older and go home.
We’ll be home for seven minutes before I have to go again to run the oldest to her job, which includes a side trip to pick up a friend who works at the same place.
Forty minutes later, I will return home to pick up the other kids, who have to be run to the store to pick up supplies for a school project.
Bring these guys home, try to sling together a meal, and, just about then, it’s time to go pick up the oldest one from her job.
By the time I get home and settle in, it’s bedtime for the littlest one. And this is just what a day looks like that I don’t have any personal training to do, or days in which it’s not the daughter’s job but the dance studio carpool.
And I know it sounds like I’m complaining — but I’m not.
I love being able to be this involved in my kids’ lives. And, yes, it would be easier if the older one would drive, but certain events which shall not be mentioned have made that untenable, even if we had another car for her.
The reality is that my level of activity is not that unusual. In fact, I probably have it easy — just ask the soccer mom who has two kids in competitive soccer who practice four days a week and have games all day Saturday, with out-of-town tournaments one weekend a month.
My sister had a daughter doing that with softball — all year long! For goodness’ sake, my nephew just went to Albuquerque to compete in an archery competition (he took second) and he’s only 8!
And I know there’s another scenario, a harder one — the one in which a single parent is trying to do it all. But for now, I’m only addressing the self-inflicted complications.
Keeping kids engaged and busy is a good thing; keeping families running around like chickens with their heads cut off is not.
Like most aspects of American culture circa 2013, we have completely lost our sense of balance. I call it the Tyranny of Youth, but the reality is that we adults have done this to ourselves.
No sport is just for fun, kids don’t play “pick-up” games anymore, and the rare parent who tells their kid “no” is constantly confronted with the myth that they’re not providing enough for their children.
Y’know what? It’s OK to say “no” every once in a while, whether that’s to the kids or to a job, just because it’s nice to have the whole family together. It’s good to re-center in the home. The kids will survive missing one activity; I wonder if they’ll survive missing their family.
Michael Alcorn is a music teacher and fitness instructor who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. He graduated from Alameda High School and the University of Colorado-Boulder.