Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Seasons of Chaos

As every parent of school-aged children knows, each season has its own level of crazy. For my family, it is often the sport-du-saison that ramps up the chaos, especially when there is overlap between one and the next. Now, for instance, as ski season lingers, while spring soccer and tennis kick off at full speed. Three kids. Two sports. Five teams. Oof.

The logistics, even with two involved parents, plus grandparents living nearby to help with taxi-ing and other things, can range from daunting to seemingly impossible. Our spring calendar is a muddle of games and practices and who-needs-to-be-where-when. Some days, my head spins when I try to figure out how to get everyone – including myself – where they are supposed to be at the allotted times. 

Here’s the thing, though – I’m not sure I’d have it any other way. 


There was one spring, in 2020, when we had no place to be. That, of course, was the year Covid hit and much of our world shut down. Frenzied schedules of sports and school concerts and social outings suddenly shifted to a very long stretch of days spent almost entirely at home. Work was from home. School was from home. And our sporting endeavors became constrained to the backyard. 


That spring, we did lots of projects around the house and yard. We spent weekends normally reserved for games instead completely revamping the huge and unwieldy perennial bed at the front of the house. We walked in the woods and along normally quiet roads that had become even quieter, since most other people weren’t going anywhere either. We played nearly daily family games of soccer and disc golf in the yard, fashioning goals from tree trunks and targets from boulders and branches and old stumps. We hardly got in the car at all. 


In some ways, it was kind of nice to have all that downtime and so many fewer obligations. But we also longed to get back to teams and sports and friends and competition – with someone beyond immediate family members. 


Two years later, we have returned to full-fledged scheduling madness. And I am OK with that. Mostly because I realize it will not last forever. 


The other day, I was lamenting to my mom how wild and crazy the family logistics are becoming, with kids going all different directions, work obligations, and the task of feeding three teenagers on-the-fly. “Yes, it’ll be busy for a few more years,” she said. The conversation rolled on to the next topic, but that remark has stuck with me. A few more years. Then, these multiple-sports-a-season, driving-all-over-creation, mom-there’s-nothing-to-eat days will be another phase of raising kids that has passed. 


I won’t have to create spreadsheets and color-coded calendars to help manage our family schedule. I will have far fewer games to watch and none of my own children to coach. It will, perhaps, be weirdly quiet in my house.   


So, yeah, I’m jumping into the chaos of this season. If anyone needs me, I’m probably driving to practice. Or a game. Or to the grocery store – again – to restock. 

Original content published by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul. This essay appears as Meghan's April 7, 2022 Close to Home column in the Littleton Record.