I smash the alarm off at 6 a.m., pull a hoodie over my unfettered boobs, and knock on three doors. “Hey, sweetie, good morning! Time to get up! School time!” I project perky excitement about the day through a haze of decaffeination, with a lisp from the mouth-guard that keeps me from grinding my teeth into oblivion. My voice is not connected to my brain and my emotions are still sleeping.
Shuffling back into my room, I let my hand slide under the covers to feel the warmth where my body was seconds ago, fight the urge to crawl back in, and do some sun salutations instead. Hello, heartbeat. Hello, middle-aged lower back pain. I crack open Proverbs and read some ancient wisdom. It’s too early for good decisions but I give it a go.
I walk back into the hallway, listening for sounds of movement and hearing nothing. I knock again on three doors. “It’s time! Get up! Up! Up!” I brave their rooms this time, tripping over a cardboard box-turned-doll crib, stepping on a Lego, and getting my ankle caught in a training bra. I hobble to their bedsides, rubbing backs and pulling sheets down to let in the morning air. “Heyyy, lovelyyyy, gotta go to schooooolll,” I purr in soothing tones.
Plodding downstairs, I brew coffee, pop last night’s dirty plates in the dishwasher (don’t judge me), and start a load of laundry. I pack snacks in backpacks, sign permission slips, fill water bottles, and fold a load of clean towels.
The dog has wandered into the kitchen and peed. I discover this by stepping in it, the warm liquid soaking my fuzzy sock. Why does his pee smell like pancake syrup? I still haven’t had my coffee, so my first instinct is to give up and cry.
Instead, I mom-swear. The kind that’s not particularly cathartic but also won’t garner a call from the principal if your child teaches her fellow first-graders. Frick.
Peeling off my sock, I hop to the laundry room on one foot, toss the sock in with the load that’s washing, flop my foot into the sink and wash it off, grab the neutralizing pee-pee spray and paper towels, hop back, clean up the puddle, toss everything in the trash, and get the dog outside even though it’s too late and he’s already gone to the bathroom.
My kids are still not downstairs.
I march my damp foot upstairs and enter each room again. One child is splayed naked in a pile of clothes. One is huddled under the covers. One is having a total meltdown with a hair straightener and a ponytail that won’t defy the laws of physics.
All three scream at me.
I slide the one still in bed onto the floor as gently as possible. I toss clothes on his crumpled body and stretch clean undies over his face, whispering in his ear, “Put these on.”
I jog back downstairs, pick up my coffee, remember breakfast, set it back down, pull out the cereal and milk, then run back up to check the progress. Naked girl has put on her entire wardrobe and somehow gotten hold of big sister’s lipgloss, which she’s wearing as blush. Fine. Good enough.
In the next room, the hair straightener situation has unraveled and the ponytail bit the dust. She now wants me to attempt a complicated series of braids with ten minutes to go before the bus comes. My fingers feel numb, but I get in there and make magic. She inspects the results, discovers a microscopic bump in the back, and rips the whole thing out.
Undie-Head has finally gotten dressed and fallen back asleep on the floor. I pick him up using a fireman’s carry, drag him to the bathroom, insert a toothbrush in his mouth, and try to brush his hair.
They make it downstairs, when I realize they aren’t wearing shoes. They have no idea where the shoes are; the shoes do not exist in this world; they are in a parallel dimension.
We find the shoes. No one is wearing socks.
I take off the shoes, run upstairs for the socks, pull on the socks, and pull on the shoes while shoving bites of cereal at them.
The elementary bus is beeping up the street. We get out the door and on the way to the bus stop they scream at me, “Why didn’t you wake us up earlier?!?” I reply, “I woke you up an hour ago.” They do not believe me. This is all my fault.
As the bus scoops up my littles I race back to the house to check on the middle schooler’s progress. She’s downstairs looking beautiful, lipgloss on and hair perfect. “Did you brush your teeth and wash your face?” I receive a Care Bear Glare.
Back upstairs, she’s washing and brushing, which messes up her hair. Cue meltdown. I start chanting affirmation statements and bible verses to keep her head from spinning around like on The Exorcist.
I toss a granola bar at her as she stomps out the door, and the dog wags his tail.
Finally, after the elementary and middle school busses rumble away with my children, I sit down with my coffee and take a sip. It’s cold.
And this is why I’m excited for summer break.
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