Friday, September 21, 2007

My reply on being asked (for the 2nd time) to chair or co-chair the costume committee for my daughter's play

Hi (fellow parent),

I'm afraid I would drop the ball if I volunteered to chair or co-chair
a committee at this time - my father-in-law had 2 liver transplants a
couple of weeks ago, which means when my husband is not traveling for
his job, he's flying to Florida to be with his father and trade off
caring for his mother (who is having at-home PT for a recent fall)
with his sister who also has a job & family here in the valley. So we
are already functionally minus one adult in our house - besides
M, we have a 9 month old boy and I don't have any regular
childcare, nanny, etc. We don't have a horizon for when his parents
will not need caregivers, who they would prefer (or perhaps expect) to
be their children (the designated offspring who was to live at home &
care for the parents in their dotage thoughtlessly died a few years

I'll probably have to ask my mom to come down to watch the kids when
we do our costume weekends. She helps my sister home-school my
special-needs niece, who regularly exhausts the 2 adults in their
house, which is also without outside help because they live in a rural
area and there seem to be neither schools nor caregivers capable of
handling my niece. So there's not a lot of give in that situation
either - a two day trip here to help me means my mom goes back to a
household just short of full-on crisis mode, and so my brother-in-law
takes *more* vacation time to come home from his job (also in the Bay
Area; he commutes weekly) and get things back on track before leaving
for another week. I don't often ask for help because of the upheaval
to everyone else....

My German friend and doula can only occasionally give me a few hours
in a week since her regular clients have first call on her services -
she watched the kids when I had the temporary crowns put on my teeth
in June, but I haven't been able to schedule her since she got back
from summer in Germany with her boys, and so have had the temporary
crowns for oh, 4 months now and am having to cancel yet another
appointment next week for the permanent crowns to be installed because
she can't come to watch the baby while M is in school.

I try to volunteer at the school as much as I am able, considering
that I would like to be able to do well what I promise to do. I spend
about 3 hours every Wednesday at hot lunch and then doing copying for
Ms. X. I can help with things I can do while M is in school
and S is in the back-carrier, but writing emails, talking on the
phone etc are not something I can do with any predictable regularity.
Judging by the thickness of my to-do folder, I would be a poor
candidate for any committee chair positions at this time. Also see:
length of time between your email & my response.

As things always do, someday so shall these constraints & frustrations
pass: S will be in pre-school, I will find that rarer-than-rubies
babysitter for a once-a-week six hour break, my husband's parents
won't need in home help (or will move to California...), etc. But now
is not yet as they say in Bali, and I am not shirking responsibility
because it'd interfere with my bon-bon consumption, I really truly
cannot add to what is already on my (and my family's) plate.

I am happy to be part of the costume committee, and will be ready,
willing and able when we do our work - with enough kicking and
screaming I can usually make scheduled events happen - but I am sorry
to decline volunteering for costume committee chair or co-chair


(PS written under the influence of reading yet another airline
confirmation email for a trip to Florida NOT on days previously
discussed, while holding cranky (probably because of 3 shots
yesterday), yelling (because he is 9 mo old), hair-pulling (see
previous) baby.)