One mother’s day as she is watching the clock and longing for a moment to herself.
Longing for a minute of solitude. A time span, even if short, that I am not needed.
Brain is desperately asking to be switched off. Frazzled as it is, I’ve managed to get dinner on the table with only the potatoes missing, bread will do tonight.
The day begins, abruptly awakening to find out we’re already 15 minutes behind schedule. I’ve slept for close to eight hours, but this hasn’t registered with my body yet. I am exhausted. This must be ignored. Our school girl refuses to wake. Carrying her up stairs, I soak in the cuddles, choosing not to think of the looming task ahead. Getting her ready for school in 45 minutes, when we need a full 60.
Crisis mode is initiated when cereal is placed in front of a sleeping child, curled up on the floor. Usually tickles and playful spankings wake her up with a smile on her face, today, she is angry. What I wouldn’t do to curl up beside her and ignore the day. 5 hours and 32 minutes until nap time.
Carpool arrives and I have to look past the child who hasn’t finished her breakfast and who’s teeth have only received a spit polish, knowing she will survive and we will do better tomorrow.
Child two is waiting.
Funny how taking one child out of the house, feels more like two or three are missing. It is quiet and my to-do list is long. There are two hours to put the house back in order after the morning’s chaos. We squeeze in snacks, cuddle time and even a shower, before we pick up the oldest.
I detest my role in her school experience. Pick up and drop off. In the mornings the trek to the classroom begins in a small space, for a few hundred children to take off their boots and climb the stairs before separating down various hallways. The age of awareness has not stumbled upon these children yet and they clumsily, rarely in a straight line, race up the stairs, never taking in the other children around them, especially when the other children are smaller. My four year old is fairly sturdy on her feet, but my two year old is easily knocked over.
Afternoons are similar, only in reverse. My two year old and I enter the school together and take off our boots. Usually after three or four direct orders, he finally gives in and puts his boots neatly on the shelves provided and happily clambers up the stairs. This week there are dioramas that line the hallway. Lots of hard work has gone into creating various ecosystems out of lego, clay, sand, toys and paper. This is fascinating to a toddler. We stop and take in as many as my patience and his demands will allow, before heading around the corner and getting trapped by the lure of the turtle tank and eventually the library.
If I can get him to go down the back stairs, I can often get him to eat what’s left of his sister’s morning snack while I organize her stuff with hope for a speedy exit. If he’s raced ahead, he’ll barrel into her classroom announcing our arrival and I’ll have to gather hats and mitts while both children wrestle on the ground or run up and down the hallway. I’m racing a ticking clock. If we don’t get out of there in good time, then the lunch time recess bell will ring and we’ll be swarmed with kids heading outside threatening to knock my children down the stairs, blocking the shelves where our boots are waiting, asking me to help them put on the mitts they haven’t put on before heading outside and closing doors in our faces. 1 hour, 35 minutes until nap time.
Ravenous from school time activity, our bits and pieces plated lunch often comes in courses. Nuts, bread, cheese, pickles, fruit and veggies… followed by another helping of fruit and then another, until finally, the nap is only seconds away and mommy leads the kids downstairs to read stories. I can already taste the warm tea and treat I will make for myself once they’re settled. I already know what video I will watch and I can feel the couch cradling my backside and the sound of quiet. My escape and reward for getting through the morning successfully and my comfort when I haven’t.
But today, today I am thwarted. Today the pause button is put into use five too many times, today the children need water, need books, need a hug and a kiss, today they need me, and today I am empty. I wanted to escape, but my life isn’t ready to let me go. There is no recharge there is only a newly potty trained toddler who needs to pee, who sticks out a wet sock while perched on the grown-up toilet and asks me to peel it off for him and as I do I wonder, how did his sock get wet? Looking down I notice that my pants also have wet marks on them? And then, after replaying his climb on to the toilet and my race to get him there, I realize that he must have had his feet in the bowl at some point. I choose to laugh. Sitting on the bathroom floor, waves of beautiful belly laughs bubble over. Shaking my head, silently praying that the last thirty minutes of nap time be uneventful I stand to clean us both up. After washing his feet and both of our hands thoroughly in the sink, changing my pants for pj bottoms, because, why bother with real pants today, I head upstairs to get in a few emails before I wake up my children, who have yet to fall asleep. Five hours until bedtime.
Today I don’t have to shake my daughter awake, nor do I have to carry my son upstairs, because today they didn’t nap. Snacks are issued, meat is thawing for dinner and I begin, again, to attempt bringing calm to the chaos of our home. I set the kids up with a simple craft, stringing beads together to make necklaces and bracelets, on a day with no sleep, this keeps them from running circles around the living room and kitchen. This works for half an hour.
Right about the time I start cooking dinner, they begin their race. Now in-between, mixing and seasoning, am I imparting life lessons to both myself and my children. Why don’t we run in the house? Why do we use our walking feet? What to say to your brother when he won’t share? What to say to your sister when she’s hurt you? And how to console myself for yelling when I should have been patient.
Somehow the time has passed, my husband is home and I’m still racing to make dinner. The house barely looks like I’ve cleaned up anything, the kids are down to their underwear, I’m, thankfully, still in my PJ bottoms, with hair that has been victimized by the windstorm this day brought with it.
Reminding the children once more that we use our walking feet in the house and ask out loud “Why did Santa bring you toys if you’re not going to play with them?!” while my husband tries to catch some of tonight’s hockey game. 1 hour, 48 minutes until bedtime.
My brain is pulled in many directions. Thoughts started don’t have a chance to finish. While dinner was mapped out, the follow through was not at it’s best. Bread instead of potatoes, we will survive.
Little bums wiggle while eating. Excited to share stories and dance around the dinner table, even for food they won’t sit still. Many reminders, a few stern words and even some begging bring them back into their chairs to eat. I can smell bedtime.
Clean up, bath, mopping up the spilled bath water, teeth brushed, bodies moisturized, stories read, quiet time and finally, its here…. Lights out!
I am wary. They should be exhausted, not just because I am, but because their little bodies haven’t stopped all day…. I am hesitant to properly settle into the couch. Do I make my tea now? Do I fish out those treats? Do I snuggle under the blanket?
“Mommy, can you come down for a minute?” The smallest calls. “I want a hug and a kiss.” How can I resist, he really does give the best hugs and kisses. I push aside the thirty hot wheel cars he insists on sleeping with and I soak up the soft brushing of his lips and the strength of his two year old embrace. I brush back his baby fine blond hair and press my forehead to his, “If you call me down here one more time…. Mommy will take your toys away.”
Upstairs my body falls heavily into the couch, my head planted on the cushions behind it. Remote in hand, I switch to my latest addiction and keep an ear open, just in case, but all I hear is silence.