Smartmom and family are still on California time. But they better switch their circadian rhythms to Eastern Standard Time. Pronto.
On Sunday night, Smartmom was in a panic. In the weeks ahead, there was just too much to do and she wasn’t sure she had the stamina for it all.
• Teen Spirit has a boatload of schoolwork to complete and a couple of college applications to get out the door.
• Hepcat has to finish a project he’s been working on for too long. And while he’s at it, he needs to see about getting paid.
• Smartmom still needs a job. Actually, she needs one now more than ever (yeah, good luck with that — unless Obama creates a new WPA for writers!).
• OSFO has to get back to the rigorous and overscheduled life of a Park Slope middle-schooler.
Couldn’t they just go back to the farm and hang out with goats, Flora and Miss America? That was so much more relaxing than this.
Smartmom was stressing about getting her kids up in the morning in time to get them to school. They hadn’t gone to bed before midnight since before Christmas. Smartmom and the OSFO enjoy watching “Desperate Housewives” and “Brothers and Sisters” on Sunday nights. They’re addicted to both, and you’ve got to be kidding if you think they were going to miss a new episode.
So much for early to bed, early to rise.
But on Sundays, OSFO had to miss “Desperate Housewives” because she still had an itty bit of homework left to finish.
“Why didn’t you do it out in California?” Smartmom bellowed.
“I forgot,” OSFO lied.
Smartmom was fit to be tied. The television stayed off until OSFO finished her reading logs. Damn those reading logs.
“Couldn’t I just watch a little,” OSFO begged.
“Read my lips!” Smartmom snarled.
Besides, there’s always Hulu for catching up on the latest escapades of Eva Longoria Parker, Felicity Huffman and Terri Hatcher.
Thank Buddha, OSFO was done in time to watch how baby Elizabeth’s illness and her uncle’s sacrifice caused an emotional confrontation between Kevin and Tommy that threatened their relationship on “Brothers and Sisters.”
And Smartmom thought her life was complicated.
At 11 pm, OSFO was in bed and Teen Spirit was already asleep after a long weekend of revelry with friends after “solitary confinement” in California. He was out like a light.
Mission accomplished. The children were sleeping. Smartmom practically patted herself on the back. Not so fast.
At 11:05, OSFO crawled into the parental bed and had an emotional meltdown. It was like the beginning of the school year all over again: tears, fears and apprehensions about going back to middle school.
“I miss PS 321,” she told Smartmom tearfully.
Smartmom felt like it was “Groundhog Day.” Hadn’t they gotten over this back in September? Finally Smartmom managed to calm OSFO down: she rubbed her back until she fell asleep.
“Set the alarm for 5:30,” OSFO told her drowsily before she dozed off. She wanted to shower, do a tiny bit more homework and get herself ready for her first day back after vacation.
Smartmom slept fitfully. Visions of all the bills she had to pay, the phone calls she had to make in search of a job, and all the family business she had to attend to danced like sour lollipops and broken candy canes inside her head.
At 4:45 am, she gave up trying to sleep and waited for the alarm to ring at 5:30.
“Turn the shower on,” OSFO ordered from her bedroom as soon as it rang.
It was a bit harder to get Teen Spirit up at 6 am. But he did, eventually, shower, dress and make it out the door, while listening to “Talking Heads 77” at top volume.
Uh oh. OSFO needed lunch and there was nothing in the fridge. That meant a quick trip to the newsstand on Seventh Avenue where the owner knows to make a bagel with cream cheese for OSFO and a coffee with one sugar for Smartmom. (It would be too easy to keep a steady supply of bagels at home.)
When she got back home, Smartmom could see that OSFO was still nervous about her first day back. Even as she brushed her turquoise hair, OSFO looked fairly blue. Smartmom tried to cheer her up, but what could she say. Smartmom was feeling pretty glum herself on this, the first day of real life in 2009.
“Try to have a good day,” Smartmom said as she waved at OSFO as she left the apartment. But she was really talking to herself. Because that was what she was going to try to do. All day.