Phyllis Britt

Phyllis Britt

I was always one of those who works better under pressure. As a result, I remember distinctly in high school frantically typing a term paper at 1:30 in the morning. And in college I was the queen of the all-night study session in preparation for an exam.

When kids came along, I still handled clothes washing and housecleaning after they went to bed. (Even now, when my husband jokes about my getting up to fix breakfast for him around 4:30 a.m. on the days he goes to work, my pat answer is, “If I’m up at 4:30 a.m., it’s because I’m still up, not because I’m getting up.”

But with kids also came a newfound pressure not to let them wait until the last minute and the realization that life can easily get crazy with all the activities in which so many children are involved. In our house alone there were soccer, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, dance, choir, horseback and, at times, cheerleading, violin and basketball.

So I should have been prepared for last week.

My Greenville daughter, Liz, and her husband, Vince, took a trip for their 10th anniversary to Paris. And I went to Greenville to take care of Pearce, a first grader, and Clarke, in 4-K.

The girls are young enough that I figured it would be no problem. They have only one real activity outside of school – gymnastics – and that’s only one day a week.

So I headed up to Greenville on Monday. Liz and Vince flew out Tuesday morning, and my week as surrogate mom began.

I should have realized I was in trouble when I was immediately thrown off my perceived schedule Tuesday night. Pearce’s school was having a variety show, and she really wanted to go. I picked everyone up from school, and we ate dinner at home. (I had brought chicken pot pie, and there were leftovers to pick from.) We arrived at the talent show around 6:15 for a 6:30 start. I hadn’t counted on the enthusiasm of the parents at Pearce’s school. The multi-purpose room was packed. The girls opted to sit on the floor up front, and thanks to the kindness of strangers I got a seat at the last minute only two rows away. The variety show reminded me of all those years I covered Hammond Hill’s talent shows – no one quite came up to the standards of the little girl at HHE one year who hulahooped across the stage, spinning the circular device around her neck, arms, wrists, ankles, knees, in addition to her waist. But at Pearce’s school there were some great little musicians, singers, gymnasts, comedians, dancers and a very impressive young man who could twirl a baton with the best of them.

The problem was homework. We got home from the show around 8:15 p.m., but Pearce still had a math sheet, a spelling sheet and 20 minutes of reading to do. Even foregoing a bath, it was 9:30 p.m. before everyone was in bed.

Now, realize that Pearce is following in her YaYa’s footsteps. She is not an early riser on the best of days, and dragging her out of bed at the crack of dawn is never fun.

Wednesday we went out to dinner – nothing fancy, but it was still close to 9:30 p.m. before I got the girls in bed for the night.

But Thursday about did me in. The girls had a dentist appointment, followed by gymnastics. Clarke is still not sure about the dentist; however, the girls’ pediatric dentist allowed me to hold her in my lap and let her recline her head into the dental technician’s lap instead of making her sit in the big, scary dental chair. Pearce, on the other had, even handled x-rays well – I remember hating those giant things they shove in your mouth when doing x-rays.

By the time we got home and ate dinner, finished homework, etc., it was 10 p.m. when they were finally in bed. Children that young certainly need more sleep than a 10-o’clock bedtime allows.

Friday Clarke’s school held a Thanksgiving feast to which parents/grandparents were invited. It was very cute, with the 4-K students singing a number of Thanksgiving songs. Clarke amazed me when she ate virtually all that was laid before her – turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cantaloupe.

Liz has made some great friends in Greenville, and one was kind enough to invite the girls over for a play date on Saturday. It rained all day, and I took them over expecting to stay. When I got there my girls made a total of six little girls between the ages of 6 and 2. But the mom sent me packing. She encouraged me to run some errands, shop for fun or go back to sleep. It was glorious. I was reminded of spending two weeks with Tom out of town when my kids were Clarke and Pearce’s ages. The entire time not a single friend even offered just to meet me at McDonald’s, much less to take my kids for a couple of hours. (As an aside, right after my experience so long ago, I took the kids to Virginia for a week, and Tom, left alone in the house, was invited out to dinner every night while I was gone. It was a bit frustrating, as you can tell by the fact that it’s been 30 years since the incident, and I’m still a bit miffed.)

The only day of near-relaxation was Sunday. I did forego church and, amazingly, all three of us slept in until 9:20 a.m. We went out to breakfast, watched a Christmas movie or two, visited a nearby park, ate dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant and, even with a bath managed to get them into bed before 8:30.

After a week of dropping back into mommy mode, I was finally settling into the routine.

Then again, I was exhausted. I was reminded once again that there’s a reason you have children when you’re young. I loved every minute of it, but now I may go home and sleep for a couple of days straight.

Oh, but I forgot – Thursday is Thanksgiving, and though Cat is hosting, I still have a long list of tasks before me, including making broccoli casserole, cranberry salad, pumpkin pies, pecan pies, etc. So maybe I can sleep Friday.

Oh, but wait – I’m supposed to go on a shopping trip to Hilton Head Friday, so maybe I can sleep Sunday.

Then again, we usually get a Christmas tree during the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Oh well, I am thankful this Thanksgiving that I have such a full life with my family. And, as they say, I can sleep when I’m dead.