Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Madness! Madness, I tell you!

An admired colleague of Poker Chick (and fellow parent) has always said that for her, September is always the most difficult and emotional month of the year. While seasonal depression (or "SAD" as it's appropriately called) is common, it's usually in the dark months of winter. You don't often hear people kvetching about being miserable in September. It doesn't make much sense.

This September, however, Poker Chick embarks on the journey that is parenting a school-age child. She's one of those last-minute people (big surprise, right?) so naturally she didn't bother looking at any of her calendars until yesterday. This is when the major freakout began. Suddenly she had an epiphany. Of course parents are on edge in September!!! The start of school for a working parent is insane! You'd be mad not to be mad.
This is not Poker Chick. This woman's boobs are waay bigger.

What's the big deal, you ask? The big deal is that nursery school in NYC is too-often treated like a Harvard prep class. First, there's the 10,000 pages of lists with all the purchases and visits required just to prepare for school. (Backpacks and doctors and crayons, oh my!) Next, the "fall semester" schedule. The problem with the schedule is that most of them are built around the 1950s housewife. You know, the one baking her own challah, giving school tours, actually brushing her kid's hair before school. Flip to 2007 and you have a working parent who needs to maintain some involvement at the school without losing her job. Now, in fairness the school Poker Chick chose for the mini is the lowest key in the neighborhood. So she thought she'd be able to manage.

Surely, everyone understands when you need time off work for the first day of school and parent-teacher conferences. But now there's a mandatory "phasing-in process". 10 of 20 working days scattered throughout a month. Ahem. Excuse me? You try it, go ahead: "Um, boss, I'll need to come in at noon about every other day during our busiest month. That won't be a problem, will it?". HA! Good luck with that one! The school is understanding of this and accepts other "caregivers". But unfortunately society has not quite kept up with the times. You could do it, but then you're that mom; the only one who's not doing it; the mom who's labeled as an unfeeling slacker and castigated accordingly.

Think Poker Chick's wrong? Raise your hand if you know any dads who receive the same level of disdain for not being as involved in school as they like, even though many of them work less hours than Poker Chick. Right. That's what we thought.

Now, to address those bright-eyed optimists out there. You think you can do this? Great! You've somehow got the boss (and the Client's) buy-in on all this time off. Now add the expectation that you'll be joining at least one school "committee". How could you not? Excellent! So let's see, 8 out of 10 involve 9-5 meetings/activities. No problemo. If she gets fired, the money genie will appear and grant Poker Chick the tuition money for this Utopian education. Ha ha. Let's take a moment to laugh at that visual.

OK, so no daytime committees. Still, there are things Poker Chick can do. In her spare time after cleaning up and eating and paying bills and finishing up work after the mini goes to sleep. After all, Poker Chick is a Superhero. She doesn't need sleep herself.

But let's look on the bright side. It's September. Not tax time, not Thanksgiving. At least it's just this one thing going on. But wait - there's THOSE PESKY HOLIDAYS that roll around every September. More days off! And the expectation that Poker Chick will reprise a rare domestic role as hostess. Sadly, she will likely go along with it because she's a firm believer that everyone should have a place to go on the high holidays. D@mn values.

Think we're done? Nope. While she won't be sending cards (one thing she's never done), she does have an obligation to call the ones she loves to wish them a happy new year. This includes someone who recently sent her a curiously nasty email telling her she should be ashamed of herself* (and you wonder where she gets her guilt).

So, let's review. Work/school conflicts. Maternal judgement and subsequent guilt. The stereotype that posession of a uterus brings with it domestic obligations.**

Anyone still wondering why someone might be a bit emotional in September?

*If you know what PC may have done to elicit this, please do tell! All polled are still clueless. **If anyone would like to loan Poker Chick a p@nis (aka the "get out of jail free card") for the month of September, she'd be much obliged.


ALM said...

Oh man, I so relate. THis year I actually took the first week of school off (finally figured that out - by the time older son is going into 2nd grade...) but I still have more school supplies to buy... backpacks... don't know anything about their bus... And I hear you about the days off - I work at a Jewish agency, so that makes things a wee bit easier. But not much.
It's tough.

Emily said...

There is only ONE working mom in the big guy's class (OK, there is an artist, but she's flexible, as am I). I mean one woman with an office to go to. And the parents split the show-up-at-school obligations. Can't PokerMan show up a bit?

Anonymous said...

There's the holidays everyone has, then there's all the Jewish holidays that no one outside the tribe understands.