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Living in 15-minute Increments

By Eileen Wacker

I am the mother of four kids, aged eight to fourteen year-old, and trying to launch a business.  I live life in 15-minute increments.

Our house wakes up at 6:00 am during the week. Getting everyone to eat something is a challenge so I let them eat whatever they want – leftover pasta, soup, macaroni and cheese, cereal, bagels, whatever. Then I either drive them to school, leaving at 6:45 or go to my office and start to work. I usually have appointments racked and stacked as I work with a team located across Korea, India, Vancouver, San Francisco, Mexico City and Honolulu.

Today, I’m also trying to keep fish from dying. My son went to a birthday party and the party favor was a beta fish. I groaned when I saw it and secretly vowed to get even with the mom. Then my son named the fish Medallion because it was like gold to him. So, yesterday I went to the pet store to get some accommodations for Medallion and we left with six mollies and an aquarium.  Anyway, the six mollies are named – Blaze, Spike, Buster (girl), Anna, Crusoe, and Razor.

This morning, I came upon our dog, Buster Brown, with the fish food container in his mouth. He had eaten nearly the whole can and I had to wrestle the container from him. Apparently, he had climbed up on the chair and snatched the food.  He was utterly remorseless standing there with fish flakes sticking all around his mouth. And he apparently scared a fish to death. Poor Spike met an untimely death.

My assistant arrives and we crank through as much as humanly possible.  Then school pick-ups start at 2:45.  Someone helps with the driving but we are both in our respective cars from 2:30 until 6:00 every day. Each child has school, a sport and an instrument. But we also have doctor and dental appointments, birthdays, school orientations, parent conferences, school fairs, major sports events, dances, play dates in all different venues.

I arrive home at 6:00, picking up my thirteen year-old son from tennis along the way. My 8 year-old daughter runs to the door to remind me the bake sale is tomorrow and we promised to send in cheesecake brownies, cut into pieces, bagged and labeled. Luckily, I have brownie mix and cheesecake filling. We preheat the oven and start to make them. I am making dinner at the same time, boiling water for pasta.  So it appears to be working out. Then I discover we have no canola oil. I rush to the store to get the oil. I am almost home and my oldest texts me – “just ran out of milk.” I text her back “drain the pasta and I’ll get milk.”

As I walk in the door, one of my kids calls me to report an “infestation“ in the kitchen. Sure enough there are a thousand little ants just by the door. We run and douse them with enough “raid” to fill a bathtub.

I have three kids to help with homework; one is independent or just refuses to let me see his work. I listen to how everyone’s day went, and then showers, piano practice and a little free time. If I don’t tell them to go to bed, they forget (but if I attempt to send them to bed early, it is treated as a crime committed against children everywhere).

Just when I feel like my “sportsmomship” might give out; my kids give me a hug and tell me I’m the best mom ever. I get re-energized and work a little longer as India and Korea are up and working. I have a glass of wine with my husband and ask him about his day. I usually don’t remember his response as I am so exhausted. At ten, I go to sleep.

Every Sunday, we look at the calendar and figure out what items we have in addition to the regular routine. I slot them all into the schedule in 15-minute increments. My youngest son likes to play flag football and says he is great at “juking.” This is modern-day parent “juking.” And tomorrow I start booking the summer camps, trips and schedule.