Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In acceptance of micro-routines

When I first went part-time at work and took over primary domestic responsibilities, I was less than excited one aspect of the transition: losing my routine. I chalk my embrace of daily routines up to the fact that I moved around a lot as a kid. There's comfort in doing things the same way at the same time each day. When I worked full time, I commuted by bus most every day, and meeting that schedule meshed with a pretty consistent routine.

The part-time schedule has torpedoed routine to the extent I might have guessed. Having to get the kids to and from their various locations can shoot holes in a routine. Also, the schedule I've kept - working M, T and Th and being at home on W and F - builds disruption right into the week. Although I accurately predicted the disappearance of routine, I would not have guessed that I'd be able to roll with it as I have. Early on, I grieved the loss of predictability, but I moved through the initial stages and got to acceptance.

In place of the steady routine, life now consists of short periods of different formations of family life and time. School years and sports seasons help delineate these. As regular readers know, I don't always fare well with any given period. I have come, though, to accept that whatever the schedule and pattern is right now, it will change soon. That makes me appreciate each little segment as it comes and goes. When I was working out before 6:00 every morning, Teddy would get up and hang out nearby until I was done, never asking for his breakfast. Now, we're out of that pattern. When Charlie had trumpet lessons followed by dance class after school for a while, I found that Teddy and I could shop for groceries in the neighborhood while Charlie was occupied. As soon as I had that down, we were out of that pattern and returned to morning grocery shopping.

I'm probably most nostalgic about a micro-routine that preceded all of this part-time stuff. Paige had a Tuesday evening class in law school. Charlie was at the university's childcare center on Tuesdays. Paige would pick him up there and call in a pizza order at the O (a Pitt classic). She liked the pizza but didn't relish taking our toddler into the Dirty O (as the students call it) to pick it up or to eat there. Persistently and inexplicably slippery floors presented just one of the hazards there. So I'd bus up from downtown and pick up the pizza and then join P & C in the student lounge in the basement of the law school for family dinner. For a while there, O pizza was the only kind Charlie would eat. Then Paige would go to her class, and C and I would bus the rest of the way home. Now, that whole setup exists only in memory.

The fleeting nature of these micro-routines motivates me to appreciate what's good in each one. Rather than rail against losing the comfort of predictability, I try to focus on how quickly the boys outgrow the little phases they laser through one after the other. Better to soak up today for what it is than to wish it could be something else. Soon enough, I'll be wishing nostalgically for today.

1 comment:

Anne H. said...

Yes, life is like that. "You don't know what you got till it's gone."