Silver Lining: when family turns into a business

May 7, 2015

when family turns into a business

What's the most interesting part of my job? It's a tie. I love listening to the hilarious things my students say, discovering if they love or hate school (it's always one of the two), figuring out what type of learner they are, and figuring out whether they think they need a tutor because they're dumb or because they're smart (again, it's always one of the two). But one of my favorite things is getting a little glimpse into the lives of my students' families. Since I tutor in-home, I get to see their houses and their lifestyles and all the members of their family. Newsflash: I'm not the only person who has a pile of clean laundry sitting around waiting to be folded! Hallelujah! It's all very gratifying.

I'm usually in other people's homes during what I call the family rush hour. You know what I'm talking about. The busy two or three hours of the day where everyone comes home from work and school and promptly needs to eat, get their homework done, mow the lawn, pay the bills, go to their activities, be bathed, be put to bed, and a myriad of other things. The more children you have, the busier rush hour is!

Sometimes I think about what someone would say if they walked into my house during rush hour. They would probably see one parent (Sam) taking the baby and listening while the other parent (me) spouts a list of instructions as she runs out the door. "Put this in the oven at 4:15 at 375. Claire's super hungry for dinner, so you'll have to feed her now, and also can you sign this paper and make sure Jason goes to young men's early today? 6:30! Don't forget! Okay thanks love you bye!" All while Sam obediently bounces the baby and looks at me like I'm a crazy person. (I'm a crazy person.)

Honestly, we've been more of a cold cereal dinner family than a seared salmon and vegetables dinner family lately. It's hard, when I'm gone, to make sure everything runs smoothly at home. And, try as I might with crock pots and food I make earlier in the day, it's hard to get a real dinner on the table for Sam and Jason each night. Serving dinner every night used to be something I was proud of, but lately, it just doesn't happen. I'm always gone. One of my teaching friends said she would always tell her family it was a YOYO dinner. You're On Your Own. Don't you love that? We've been having lots of YOYO dinners lately. Thank you to General Mills and dairy cows across America for providing our nourishment.

I read an article lately about the business of families. It's weird to think of my family as a business. In lots of ways, it makes sense though. There's a schedule. There's a checklist of things to accomplish. Deadlines to be met, activities to be done, reading logs to be signed. Sam and I have been pretty good at running our little family business lately. He works early, I work late. The division of labor. It's a little hectic most days, but I guess that's what happens when you have two working parents. But it works. We have a system.

But the thing is - it can't be all about the business! It can't be 100% schedules and handing off babies and frantic texts in the middle of tutoring that say, "The neighbor is here about the yard sale papers??" Marriage shouldn't be just a business! Families aren't just work! They should be fun too!

Which is why, a few days ago, I threw in the towel. I only had one student that day, and I was home by 5:45. At that point, I could have actually made a nice dinner for my family. Or I could have sat down with Jason and checked his grades together. I could have vacuumed the floor, or bathed the baby, or finally made that dentist appointment I never seem to get around to.

Instead, we went to get snow cones.

And it was so great.

I mean, it was nothing out of the ordinary. Just a quick walk to the new snow cone shack around the corner. And honestly, it wasn't even the best snow cone I've ever had. But you know what? It was great. It was a time when Sam and I weren't a business. We were a couple. A family. We all took turns pushing Claire in the stroller. Sam and I held hands. Jason did weird teenage things like walk 10 feet ahead of us and order the dill pickle flavored snow cone (surprisingly, not that gross?).

It was so nice to be a family. Not a business. Not a checklist. Not a schedule. Just a family.

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