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Missing From The Family Calendar

Missing From The Family Calendar

By Mir Kamin

Like every American parent of overscheduled children, I have a fantasy about an organized life. This fantasy centers around an enormous calendar that hangs in the middle of our kitchen. Believe me when I tell you I don’t have a single artsy bone in my body and am incapable of drawing a straight line, and yet because I am somewhat delusional, this calendar is color-coded and a thing of beauty. Truly, it is.

Wondering who has doctors’ appointments this month, and when? Check the calendar.

Curious about assignment due dates, after-school activities, or the band’s competition schedule? Check the calendar.

Trying to remember miscellaneous meetings or when my husband is out of town? It’s on the calendar.

My system for keeping track of various essential time commitments on this calendar is the crowning achievement of my years as a parent. (Why, yes, that is kind of a low bar. It’s been a rough decade and a half, folks.) I’m not very visually-oriented by nature, so to have a colorful hub like this that I actually maintain is nothing short of a miracle. And yes, I know that plenty of parents—probably the same ones who post rainbow candy party favors in wee little mason jars on Pinterest—have done a similar family calendar for years. Me, I just started this system a couple of months ago, at the beginning of this school year. Before now we didn’t have as much stuff all the time, plus the kids just got in the car when I told them to (or, let’s be honest, whined that they couldn’t find their shoes when I told them to get in the car), so I didn’t see a need. But now, man, we have the Master Calendar, and by gum our lives are organized.

But—you knew there was a “but,” right?—no matter how meticulous I am, no matter how often I update it, there’s still a lot of life-altering events missing. And I fear that if I write them down, Child Protective Services might show up on my doorstep. It doesn’t stop me from wishing I could put everything on the schedule, though. To wit:

PMS Week

Oh, like you wouldn’t write this on the calendar, complete with a tiny skull and crossbones, if you thought your female teenager(s) wouldn’t claw your face off in protest. A little bit of warning is nice, you know. Some reassurance that no, she hasn’t lost her mind, and this is temporary, would be a welcome reminder when the whole family is cowering from gale-force mood swings. And based upon my daughter’s periodic wry comments about her brother “becoming a woman,” I feel like male PMS may indeed be a thing, too. Teenagers + hormones = Crazytown. I’m just saying.

Deadline Meltdown (“I didn’t know” Edition)

At least once a month each of my teens—in all of their executive dysfunctional glory—will completely blow a school deadline due to their disorganization. They’re not lying when they insist they have no idea how it happened, either. My attempts to get the kids on board with making lists and crossing things off has thus far been a bust of comic proportions: My son somehow crosses off items he didn’t actually do (it’s still unclear what’s going on, there), and my daughter simply misplaces the list altogether. Marvelous.

Deadline Meltdown (“Don Music” Edition)

Remember Don Music from Sesame Street? He would start playing a song on the piano (like “Mary Had a Little Lamb”) and he’d screw up a single word (like, he’d say “Mary had a little bicycle”), then he’d fling himself down on the keys in defeat, crying, “No, no, no, I’ll never get it right!” My kids have had these sorts of Don Music meltdowns their entire lives, but watching an adult-sized kid convinced that they’ll “never get it right” or “can’t possibly finish in time” requires a level of fortitude I’m still working to achieve. My job during these is to stay calm and point out that if they’d just stop freaking out and work on the assignment they’d probably finish, but I have to do it in a way that doesn’t make them angrier. This, too, happens at least once a month. I sure would like some advanced warning.

Hey, I Want That Greener Grass!

At least once a month, my son will become convinced that his life would be infinitely better if we stopped homeschooling and he could “go to regular school with everyone else.” Less frequently, but still every couple of months, my daughter will become convinced that her life would be infinitely better if I would just let her ditch the high school and be homeschooled. Each of these events spins into a drama that can last for several hours. If I had some warning of when they will occur, I could start drinking accordingly.

“Oh, Mom, I need…”

… money, a ride, cookies for a bake sale, this permission slip signed two weeks ago but it’s been crammed in the bottom of my bag, a specific article of clothing they don’t yet own for an event taking place within the next 24 hours, a specific article of clothing they do own but which is at the bottom of the hamper for an event taking place within the next 6 hours, supplies for this project I forgot about, new shoes because I just outgrew these ones, more shampoo/soap/deodorant/toothpaste because I’ve been out for a week and just now thought to tell you.

(I know, we can’t really schedule any of those. But wouldn’t it be great if we could…?)

Those Rare Moments of Perfection

Sometimes I think the harder stuff would be easier to endure if I knew for sure that we were coming up on one of those we-must-be-doing-something-right realizations that makes the rest of it bearable. The meltdowns and midnight baking wouldn’t be so aggravating if I could check the calendar and see that oh, hey, tomorrow my kid is not only going to be happy to see me at a school event, she’s going to introduce me to a new friend. Or later this week Shampoogate will be forgotten when my kid handles a difficult situation with a level of grace and maturity I didn’t know he’d reached. If I could schedule that stuff, I’d buy glitter pens. And then that calendar would well and truly keep me sane.

Hey, I can dream.

Published October 1, 2013. Last updated October 1, 2013.
About the Author

Mir Kamin

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now ...

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she’s become one of those people who talks to her dogs in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she’s continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she’s bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.

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  • […] can read all about it over at Alpha Mom, because I suspect I’m not the only one who finds that color-coded schedule somewhat […]

  • Crickett

    October 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I point you in the direction of The Flylady!

    There’s even a Calendar and Student stickers package.

    • Kat

      October 1, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      I read this post and thought FLYLADY!!! I didn’t get a calendar for 2013 and deeply regretted it, but should have one arriving in the mail shortly. It’s been a crazy few months without it…

  • Karen R

    October 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    PMS week — love it. For the past 14 years my electronic calendar has sported a small graphic of a lit bomb for that blessed event. Though it has been needed a lot less since we discovered ABFE Woman Essence.

  • Susan

    October 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I was going to suggest a red dot on the PMS…but I like the “lit bomb” from Karen R idea better! 

  • Malvina

    October 1, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Love it! I used to watch disorganized families and judge. I swore it would never be me and everything in my house would have a place and everything would be organized…..and then I had kids. The end.

    I’ve learned to use calendars on the go…I started to use my phone calendar which has helped, but can be confusing too. Now i just use the free diaper calendar I get each year 🙂

    cant wait for teenage years, I’ve got two girls…..not sure if it’ll be too much to track both of their mood swings in calendar mode lol


  • My Kids Mom

    October 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Our google calendar has no less than.. counting… eight colors. (for 4 family members, yes.) Everyone can see it, their dad and I can edit parts of it but not each other’s, and I can write whatever I damn well please on my color and then hide it if I want. I only share the family and the individual kids calendars with the kids. Love, love love it and have it on my phone too.

    • My Kids Mom

      October 1, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      –and I’m not against writing things on the calendar that have already happened. Just to feel good and organized. You can add in THIS WAS A GOOD DAY now and then. Might be fun to look back at and see….

  • Sarah B.

    October 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    My phone is never, ever allowed to crash and die for exactly this reason.  We have no communal calendar, because my own executively-dysfunctional child would never, ever check it (“Wut’s a ca…cal…calendar?  Why would you plan things?”), and the girl with extreme anxiety would agonize over it beyond all bounds of reason (“OMG MOM IT SAID FOUR O’CLOCK AND IT’S FOUR-THIRTY AND AT FIVE I HAVE TO DO THIS OR I’M GOING TO DIE AND THE WORLD WILL END AND IT’S ALLLLL YOUUURRR FAULLLT”).  I’m not looking forward to the teen years with any of them.  Did I mention I was informed today that we’ve been out of milk (which I don’t drink) for two days?  *headwall*

  • Abby

    October 2, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Jealous of your rainbow colored calendar. In my dreams it would solve all of our organizational problems. As soon as I get organized-I’ll have one!

  • Chris

    October 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    My calendar is a family godsend.  Not that we don’t ever have epic fails (like au pair not picking up child because she went to school on wrong time and leaving her to find her own way home when I was in Paris and my husband was at a funeral) but it provides a place to start.

    I put my kids things on my work calendar in another color and then leave print outs at home.  It helps because my girls are old enough that they will use it to double check.

    No calendar can work against the school work fails.  I keep repeating that this is a lesson they must learn…

  • Arnebya

    October 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I am dying over the Don Music reference because YES!

    I just bought myself a handy carryaroundable (oh wait, portable?) calendar just for me but we use the kitchen calendar for everyone else. I have to duplicate some things even in my phone because sadly, sometimes, the forgetful culprit is me.