Sitting in the carpool line waiting to drop off my kids at pre-school, I can’t help but notice that none of the other Moms look like they are suffering from PTSD. Beads of sweat still linger on my brow; my eyelid won’t stop twitching. A bird chirps from a nearby tree and, startled, my head spins around and I reflexively scream, “I SWEAR TO GOD IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY GET YOUR SHOES ON!”. My kids seem unfazed at my sudden outburst.
Now mind you – we only sit in the carpool line if our morning has gone exactly according to plan, which is about once a year. Most days I’m Dukes of Hazzard-ing it into the church parking lot, hubcaps flying off my mini van as I take the corner, praying that I’m not too late to make the drop and don’t have to do the dreaded We’re Late Walk Of Shame into the front doors.
No – we didn’t have a dentist appointment. No – the car is running fine. Somebody pooped, or spilled, or had a last-minute change of heart about their underwear choice.
Five times out of ten I am the Somebody.
My alarm goes off at 6:30am and I arise with a renewed sense of optimism, my brain blocking out our hundreds of previous attempts to get out the door that have gone down in a blaze of glory. Today will be different. Today we will be on time.
Getting the four of us girls presentable for public viewing takes a minimum of an hour and a half. It doesn’t seem to matter if I start earlier; the time space continuum vortex spirals over our home and sucks the minutes away into some sort of vacuum with the lost socks and my frying pan that I’m convinced was eaten by my cabinet.
I try to shower before they wake. That never happens. They hear my eyes open and run into my room. As I get ready to step into the shower I spend 20 minutes answering questions like, “What are those things on your legs?” I explain they are nipples and then we have a lesson on gravity.
There are six steps in our morning routine:
1. Make bed
2. Get dressed
3. Brush teeth
4. Do hair
5. Eat breakfast
6. Put on shoes and coat and get school bag
Which materialize as:
1. Throw self on floor because covers keep “messing up”
2. Engage in guerrilla style hand to hand combat over who has rights to the sparkly cat t-shirt
3. Squirt toothpaste all over toilet seat, lick it off
4. Cry and manically shake hair out with hands as they run into bedroom because I used the pink, not the purple hair tie on requested five point elaborate braid/twist/updo
5. Spill milk and food all over themselves
6. Stare catatonically into space, remain unresponsive until I pretend like I am leaving without them
Last week, by some miracle straight from God, we were on time. Everything was running smoothly and I went to the garage to warm up the van. Just as I walked back in the door my daughter threw up all over herself. Twice. And – in not my proudest moment – I decided it was just a result of milk overload and I wiped her down, sprayed her with some Glade and instructed her not to mention this to anybody. I had an appointment to get my car fixed that I had been putting off for two weeks and there’s no way I was taking a barfy kid to sit in an automotive repair shop for two hours.
“I’ll just go pick her up if she barfs again,” I reasoned, turning off my cell phone and settling into my magazine.
A few days later, again as the van was warming up and we were on our way out the door, my 3-year-old starts screaming from the bathroom that she peed. Upon entering, I saw she was unable to get her pants off fast enough and was standing in a puddle of urine. Unlike the barf, this one required a bath.
My girls are 2, 3 and 4 and every morning it’s like herding cats. Without any legs. That won’t stop screaming because the purple socks are in the dirty laundry. Every day is a 90-minute exercise in self-restraint. I finally get to use my Lamaze breathing as I resist the urge to grab a bottle of whiskey. Not to drink, but to hit myself over the head with.
I just keep telling myself that as painful as it is to get everyone ready, it sure beats the alternative.
Keeping everyone home.