Every Wednesday, dearest partner gets up at dark o’clock to drive to her office in New Jersey, over three hours away. The rest of the week she telecommutes from home, and generally speaking, this is a good arrangement for us. Well, it’s a good arrangement for us, except on Wednesday mornings, at which time it is a really lousy arrangement for me.
Wednesdays used to be days when I was home with the kids, and we could get off to a leisurely start, cutting through the haze with the conjoined narcotics of television (them) and caffeine (me). Now that I am severely overemployed, they go to school and I go to work on Wednesday mornings. None of us is adjusting well. The last few weeks have felt surprisingly manageable from a job/kids juggling perspective, which I now realize is largely due to the fact that because of weather and illness, DP has not gone to New Jersey in a while. Short of moving to New Jersey, I’m trying to figure out how I can rig things so she is NEVER AWAY AGAIN.
So, this morning we all wake up bright and early, on time for a change, and toodle happily downstairs for breakfast. I make the fatal mistake of thinking to myself, “hey, this morning is going pretty well!” Apparently, god heard me.
Henry, who had a poopy diaper but refused to let me change it, got predictably crabby as he sat in it, at the table, and he predictably started to throw food. When I removed him from the table to put him in the corner, he bit me. Lovely. He has been biting me for two years now, and it still sends my blood pressure through the roof. We have come a long way with the biting, and it happens relatively rarely now, but as I have mentioned before it is now a matter of malice aforethought. He’s not doing it because for some strange reason he’s wired to communicate with his teeth. He’s doing it because he knows it makes me furious. Predictably, I got furious. Great, happy mommy moment. Screaming at your kid before 7:30 am. Go me.
So after time out, we changed the stupid diaper that was probably the cause of all of this, and I hoped to move on. Everyone had enough breakfast, they were both completely dressed right down to socks, and I put on a TiVOed episode of Bear in the Big Blue House (or, as we like to say, blear in the blig blue house). I told them I was going upstairs for a shower, and I’d be back in 10 minutes.
Personal hygiene tasks were performed, and just as I was getting ready to get out of the shower, what do I spy through the frosted glass of the shower door but two preschoolers in the process of GETTING BUCK NAKED? NOOOOOO!
Now, those of you who have preschoolers know this, and those of you who have not experienced it or blocked it out of your memories, you may now avert your eyes, because getting preschoolers dressed is not a simple matter of applying pants and shirts to legs and arms. Instead, it is a complex dance of will and mastery, a furious ballet of control and individual self-determination: a pitched battle of Lilliputian grit. Or, at worst, it’s a freakin wrestling match, rarely won physically and never won emotionally by the hapless parent. Two naked preschoolers at five minutes of 8 o’clock in the morning is not a sight any working parent wants to see. Especially when they’re giggling to each other and running away from you. Trust me on this one.
After a certain amount of screeching from me about how if they could take their clothes off in thirty seconds they’d damn well better be able to put them back on in three minutes, I relented and assisted them both in selecting Completely Different OutfitsTM to wear. We have now only reached the level of Moderately Late, and aside from the really inappropriate amount of screaming and screeching I have done before 9 am, I’m feeling like I might just survive the morning. And god laughs again.
Again predictably, the house looks like it has been tossed by the mob, complete with a cheerio situation in the dining room and generalized, diffuse crap all over the living room. I turn down the heat and try to forget as I dog-proof the house as best I can (perhaps she’ll spend the day trying to get the cheerios out of the dining room molding—a girl can hope) while exercising ultimate futility by exhorting the short people to put on their coats. We begin the daily shoe struggle, which typically involves catering to Eleanor’s competing longing to wear Special Shoes, while not getting her Special Shoes even the tiniest bit wet (did I mention there’s 3 inches of blowing snow on the ground?). Finally, everyone is relatively appropriately dressed for 10-degree F weather, and I go out to the car. The new minivan. With the sliding doors. The sliding doors. On both sides. WHICH ARE FROZEN SHUT. I yank. I pull. I chip. I kick. I try the other side. Both doors are completely frozen shut despite the fact that my car spent the night in a garage (though it did get quite a nice coating of icy snow yesterday afternoon at the office, which apparently melted and then froze overnight). In go the kids via the back hatch. I would just like to say that this is NOT what I had in mind when I got the “family-friendly minivan.”
While all this is happening, Eleanor changes her shoes AGAIN, and, more importantly, the dog trots out into the driveway. This is never a good sign. She gives me that look, the sideways one that is basically equivalent to the one I got from the naked preschoolers less than 20 minutes before, and RUNS AWAY. Across the street, into the neighbor’s yard, with me pathetically chasing after her screaming threats and general unpleasantness. For those keeping score at home, that’s screaming fit number three for the morning. It is now 8:30 am. We are Officially Late.
So, relatively brief meltdowns about a) competing childrens’ desires to switch or not switch usual carseat configurations, b) not wanting to go to school at all (cue guilt quickly quelled by extreme desire to sit in an office among adults in complete absence of almost-three-year-olds), and c) wanting to bring our guitars to school but not wanting to share them. Bring recycling to corner. Bring milk in to house. (Why is it that Wednesday is the day that everything is brought to and taken away from our house?) Still no sign of dog. Scream the dog’s name a few more times from end of driveway. Resign self to driving around in search of dog.
The dog has done this before, and when my neighbors are home, they are generally willing to let her in when she finally comes home. But today it’s 10 degrees F with a windchill factor of way below icy and I won’t be home for 9 hours. So around we drive, stalking the medical building on the next block, remembering the time my friend called to say she saw my dog out the window from between the stirrups at the OB’s office. After two full tours of the neighborhood, I return to the dog on the doorstep. It is now 9 am. Current status: Obscenely Late. I resist undertaking another screaming fit and let the dog in, replenish my coffee, and hit the road, ignoring the argument about who gets to talk right now coming from the back seat and trying not to get into an accident on the extremely icy road.
We arrive at school, with Eleanor taking a final stand on footwear upon arrival that results in me carrying her into the building in her socks. When we arrive at school I realize that this drama is all in service of her desire to wear the teletubby sandals her teacher gave her to wear yesterday, that are now Most Coveted and apparently worthy of major scheming. Apparently my promise that she could wear them when we get to school (and may I note, these are SANDALS so outside the classroom is not really an option) was not good enough, and she needed extra insurance. Shoe drama, explained.
I gather that I was not alone in having a truly shitty morning, and, like Jody, Julia’s news puts it all in perspective (I won’t link here since she really doesn’t need a trackback bitching about life with twins, but see the bottom of Jody’s entry), but man. Off to begin the wild rumpus again. Let’s see if I can make it to bedtime under my morning scream quotient. No guarantees.