Eliot had it all wrong. August is the cruellest month. When else is one expected to plan the next four months of their entire family’s lives with every allergen known to man floating around menacingly, waving little clubs and shouting insults. That the annual onslaught of pollen should coincide with the crucial decision-making season for moms should have folks up-in-arms, conducting studies and staging anti-ragweed rallies. Am I the only one angry about this?  I will concede the fact that it is difficult to muster any strong emotion while blowing your nose. The answer lies in the pharmacy. Sudafed. Diphenhydramine. These are my weapons.

Sudafed makes me unpredictably diaphoretic, but if I alternate it with the diphenhydramine, which causes a Dasht-e Lut dryness, I can achieve a tolerable balance. And reduce my consumption of tissues to less than 300 a day. Sadly, neither drug does anything to clear my head. Tree pollen and dust mites migrate to the interior of my brain and set up camp, their little pop-up trailers and tarps blocking my synaptic gaps. This renders me useless for about three weeks every year. So I sit at the kitchen table, headachey and drugged, with calendars, coop schedules, music institute brochures and such spread out before me, attempting to organize the next quarter. On my best days, I am the last person you want to schedule your life. I’m lucky to know which day of the week it is, never mind the date. I use my cell phone for those mundane details. But as The Mom, it falls to me.

The whole notion of making a 12-16 week commitment chafes. I blame homeschooling for this relatively new phenomena. I used to enjoy fall, I looked forward to sending the kids back to school and getting to know their teachers. Giving my kids over to the control of others was a huge relief. They would be educated while I made money and enjoyed some extra moments of peace and quiet. At the end of the day: dinner, storytime, bed. We were, frankly, exhausted.  My function as parent was part-time, before work and after school. I didn’t have to worry about all that  in between stuff, like what subjects to study and which books to use. I had my job, they had theirs, we didn’t have to pay $700 a month for child care. Good times.

Now that I spend every day, all day with my children, I am more cautious about how we use our time. I don’t know how long this adventure will last. Do we really want to spend two afternoons a week at violin lessons? We could use that time to read, or meet friends at the park. I have a newfound awareness of how fleeting childhood is. So the list remains short, and carefully chosen: music or art class, soccer, homeschool coop, homeschool student newspaper, monthly bowling and roller skating. All activities will have myself or my husband in attendance, as coach or advisor, or just to watch and enjoy.