June 5, 2009

Non-Specific Ethnic Fire Drill

My failings as a mother are many against all my best intentions. I think it's normal to feel this way, but it doesn't make it any less disconcerting to know that I'm just one of a gazillion moms walking around, shoulders slumped and beating themselves up for how little broccoli they served this week.

If I had to pick one thing I could change about my parenting skills it would be to have more patience. And to be better organized. Okay, two things.

Take this morning for example. At first my intention was to blame this morning on the cat, who adds about 8 more minutes to my finely-timed morning routine which I have down to THE MINUTE like an architect of some well-orchestrated military operation (complete with guttural yelling and copious use of the pejorative "maggot"). Upon further reflection I realize that every morning is pretty much like this and it all seems to hinge on when Tristan wakes up in the morning.

Sure, I could get an alarm clock and establish some actual ROUTINE to our routine, but why do that when I can just complain about it instead?

When Tristan wakes up in the morning he comes in and wakes me up. In the beginning this worked out really well because it was generally around 5AM which gave me time to get up, bump into the doorway a couple times, recover from stepping on Legos with my bare feet, write a little and eat cookies without anyone noticing. This also allowed me to get a shower and get ready before Julius gets up at 7AM.

Now Tristan is sleeping later so I sometimes don't get started on this whole process until closer to 6:30 (or later!) and sometimes that means Julius is up and has to motivate himself to get dressed while I'm in the shower. That rarely works out well as he's not a morning guy AT ALL. And also he refuses to wear his new shoes because they have regular laces and he doesn't like to tie his shoes. So, today for example, he wore an old pair of shoes with the toes worn out looking like someone shot through them with a pistol from the inside. (Insert punchline ending in "shoeicide" here.)

So, the poor child's day generally starts with me telling him to get dressed 343 times in 30 minutes with Tristan mimicking me which makes for a sum total of 686 times he hears that before he can escape my presence. The time I've allotted to getting my own shoes on, packing up my bag, finding my phone and keys, etc got hijacked by Brutus Blogger the cat who has to be put out on the screen porch, have his food and water moved, litterbox relocated, and patted on the head before I sweep him out the back door with my size 8.

That necessitates me barking orders out like a drill sergeant, "Move move move boys! Julius, get the lights. One of you grab my phone. Tristan, where's your shoes buddy? Get on the couch. Hurry hurry hurry. Julius, look for the keys." At which point Tristan starts crying for his blanket because his nice, soft mommy has gone away and been replaced by something that seems way more like the Tazmanian devil complete with flinging saliva and, today at least, coughing up persistent phlegm that might be caused by bronchitis or perhaps pneumonia.

As I whirl past, dust storms trailing me, I glance sideways at my husband who's lying in bed rolled up in a comforter like a hot and tasty man-burrito. For a moment I rethink our unspoken arrangement about him getting to sleep late in exchange for doing the majority of the housework. Then for half a second I fantasize about shooting him with a big super soaker until I realize that would also get my side of the bed wet. Then I sigh and whirl on by yelling, "GO COMMANDOS GO!" as I race back down the hallway, slip on my ugly crocs, grab my bag in one hand and the strap of Tristan's overalls in the other and exit the building with superhuman speed and strength, slamming the door behind me (which has the satisfying added bonus of waking up Rob).

The children, shell-shocked, are quiet in the backseat for once. I'm sure they are back there dreaming of a mom who lovingly strokes their faces as they wake gently from their slumber, who makes hot breakfasts, who has their color-coordinating clothes from Baby Gap and J.Crew laid out in their fabulously decorated room. As I pull up to the school I wonder how many years of therapy this will be good for.

Julius scrambles out of the car and starts to run for the door so he'll get there in time for crappy school breakfast and I yell, "Hey, Jules... try not to be too handsome!" He turns and smiles, the heart-melting dimple appears in his left cheek. He looks slightly embarrassed, but highly pleased and I hope for a small second that I've redeemed myself.

Until tomorrow when we start all over again.

49 comments:

  1. It's like I was reading my exact daily routine!! My husband and I also have an unspoken sleeping in late arrangement and I'm with you on the super soaking him fantasies!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Things to look forward to... I think.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love your writing, because you find a way to eloquently say what I think EVERY MORNING!

    And I only have one, lord help me when #2 comes along [sigh]

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mine are in their teens now but those were my days ..

    Sipping coffee now ...

    Glad it's you and not me anymore

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a near-exact re-cap of my morning. Minus the cat.

    ReplyDelete
  6. aww.. the good ol days! hehe ;)
    hang in there.. it gets better!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, I am sooo spoiled! My two oldest are grown and out of the house, and my little one is 9. He get himself up, dressed, gets his own breakfast and ready for school. He is so easy! When my two older ones were little, it was the drill sergeant routine and barking orders.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am so glad that our town is small enough that I didn't need to drive the kids to school. When they got older they figured out that if they didn't get noisy enough to wake me they didn't have to listen to me barking orders.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh my. Thank goodness for school buses.

    ReplyDelete
  10. OMG?! My mom wasn't the only one?! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's not jsut you. At least you're married to a man burrito.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your blog comforts me in so many ways, to know I'm not alone in the loopy mom world known only by the mom of small children. Delightful read every time! I just wish my husband was rolled up in bed like that every morning, he's at work by 6, haven't seen him on weekday mornings in years.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Try not to be too handsome"-totally redeemed yourself! I might have to use that if you don't mind.

    You have illustrated all the reasons I'm soooo glad school is out for Summer. And that tomorrow is the last of our Saturday morning soccer games. Now I don't have to sit and sulk because I was a raving mad woman before we got to the game.

    Sometimes I'm not even that gracious with my Man Burrito. And make no mistake mine *smells* like a man burrito. ;) Don't tell him I said that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Amen to all of that! I know how you feel, I really struggle with patience and being organized. I love the "idea" of being organized, but for some reason, it's not in my genetic makeup! Your post has made me feel better that I am not alone!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wendy, you made me laugh on a day when I needed it. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Can't bring myself to set the alarm clock either, even though that would probably be the smart thing to do. No idea why the 15 minutes of sleep I would lose would be so painful -- could probably even get a shower every day if I did it, but what's the sport in that?!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Our morning routine is a little different. Brittany and I both first spend several early morning minutes attempting to beat the alarm clocks into submissive silence. When that fails, she slowly climbs out of bed and shambles down the hall. I'm not entirely certain what she does during this time (and I'm not sure I want to know), but a few minutes later and she's back in our room, poking a sharp and violent looking fingernail into my chest.

    So, I get up and stumble down the hallway to wake up the monkey. She goes into the kitchen and makes his chocolate milk, then comes back and picks out his clothes. By this time, she usually enters his room to find Trey wrapped in a blanket and sitting on my lap, as my head droops down onto his and I start to snore.

    This Does Not Make Her Happy. So, I startle awake and change Trey's pull-up, then she hands me his clothes and I get him dressed. If we're lucky, he's satisfied with her fashion choices. If we're not, we could be staring down the double-barrels of a full-on Trey Shotgun blast of fury, which we can either yield to and spend fifteen minutes frantically searching for the missing Mickey Shoe, or oppose and suffer the miserable guilt of his crocodile tears.

    Either way, eventually he makes it into Brittany's car and I return inside to fall back to sleep. Only, don't tell Brittany I do that. I fear for my safety.

    Kristian
    Coquetting Tarradiddles

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm just not completely comfortable envisioning my brother as a "hot and tasty man-burrito". Please excuse me while I go poke out my mental eye ...

    ReplyDelete
  19. I get terrible mom-i-tis as well.

    How I deal with my guilt of screwing up my boys are these 5 things:

    1. I buy them stuff they like. Like the chocolate monster big muffins from Costco.
    2. I drive them (the younger one, I give the 18 year old gas money), all over kingdom come.
    3. I play scrabble or Texas-Hold-em with them. (They like this kind of thing a couple of times a year. Most of the time they ignore me)
    4. I pretend I'm invisible when dropping the 14 year old at school- I try not to make eye contact with his friends or smother him with hugs and kisses. (Ok, not all the time...)
    5. At the end of the day, right before I hit the pillow to pass out, I answer the phone call from my 18 year old and tell him firmly that I was serious about his curfew and to get his butt home.Pronto.

    I feel absolved...most of the time being a mom is just all about feedin' 'em, drivin' 'em, hangin' with 'em and saving them from all kinds of danger...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Tatiana, I don't know you guys but that is hilarious!

    What is up with moms who know how to/take to time to decorate so perfectly? That skill must have either been left out of my DNA or else my upbringing--oh wait, both.

    I am planning on homeschooling for the sheer reason that I don't DO mornings. OK, maybe not the only reason, but in the back of my mind I have this romanticized idea of not officially starting the school day until 10 or 10:30. We shall see. PBS kids is educational, right?

    ReplyDelete
  21. When I was young, my mom enjoyed singing me awake with either a selection from Wham! or "Wake Up, Little Suzy" (which was not appreciated for a variety of reasons). I think I might have preferred the drill sergeant routine.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow, Are you spying on us? That's what we do daily here, except on top of the cat, add the dog, and 2 more kids, and Hubby is in Iraq, so I couldnt squirt him with the super soaker, even if I wanted too, lol!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Whoa! You are like, manically busy! Happy Friday. Tomorrow you can be a SIB mom like me. (Stay in bed mom, that is).

    ReplyDelete
  24. Doesn't summer break start soon? I know that comes with a whole new set of child related issues, but it sounds like you need to be a SIB for a bit, like Lawyer Mom said.

    ReplyDelete
  25. We had some ice days to make up.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Man burrito... that's priceless. Does he scrub toilets??

    ReplyDelete
  27. You crack me up. Nice writing - creatively and grammatically.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Ha, instead of my mom waking me up, I'm the one who's gotta wake her up. At least I dont have to make sure she gets dressed =p

    ReplyDelete
  29. If all you want is more patience and organization, you are light years ahead of me. Don't worry - the day will arrive when they stand in your doorway and say, "Bye, Mom." Absolute heaven, as you roll over and warm up next to that burrito.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have to say that I love your blog. I am sure it will give me tons of humorous reading material in the future. It's real life not taken too seriously, and I love it. Thanks for blogging!

    ReplyDelete
  31. As neither a fellow mother, nor adult, I can safely say I have no real reason to comment. However my mum often feels the same way you do, and her children are now 15 and 17. I think it has something to do with the pressure of "keeping up appearances" but what do I know.. Im just a teen spectating.
    I loved reading this :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow superb keep it up

    Regards
    Salman
    www.tips4blogging.co.cc for blogging tips and hacks.

    ReplyDelete
  33. thanks Wendy! computer guru says he can recover my files.. so fingers crossed!!! sorry your hubby had the same ordeal.. it really is stressful! and a solid reminder to BACK UP EVERYTHING!!! OFTEN!!!

    have a great weekend!
    -Tracie

    ReplyDelete
  34. I love it, I can SO relate to a lot of it! And you are a fantastic writer!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Wow. That's birth control for me! Just kidding. I can't wait to be a mommy some day, even with all the adventures...

    But, I'm still trying to get the most out of this single-hood for now. I've got plenty of time before I have all that stress!

    ReplyDelete
  36. What an excellent story about motherhood and routines. I think as mothers we all go through these same phases and regrets only to repeat them again when we said we would be patient next time. Bottom line, our children understand we love them because we're there everyday. Keep chugging. Have a great day.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Don't worry, this too shall pass. And I'm afraid it passes much too quickly. It seems like only yesterday I lived that life. Now my kids are grown and gone and they seem no worse for wear. Don't beat yourself up so much. You're doing the best you can. I don't care what anyone says, no one can be perfect in everything when they are working, a mom, a wife, and keeping a home. The kids won't remember this stuff. I promise you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. You've redeemed yourself, simply by turning this all into a great post!

    I mean, like, a really great post.

    ReplyDelete
  39. See, this is the beauty of diversity. Your life is just a nightmare to me, and yet, there you are, so happy and fulfilled. Whodathunkit? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Sounds EXACTLY like mornings in my house. Glad to know I'm not alone. And I could use a healthy dose of patience, too. If you figure out how to get some, let me know!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Wonderful writing.
    I have only one but it sounds just the same. However I never blame myself... Its always Dad's fault for not getting up and helping.
    We mothers are fantastic.
    By the way, organization is not all that its cracked up to be...If you were , we would not have this entertaining blog to read and T & J would not get a taste of the real world.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks for the moral support.:-)

    I will try your mantra idea the next time the kids are exploring the concept of homicidal sibling rivalry. I should get away with it, as the sight of me muttering under my breath is a familiar one round here. I have also found that laughing in the face of adversity, while trying not to descend into manic hysteria, works well too.

    I've been enjoying reading your blog posts. There is a lot in them that all parents will recognise and empathise with.

    I suspect that niggling feeling of inadequacy is a normal state for mothers. Most of us worry about whether we are dong a good enough job, but the ones that think they are doing a perfect job are just plain scary.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Wow, it's a nice posting. I like it.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Silly Wendy; that's EVERY Mom's morning. :) Only I think I may have sacrificed my side of the bed and shot the husband with the super soaker. or maybe short-sheeted him...

    ReplyDelete
  45. For a moment I rethink our unspoken arrangement about him getting to sleep late in exchange for doing the majority of the housework.

    I am such an idiot. I never thought to make an arrangement like this. Right now, the spouse gets to sleep for free.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Wendy, love your writing voice. I just read you for the first time. I'm a mom dreaming of writing something that others might consider actually reading. Do you write for pay, or just for fun?

    ReplyDelete
  47. OH my Goodness!!! That is so funny when it comes from someone else!!! We have 3 boys and I always feel like a drill sargent...even have the tactical hand signs down pat- things like "I'm watchin' you", "don't make me come over there" and many many more!! I've been told these days will fly by, but I think its an inside joke from those who've gone before us!

    Thanks again, it was great!

    ReplyDelete

Tell me what's on your mind!