Every May it’s the same. Can we arrive at the majority of commitments on time? Can we avoid double-booking? Can we end the month with celebratory — not surly — spirits?
How much can families pile on to everyday routines? The list can include, but is not limited to: recitals, concerts, parties, open houses, book fairs, teacher appreciation week, graduations, teas, camping trips, dances, field day, field trips, plays, receptions and tournaments.
I’ve learned to march into May with a plan that includes, but is not limited to: shortcuts for home-cooked meals, the constitution to launder daily, the willingness to overlook some usual chores, gift wrap at the ready, a generous sense of humor, a healthy dose of forgiveness (for self and others) and determination to say no when it all becomes too much.
My most essential strategy: Rely on teamwork.
Cooper, Katie and I have been a family of three for a long while now. We’ve learned one another’s strengths. We know our challenges. Most of the time we do a fine job remembering that we’re on the same team, working toward the same goals.
That attitude is even more important when the month of May is interrupted by hiccups, those presumptuous moments that leave no room for RSVPs.
Perhaps it’s a small hiccup, like when your son realizes a front belt loop on his black slacks has popped loose and you’ve got two minutes before you must pull out of the garage and drive toward the auditorium for the spring band concert.
In that case, the other child locates a needle and black thread, you grab scissors, and your son stands motionless while you mend on the spot.
Or maybe your beloved family dog will not step a paw into the backyard if it’s raining, which is normally no big deal except now we’re in the rainiest season anyone can recall, and the only way to allow your furry friend to take care of business is to take her on walks around the neighborhood.
We’ve had many, many walks this month. The three of us take turns, depending on who is actually home and can most afford a soaking.
Some interruptions are less expected and require extreme creativity. Like the day we found a kitten in our yard.
Actually, our beloved dog found the kitten. Margie the Scottie sniffed out the baby and welcomed it to our home by producing the loudest, fiercest bark I’ve ever heard.
After we contained Margie, the three of us conspired on how to take care of the world’s cutest gray and white cat, now taking residence in our backyard.
Actually, two of us conspired. Katie stood on the patio and sobbed, her soft heart for all living creatures wounded by the possibility that Margie had harmed the kitten.
Cooper and I gingerly approached the abandoned cat, hoping to hold her, I suppose, when she leaped across the yard, producing the loudest, fiercest hiss I’ve ever heard.
We, in turn, all shrieked and leaped, followed quickly by fits of laughter. Who’s scared of a wispy kitten?
We regrouped. Katie joined the cause. (The kitten moved too fast to be injured.) We tiptoed near. She hissed, leaped and darted for the back fence.
After two hours of watching from afar — and keeping Margie at bay — we at last coaxed Maka into a small carrier. (Oh, yes. In the process of staring at her immense cuteness, Cooper couldn’t resist naming her.)
Cooper and Katie took turns sitting next to the carrier on the front porch, waiting for our friend Jackie, the cat whisperer, to return to the neighborhood. Jackie swooped in, took Maka home and convinced her to trust humans and their ways. By the end of the week, Jackie had placed the kitten in a forever home.
Ever since we’ve been enjoying photos and videos of Nellie (her forever name) — a fuzzy reminder of an afternoon in May when, despite crammed schedules and heightened expectations, we banded together for a feline rescue.
Our little team can conquer all of May with gusto. We’ll take it easy some day in June.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.