A Day in the life....
The only true natural predator of the working mother is morning. In my personal experience there is really no difference between the Monday species and the celebrated Friday variety. All of them have the skill of surprise and can be equally as deadly.
There are zillions of books and websites dedicated to survival strategies for working mothers. How to Build a Better Tomorrow, Today, How to Control Your Children At Sunrise Without a Stake and Holy Water, How to Make It Through The Morning Without a Homicide, and the list goes on. Trust me I have read them all. The truth be told however, they are all a con, a farce, an unobtainable fairy tale twisted into giving you false hope. All for the price of $19.99 at your local bookstore. Well I am not here to make the mighty buck at the expense of your waning sanity. No, I am here to tell you simply that you are not alone.
Even friendly physicians and trusted psychiatrists will lure you in their practices with rays of hope only to profit from your $75 a second office visit. Oh sure, they are positive influences and they seem sympathetic, but all the while they are planning to run off with their nurse to Rio with your hard earned dollars.
The pharmaceutical companies also have a hand in this lucrative issue by selling you thousands of anti-depressants, mood enhancers, and herbal supplements guaranteed to ease your weary minds.
Retail companies prey upon you as well selling you millions of dollars of conveniences such as microwaves, one-cup coffee pots, fabric wrinkle reducer, frozen breakfasts, waterless soaps, permanent hair gels, and easy-on children's apparel. I urge you not to fall victim to their bogus claims. There is no cure, there is no protection, there is no hope. The only thing left for us to do is throw in the towel, let go, and let fate just take its course.
I have raised two sets of children working full-time. I have planned, organized, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning anticipating any and all family malfunctions that could possibly occur, and not one of my fool-proof ideas has made an inkling of difference. It is still a fight to hold on to my sanity and survive the day unscathed. My job requires me to report to work at 9am Monday through Friday. I have 15 free hours a day and two "free" days a week to prepare myself for this seemingly simple task. This is my story. It takes place on any given morning, during any given month, and definitely each and every given year for the rest of my exhausted existence.
5:45 am - I pull my exhausted body out of the warmth of a comfortable bed. With my eyes still sandy I stagger mindlessly to the shower. Fortunately as a woman I was born with a built in radar that leads me through a mine field of toys, dirty laundry, and other dangerous obstacles. Over the years I have also acquired callouses and enough scar tissue on my toes and shins to protect me from any thing popping up unexpectedly. As the steamy water cascades over my increasingly tensing body I begin the war games in my head. The enemy is already perched in the tall grass awaiting its chance to strike.
6:00 am - It is time to let the dog out. Simple right? Wrong, she has already tinkled on the mat in front of the door. I would have let her out before my shower, but still being half asleep the thought never crossed my mind.
6:02am - Setting myself on auto-pilot, I begin my beauty regiment. This is not an act of vanity, but a requirement of greeting the public. No person in their right mind wants to conduct important business with a green-toothed woman, who has not plucked an eye brow in decades, applied concealer to her darkened circles, or applied moisturizer to her wrinkle face. This takes away any respect I have earned with my brilliant professional savvy immediately. I learned this the hard way when I lost a huge project to a flawlessly groomed high school student who worked in the mail room one summer.
6:17 am - While the house is still quiet I take a moment to feed and water the dog, three cats, two guinea pigs, twelve tropical fish, and one brown houseplant that I think used to be an ivy before it came to live with us. All I can add to that fact is I count my lucky stars everyday that my children were not born green. I then spend another few minutes conducting a treasure hunt in the litter boxes and carry the trash to curb. I am not sure how my husband makes it out of the house every morning without so much as one crisis or one morning family duty, but he does. I keep telling myself I am going to watch and learn, but I just do not have the energy.
6:45 am -At this point of the morning my eye begins its instinctive twitch and the muscles in my shoulders become so rigid I could cut glass with them. IT IS TIME TO WAKE THE CHILDREN. Now don't get me wrong, my children are angels. They are sweet, polite, generous creatures that just happen to attract chaos and destruction like a corpse attracts flies. I tiptoe into their rooms greeting them in with a sing-song voice Julie Andrews would envy.
"Wake up my precious babies, it is time to start our happy day."
I watch with much anticipation what sequence their eyes open. I have observed that if the left one opens first the whining will follow and all hell breaks loose, but if the right one opens first then there is this slim chance we may get out the door by 8:53 am without too much suffering. I am in luck this fine day for it is the left eye of both children that opens first. Let the whining fest begin!
6:55 am- While the toddler clings to my heels and my six year old daughter finds drama in the easiest of routines, I try to begin breakfast. Have you ever attempted to chisel frozen waffles apart while a baby chews on your toes and a child makes roaring noises comparable to that of a freight train? For your sake, I hope not. While continuing my dance around the kitchen, which for the record was not cleaned last night simply because I lay on the couch exhausted praying for a death that did not come, I must stop to snap buttons, brush hair, and save the cat from an untimely death caused by the toddler who finds squeezing her neck until her eyes pop out fascinating. I finally throw breakfast on the table with the expertise of a seasoned waitress only to be rewarded with the usual statement. Funny, after 23 years if raising children I never see this coming.
"I don't wanna eat that mommy!"
This information is never spoken to me, but screamed at the decimal level of the last rock concert I attended in the days before life killed me. If I was the mother I only dreamed of being, I would have told her to starve, but it is messy tying to explain to Child Social Services why she only weighs two pounds at the age of six. I then spend another 15 minutes reciting to her the alternate breakfasts. Finally she agrees to eat the lunch that was pre-packed the night before. Now I have the pleasure of throwing together another sandwich, filling snack bags with small bears and cheese fish, and then searching for another juice box to only find a wine cooler and a Slim-fast as my choices. I throw the wine cooler in her lunch box thinking that maybe the fruit flavor will mask the taste of malt.
7:20 am - My toddler is now throwing himself backward brushing syrup covered hands through his hair while screaming as if I am holding his hand to a lit cigarette. I am merely trying to wash his face so I may dress him, but with the determination of a bull he fights me right down to the very last sock. Now with his hair spiked with
Mrs Buttersworth and his clothes somewhat attached to his body I attempt to catch my breath and wipe the sweat from my brow. Someone needs to develop a line of toddler clothing that is literally wash-and-wear. The proto-type would be a stylish ensemble you placed on the child to be worn until he/she grows out of it. As the child soiled his clothing you merely took said child outside hung him on the hook supplied by the manufactor and then hose him off with a standard garden hose. The futuristic material would then dry immediately upon contact with air. This line of apparel would be available in sizes birth to pre-teen and would be available year round.
7:35 am - Now that both children are dressed and entertained in front of the television (an educational program, of course) I touch up my make-up and hair. I reach for the clothes I have laid out the previous night only to find that at some point the cat coughed up a fur ball the size of a watermelon on them. Since I did not make it to the dry cleaner yesterday because of a unplanned stop at the grocer for yet another gallon of milk and a loaf of bread, I have to frantically search through the closet for a second choice. To my dismay I discover I am left to choose between a forest green polyester skirt and a red Christmas sweater or a pair of torn faded Levis and a Metalica tee-shirt. I quickly turn on the radio in the bedroom and search the channels for a weather broadcast.
"Today's forecast is sunny and hot, highs in the upper 80s. It looks like Summer is finally here!", the smooth baritone voice proclaims.
I examine the sweater to see if I can at least turn the sweater inside out to disguise the smiling Santa but I find the pattern would still be visible, the seams are obvious ,and the sweater is more stringy. Maybe if I throw on a assorted seasonal jewelry everyone will think it is just a new fashion fad that Cosmopolitain has not released to the public. I will just tell my co-workers I am on an exclusive emailing list...Yeah, that should work. I dress swiftly and dig through my jewelry box for a pair of skeleton earrings and Valentine heart choker.
7:55 am - I return to the living room to find the six year old has undressed her brother because she thought she "smelled" something suspicious. He is happily running through the house watering the carpet and fondling himself.
8:10 am - The toddler is now redressed, and I am scurry through the house grabbing up things I need to load into the car.
8:12 am - I now load the car with a diaper bag, a backpack, two packed lunches, four over-due library books, two rented DVDs, a briefcase and my purse. I also unload the car of four dolls, two sippy cups still filled with some chunky white liquid that may have been milk from last week, a lone shoe, three "binkies", and what looks to be a banana peel.
8:20 am - I gather up the children, turn off seven burning lights, a hair iron, a television, a radio, and a coffee pot that I never even poured a cup from. While scoping the house one last time with my eyes. I spot the dog doing the pee pee dance again at the back door. I put the toddler down and let the dog out. I call the dog after two minutes who is now chasing a squirrel and refuses to come in. I calmly slam the door and go to find the toddler who is now swishing his bath toys around in the toilet.
8:28 am - The toddler has now been dressed a total of three times, and I finally turn the lock on the front door.
8:29 am - The only thing comparable to putting a toddler in a car seat is is giving a cat a bath. They scream, arch their back, bite, scratch, and do everything in their power to escape. I consider tying him to the hood of the car, but I am afraid of having to change him again to remove the dead bugs from his bib.
8:33 am - I have successfully inserted a very angry toddler into the car seat, and I circle the car to help my daughter fasten her seat belt. I feel a sense of relief as I hear the buckle click since I know the struggle will be over soon. I will definitely be on time today!
8:33.52 am - What is that foul stench...OH SH...! I unbuckle my daughter and order her back to the house as I re-circle the car to unload a happy, but smelly baby.
8:38 am - I am again struggling with an angry toddler that at least smells better. I go to the other side buckle in my daughter for the second time and silently remind myself that I can still make it to work on time if I just remain calm.
8:45 am - I steer the six year old into her classroom while struggling to balance the toddler on my hip while holding onto a diaper bag and a backpack with my teeth.
8:46 am - I hand over a screaming toddler to his teacher and shout out our morning activities and food intake to her like a drill sargent. The toddler is happy to see the 12 other children he can spend the day biting and pulling their hair, but just as I am about to turn to go I hear his pathetic wales.
Since I am still opting for Mother-of-the-Year I scoop him up in my arms for extra hugs and kisses. Also by this time my daughter has escaped her classroom and is standing in the doorway proclaiming he is getting more kisses than she did. I gently sit the toddler back down and hand him a toy to play with. He immediately discards it and proceeds to pull a little girl's hair, but at least he is laughing, and I can disappear unnoticed. I lead my daughter back down the hallway hugging her to my side, and I give her one last kiss. I leave her with the knowledge that since she is the only girl she is my favorite. All my children are my favorite, but each one has the special knowledge they are the "real" favorite. I have a high yield savings just for their therapy.
8:51 am - I sit behind the wheel of my car again thanking the fates that I work only another two minutes away. I put the car in reverse and as I turn my head I notice my daughter's lunch still sitting in the car. I throw the car in park and run back into the daycare center hoping no one who lives with me notices.
8:53 am - The car is again in reverse. I exhale a huge sigh of relief and decide as soon as I get to the office I am pouring a huge cup of coffee and hiding in the bathroom. I need just a few minutes of peace before I plaster on my happy smile and convince the masses they must buy what I am selling because mine is better than Company X's never mind I am 25% more expensive.
8:55 am - I can see my office in the near distance and my pulse begins to slow. My eyes begin to stop their twitch and my muscles begin to loosen. In a moment of tranquility I blink just a little longer as all that morning stress leaves my body. CRASH! My eyes fly open, and I realize I have just struck a police car in the rear. As I watch the irritated officer approach my car I reach for my cell phone.
"Hello Mike, its me. Looks like I am running a bit behind this morning....AGAIN."