Getting my children, my husband and myself out the door on weekday mornings is not my greatest gift. The person I am in those few hours is absolutely not my best self. I may be doing the next right thing, but I am not very nice about it.
Every week night, I go to bed hopeful. Intent on getting it right tomorrow and not making the same mistakes, somehow I still find myself driving home after getting everyone where he or she needs to be – sometimes even on time – silently beating myself up over how bad I blundered it all again.
It is a race of will that includes five people who each have their own plans and purpose for the day. All wake ready to be their own boss and take charge of their destiny, and none take anyone else’s day into account.
All three children need help getting dressed and putting on their shoes. Everyone needs breakfast and lunch. There are backpacks to check, computers to grab, vitamins to take, last cold sips of coffee, teeth to brush and toys to tell goodbye.
When everyone is ready to leave and the front door opens, the sprint to the finish begins, throwing backpacks and extra diapers or show-and-tell fossils into the car.
“Jack, do you have a mask? You cannot take that slug to school. Ugh, go wash your hands again QUICKLY.”
“Ellie, please, just come on. You don’t need your purse today. Yes, I promise I will look after your baby while you are gone. No, I am sorry, I don’t have any lipstick for you.”
“Gus, put down the rocks and let’s get in the car, please. Ben, do you have my keys?!?! GUS! PUT DOWN THE ROCKS AND DO NOT PLAY IN THAT PUDDLE!”
A comedy of errors that any neighbor audience could enjoy.
I yell. I get really pointed. I criticize Ben for not helping me enough, knowing full-and-damn-well that I have dressed him down in the past because when he tries, it throws me completely off course and disrupts the muscle memory I have created that is my chaotic routine.
Gus and Ellie go with me. Jack goes with Ben. We each pull our cars away from the curb, sometimes honking horns or pretending to race down the street to see who can get to our fork in the road first. Jack waving and blowing kisses with the window down the whole way – rain, sleet, snow or hail.
Ellie smiles as her car door opens and someone from her school picks her out of her car seat in the drop-off line. I always get at least a wave and a smile from her, sometimes a kiss and an audible “bye” as she happily, and seemingly unscarred from the events of the morning, struts in to school.
Gus smiles and says “Good bye, Mama” while he blows kisses with one hand and holds his teacher’s hand with the other. Always, though, with that mischievous grin and those big brown eyes that tell me he does actually love me even though he mostly pretends not to acknowledge my existence.
They all seem fine, but I can’t help but hear that advice people share about how you shouldn’t yell at your kids before they go to school or start to think about how if I died today their last memory of me would be of my 24-hour crazy hair bun, barely brushed teeth, requisite running leggings and random sweat-wicking performance shirt standing at the top of the porch steps yelling “I swear, if you all don’t get in the car! You are all going to be late! Ben, what are y’all doing out here?!? Do I seriously have to do everything? GET IN THE CAR!”
There was a mountain of clean clothes on our bed that needed to be folded. I pile them there on purpose during the day because I can’t ignore them and just go to bed. I have to fold them. The goal is to get it done earlier in the day, but that never happens.
On this night, Ben and I were exhausted, but working on it together. He said, “You know, this morning, we were pulling away from the house while you were locking the front door? Jack said to me, ‘That’s my mom. I love her. She’s my friend.’”
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