School has just started and it’s already happening.
You know that mom who’s always running across the blacktop as the school bell rings, dragging a reluctant kindergartener with each hand, desperately trying to make eye contact with the teacher so she’ll hold the door open for juuuuust a minute longer? WHAT A DAMN MESS THAT MOM IS.
Also, hi, that mom is me.
I am not a morning person. So getting my ‘spirited’ four and five-year-olds fed, dressed and off to school by 8:30 a.m. – yup! I suck at it.
There are plenty of reasons I’m perpetually late getting my kids to school, but a lack of planning isn’t one. Every school year, at night, I make my kids’ lunches and pack their school bags with spare clothes, library books, show-and-tell items and whatever other arbitrary nonsense has been requested just to test my patience and my parenting skills (a ‘Q’ item, a photo of our family pet, 100 paper clips, an autographed first edition Hemingway classic, the actual Holy Grail). I pack it all. Then I place those bags neatly in the front hall, and in the winter, I put them next to their snow pants, jackets and boots. I put their mittens and hats in their bags, assess my neatly organized foyer, and go to bed knowing that it means nothing. NOTHING!
The morning is a shit show. My husband wakes up the kids, one of whom bounds out of bed fully awake but inexplicably angry. The other hides under the covers like a teenager, demanding “five more minutes”, which she gets. Woken up again, she remains unsatisfied with the twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep she just enjoyed – the type of sleep parents only dream of – and vocalizes this with fervor. We head downstairs and while her brother yells about yogurt, she flops onto the couch, often explaining why she can’t attend school that day. (Side note: she actually LOVES school. She just doesn’t like mornings. Thanks, genetics.)
My husband gets to leave for work at this point, which is great (for him).
I make a quick breakfast for the kids – usually oatmeal, cereal or fruit and yogurt – and get myself dressed while they eat RIDICULOUSLY slowly. Like, so slowly that you’d think they can’t possibly be hungry, but when you try to take their bowls away to expedite the whole getting-them-to-school-on-time process, they loudly protest that they are STILL! EATING! Ok, ok. You have two more minutes.
I finally get them through the torture that is breakfast and hand them each a full outfit, which they simply have to put on their bodies. It doesn’t happen.
We argue about pants (they don’t want those ones).
We argue about underpants (yes, you have to wear them).
We argue about socks (too high, too scratchy, yes you have to wear them).
I have usually fallen into a rage blackout at this point, but eventually, I find myself in my car with my children. This is especially ridiculous because we live walking distance from the school, and I love walking almost as much as I hate driving. However, worse than driving is dragging two tired, stubborn children to school before I’ve had a coffee.
Do you know what turns a pleasant seven minute walk into a 30-minute nightmare? Kids.
So there we are every morning, running across the blacktop while the other parents and children stand around the kindergarten pen in an orderly fashion, looking much more composed than I ever do. Some of them are even holding lattes from nearby coffee shops, which makes me wonder what time they get up in the morning and if they secretly have personal assistants. How else can you be somewhere before 9:00 a.m. with your hair looking good and your kids all neatly dressed? My kids usually have oatmeal somewhere on their faces, which I spit-clean off as I hand them off to their teachers.
There is no coffee for me until I hit the drive-thru post drop-off. That’s when the magic happens, and my human self emerges from its tired cocoon. I imagine that my children go through a similar metamorphosis when the sugar from that instant oatmeal hits their systems. You’re welcome, kids.
Weekday mornings suck in my house. What could I do differently? Well, I could get up earlier, or send my kids to school naked, but I haven’t had success with either strategy thus far. I could become a morning person or change my kids’ personalities, but I don’t think those are feasible ideas either. Plus, they’re largely demonstrating my gene pool in action – how can I fault them for being just like me? This is what my mom calls payback.
So we forge on like brave little soldiers/the neighbour sideshow, knowing that one day, mornings will get a LITTLE easier for us all. Maybe. I hope.
A version of this post originally appeared on mabelhood.com and is shared here with the author’s permission.