I have a confession to make. I never thought I was the kind of girl to play the field or juggle more than one relationship at a time, but somehow I’ve found myself entangled in not one, not two….but three simultaneous commitments. I’d love to say I don’t know how I got here, but the truth is I knew exactly what I was doing. In the beginning it was fun, it was easy, and it was deeply satisfying. But that was then and this is now. And right now it’s complicated.

I guess if I really wanted to, I could blame the kids. After all, I did it for them. Sure, I am the one who went ahead and signed up, but they encouraged me to do so. They wanted in on the fun, too. Only now, as I sift through a few dozen books, trying to place where they belong and when they are due, I’m struggling to identify the “fun” part of having accounts in three different libraries.

I suppose it could be worse. We actually have current cards in five different libraries, all in different towns or counties. The fact that we are only actively using three of those is actually a testament to my willpower.( Or maybe it’s because we haven’t been frequenting the towns where the other two are located, but the first thing sounds better, so I’m going with that.)

Checking out books is the easy part. Anytime we are in the vicinity of one of our libraries, we simply pop in and pick up a few selections. One of our favorite locations even prints us out a nice little receipt that lists all the titles and their due dates. This would be a very handy slip of paper if I didn’t promptly drop into my handbag, where it is doomed to spend eternity caught up in a secret vortex that churns important items into food for the tiny overlords that dwell in the bottomless abyss that lies someplace beneath the fabric lining.

Another library we frequent has a fantastic selection of books, but no fancy scanner or printout. They actually still stamp the date on a little book card that sits in a little pocket on the inside cover. It’s quaint, old-fashioned, and only sometimes gives me slightly horrifying flashbacks of that time in the 3rd grade when Tommy Wilson smashed cafeteria meatloaf between the pages of my borrowed copy of Little House on the Prairie. But that’s another story for another day (translation: a repressed trauma better shared with a therapist).

Anyway, because this library has no printout or online system to look up which books we are currently borrowing, we have to really keep track of the titles and due dates. And, since you already know about my sensational handbag filing system, you can imagine how well the “filing it in my memory” option works. When memory fails, I’m forced to call and inquire about which items I’ve checked out, because even if I collect and return every book I can find with a stamped book card, there is always one left tucked away under the seat of the car, behind the couch, or packed away with the Christmas decorations. And as much as I hate to call and talk to a real, live person on the phone, I’ve discovered this form of communication is much less painful than finding an 11-months past due book with a $78.00 late fee in your Christmas stocking.

I suppose I should limit our library borrowing to just one location, but it’s hard to commit to only one when they all offer so many great activities for homeschoolers. And once we are there for a program or event, it’s really, really hard to walk by all of those beautiful bookshelves without stopping for a look.

And looking leads to touching…touching leads to opening….opening leads to scanning the pages…

The next thing I know we’re at the checkout desk with a pile of books so high, it makes me wonder why this place doesn’t have shopping carts, or, better yet, a bellhop.

Of course, the librarian fails to see the humor (or the sheer genius) in my bellhop suggestion, so we sheepishly retreat to the parking lot and drop our armloads of books into the trunk of the car.

And it’s then that I notice another stack of books – the ones I placed there when they were due a week ago at a different library in a whole other town.

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