So the television show 24 is back for another season. Millions of people are anxiously awaiting the next narrow escape or bad ass move by Jack Bauer. My life certainly doesn't contain moments of national security or bomb disarming, but it’s absolutely as action-packed at times.
Here’s how an episode of 24 with a working mama, much like myself, as the lead character might look…
5 am. I wake up with a hand in my face and an arm slightly obscuring my air way. When did he come into my bed? I spend the next hour turning the volume down on my alarm so as not to wake the preschooler next to me, then worrying I won’t hear the alarm, checking my phone a half dozen times, then dozing off two minutes before my husband’s alarm goes off, at full volume. The child remains fast asleep, and I realize all the worrying about waking him was for nothing.
6 am. I get in the shower. Immediately, a seven year old comes in to pee, then flushes the toilet, turning my comfortable shower into a method of prisoner torture most likely used at Guantanamo Bay. I quickly get myself ready so I can also pack two backpacks, pick out clothes for two boys and myself, and find something to take for lunch. In between these tasks, I am running downstairs naked no less than three times to look for clean underwear, let the dog out before she pees on the kitchen floor, and then let the dog back in before she wakes the whole neighborhood barking at another dog.
7 am. The toilet-flushing child is up, but his argument over wearing a sweatshirt would rival many a courtroom closing. With a final gavel bang, I rest my case and he pouts as he accepts his weather-appropriate sentencing. I wake the middle-of-the-night-bed-sneaking child up, to whines about wanting a few more minutes of sleep and not wanting to go to school. Then comes settling a dispute over granola bars, switching shoes that are on the wrong feet, and finding the permission slip that’s due today in a stack of papers. Finally, out the door with the dog escaping only once. Better than average.
8 am. I arrive at work only to realize my shirt has pink Gogurt on it, precisely over my right breast. I go back out to my car and grab the blouse I had planned to return. Despite not liking the big-in-some-places and small-in-other-places fit of it, it's mine for keeps now. It only slightly clashes with my pants, so I decide to just go with it and sit at my desk as much as possible.
9 am. I have a conversation with a coworker, who sighs deeply at my inability to stay late for a meeting today because I need to pick my kids up. Shockingly, she has no children. Her suggestion is to schedule it first thing the next morning. Fabulous. The morning usually goes so well, I’m sure dropping my kids off early will be a piece of cake.
10 am. I stare at the clock knowing my son is on a field trip and I’m, clearly, not there. A friend texts me a picture from the field trip where I see four boys wrestling in the background and I feel slightly less upset about missing it.
11 am. I realize I am starving because I never ate lunch. Then debate if I eat my lunch ridiculously early and be starving by three, or starve now and wait for a more normal lunchtime.
12 noon. My debate is unnecessary, as the school secretary calls to tell me my son forgot his lunch today. I drive home, search the house to no avail, make a new lunch, rush to the school, only to be told he found it in his backpack. Seriously, did no one check there before calling? Having spent over 30 minutes on this debacle, I go through the drive through and eat Taco Bell in my car on my way back to work. At least I got a Crunchwrap out of the deal.
1 pm. I try to keep my eyes open through my exhaustion. Waking up for the day at 5 am and eating fast food for lunch does not lend itself to a productive work flow.
2 pm. I finally get back into the groove of getting work done when I get a call from the other school. The younger kid is complaining of a sore throat. I tell them the day is almost done and if he doesn't have a fever he can tough it out. Then I hang up and feel like a horrible mom for the second time that day.
3 pm. I stuff my jacket in my purse and ask my coworker to turn my light off in a half hour so I can sneak out to pick up the sore throat kid early. I use my stealth moves to leave the building unnoticed by any coworkers or my boss. I arrive at school only to find my child is perfectly fine and had just wanted to avoid nap time.
4 pm. I pull into the pick line to wait for school dismissal. Just as I finally get my Nook out and my book opened up, one paragraph read, the line starts moving and someone honks at me because I didn't pull the 12 inches forward the second I was able. I debate flipping them off and realize that would probably be inappropriate, so I just do it in my head. After the kids pile in, we get back home only to have three kids asking me approximately 8000 questions, most of which are wanting me to do something, before I have even been able to take my shoes off. I escape to the bathroom and tell them to leave me alone while I pee.
5 pm. I start getting dinner ready. As kids wander through the kitchen I hear a constant stream of, “I don’t like that. Can we have McDonald’s for dinner? Whhhhhhyyyyyyyy?” I am pulled out of the kitchen to settle a dispute over turn taking in the back yard, to deal with a scraped knee, to clean up a toy the dog chewed up when no one was paying attention to her, and to tell kids approximately 12 times that we are going to eat dinner soon and there are no more snacks.
6 pm. We finally sit down to eat dinner. There is a minor debate over whose turn it is to say the blessing. I say no less than five times to please not spill your milk. The younger one reaches across the table to pick food off the older one’s plate, and the milk is spilled in the process. The older one mentions if we had gotten McDonald's their milks would have tops on them. I remind myself that while selling my kids on the black market would be lucrative, I am far too pretty to go to jail and would not fair well in the penitentiary system.
7 pm. I try to call a friend back, but the second I get on the phone I have kids yelling in the next room, then asking me questions about dessert, then a dog barking, then kids yelling again. I give up and get off the phone. The next half hour is silent and the kids are nowhere in sight as I sit and fold laundry.
8 pm. The bedtime routine begins, first with complaints about going to bed. Cause, ya know, we don’t do this every. single. night. There are warnings about keeping the bath water in the tub, followed by a wave of water over the edge of the tub, and me yelling bath time is over as I sop up the entire bathroom floor. I fall asleep in the middle of reading Mater’s Tall Tales for the 127 millionth time. The kids nudge me awake, I finish quicker by reading every other line and acting like it does too make sense, and we head off to bed.
9 pm. For the next hour, I hear requests for water, feet plodding to the bathroom because someone forgot to go potty, a request for another kiss, fart noises being made and hysterical laughs, a complaint about the cat being in someone’s bed, then a complaint about the dog being in someone else’s bed.
10 pm. The kids are finally asleep. I debate getting everything ready for the next day, but realize there is no way I feel like packing backpacks and picking out clothes right now. I find my Nook to read a little bit of my book.
11 pm. I fall asleep on the couch three pages into my book. I sleep on the couch for the next hour.
12 midnight. I wake up and head upstairs to brush my teeth and take my contacts out. Then I lay awake in bed, unable to fall asleep because I just slept for an hour on the couch. I proceed to worry about ALL.THE.THINGS.
1 am. I finally fall asleep, and then 20 minutes later the older one gets up to pee. He, of course, cannot just go back to bed, he has to come into our room. The hubby gets up and takes him back to his bed.
2 am. The other kid gets up and comes in our room, crying because he had a bad dream. I pull him into bed with us and snuggle him until he falls back asleep. I drift back off to sleep.
3 am. I wake up when the hubby scoops the four year old up to take him back to his own bed, because he keeps tossing and turning.
4 am. I lay awake listening to the dog whine in her crate because she has heard all the footsteps upstairs and wants to be where we are. The cat realizes I am awake and proceeds to keep head butting my hand every time I stop petting him.
Then the alarm goes off, and I get to start the whole series all over again. I realize I may not be protecting the president, or saving the world from a nuclear attack, but my days are filled with action, adventure, romance, and plenty of comedy. I've got a pretty good role to play. And I wouldn't trade it for all the Hollywood story lines in the world.
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