The kids slept well and late, relatively speaking, but it is so hard to open my eyes. I dreamed wildly last night and am sleepy. My husband, T, is in even worse shape, and his snores quickly resume. I force myself up and see that Jack (7.5 yo) is already dressed; “Sweetie, remember you were going to shower this morning?” (He and T were out late at the Caps game so he skipped bath last night.)
“Oh yeah, OK Mom. I already made my bed and ate breakfast though!”
I burst with pride over this independent behavior, so out of his norm really. After he showers, I applaud his jobs well done and offer a carrot: “if you can do this sort of wonderful, efficient preparation through Thursday, I’ll treat you to a new book.” He enthusiastically agrees, and then drops the question I know he’s been dying to ask: “Can I use the computer?”
“Just for a bit, honey.”
One eye confidently open, I make my way downstairs to fix Oliver (4 yo) some breakfast, check on the pets, and make some coffee. On the stove I see last night’s dinner, now spoiled because dear scattered soul that is my husband didn’t put it away -the ONE thing I didn’t do- before heading to bed. What a waste AND no leftovers. Add talking to husband about basic tasks to my to-do list. Oh, shit, I also forgot to make cookies or at least write a card to a neighbor who recently lost her beloved dog. You’ve never seen a dog more adored and cherished, and I know her loss must feel like such a gaping hole. Another to-do.
Oliver is chowing, I make coffee, the cat eats yet another iPhone charger cord (shit he has expensive taste, and just how does he get to all these?), and it becomes clear that T is not moving quickly enough to take Ol to school. I hurry to get dressed – possible because I don’t have to get dressed, dressed, you know, for work (get the sarcasm here folks) – make some toast which I’ll scarf down in the car, and run Ol to school.
On the way, he spots 5 Mercedes to add to his and Jack’s “collection.” They count them and are up to almost 2,000, in just about two months. I’m getting a bit tired of hearing ever step of this count but try to support these good math and observation skills. Fortunately, we’ve ceased having the discussion -each and every time- about whether the cars in the dealership lot (on the way to school) count; they don’t. The boys decided that “Daddy is counting BMWs” so add a few to his list. Ol invokes “Merce power” and vrooms in the backseat. Where do they get this stuff?!
When we arrive, he asks me to walk him in: “please, Mom?” I pause for a moment – this will take ten minutes or so, and I still have to get home and get J to the dentist- but I also know that Ol won’t always want me to walk him in, won’t always hold my hand while doing so. So, I find a spot, and in we go. His rosy cheeks are the cat’s meow, his little paw in mine the best feeling. Once in his classroom, I have to ask for a hug; he gives me one and a quick peck and then runs back to his pals. A good mix of dependent-independent I think as I scoot out, trying to talk to everyone from a bit of a distance because, per the usual, I’ve not yet brushed my teeth.
Did I remember to take my thyroid medicine or did I only remind myself to do so? Supposed to be taken on an empty stomach…too late. Where is my wedding ring? Shit, I hope it’s on the brass swan whose neck keeps my token of betrothal safe. I’m never 100% sure.
My head has begun to pound, and I can feel my body amping up; it knows that although it’s not yet 8:30am, there are literally miles to go, and the equivalent to hear, before I sleep. Back home. Jack has resumed computering, T is on couch. Jesus he’s having a slow start to the day. I try to be understanding, but these kinds of days frustrate me. A lot. “J, off the computer! I need to return a few emails (way overdue) before we leave for the dentist.”
I open one and hit reply. “Hi, So and So…I know, J, I’m sorry the Caps lost too.” WHAT? That makes no sense. A reminder to Jack to please just give me a few minutes of quiet because otherwise I type what he says. However, his mental engine is rolling, all pistons a’fire, and it’s hard for him to stop. I understand that, but I wish, I wish.
I finish two emails and then excuse myself to the bathroom. Sweet boy questions me through the door about crafting a wizard potion called Oasis Punch or something. “It would be a great refreshment at my birthday party, wouldn’t it Mom?” His birthday is in July.
Halfway to the dentist, the aggregate of his and Ol’s talking, questioning, their needs for reminders, assistance and information, reaches a breaking point. I feel like a spent target, the subject of a kindly yet over-eager assault rifle loaded with an enormous clip. “Please, please, can we have a moment of silence, for 2-3 street lights?” I employ familiar language; moments of silence are, mercifully, integral parts of his school days. I beg this a means of protection because at this point, I am wildly overstimulated. My mind trembles, the input feels too weighty to hold up much longer. I grip the steering wheel because sometimes when I get too fried, when the intensity is unremitting for too long, I get a little dizzy. It’s such a discomfiting feeling, not least because my darling boy is relying on me to keep him safe.
It’s not panic. No, I know that too. This is just the truest experience of overwhelm. When we check in at the dentist, the hygienist says that usually parents wait in the waiting room: “Is that OK?”
Are you kidding I want to cheer?? What a reprieve! Magazines always urge harried moms to take and restore in the moments when they arise: “breathe deeply at red lights; take a nice bath when you can; enjoy the pleasure of taking the garbage out by yourself.” Usually I want to barf on these suggestions which reek of a complete lack of understanding of what a lot of moms really need. But thirty minutes in a waiting room? I have hit the jackpot. Until my winnings go into sealants and now-scheduled treatments for the extra cavities the doc found. But hey, for the most part if you’ve got young kids at home, you’ve got to pay for free time anyway, so at least there’s some preventive care rolled into today’s outflow. They ask me to jump back in and manage every one of J’s brush/floss/fluoride session. “Of course!” I reply with sincerity but also dismay. Another to-do.
I feel lucky that I can schedule the next appointment for next week when J’s school is on holiday. Whew! I hate for the boys to miss school! J looks chastened and blue; I try to help him see that while he certainly(!) needs to be doing a much better job cleaning his teeth, at least all of these cavities are in his baby teeth, so really, this is an opportunity to improve a lifelong behavior now, before the permanent ivories are damaged. “We’ll work on it together, OK honey?” “Ok, Mom. I’m hungry.”
We head to school and I feel badly that I can’t alleviate his hunger, but the wildly expensive sealants will be at risk if he eats or drinks anything before the appointed time. So, no dice on the snack. He asks me to walk him down to his classroom, but I put my foot down -hell, I still need to brush my teeth- because now it’s almost noon. And pick-up isn’t too far off. That to-do list doesn’t shrink if I ignore it, I’ve not worked on my writing in weeks, veggies are losing their luster in my fridge, and gosh, I just want to read a bit of the paper.
“Honey, I love you. Go on in, I’m going to watch you walk through both sets of doors.” He blows me a kiss and goes through the first door; he turns back to me, still walking, and I just know he’s going to run into that bench. I will him to veer to the left a bit. My darling J has walked into so many things in his life: gates, poles, benches, other people, signs… Finally his red Caps hat, a treat from Daddy last night at the game, recedes from my view. I am filled with love and adoration of my smart, handsome, sweet second grader. I am also overcome with relief that for a few hours, I think, I should be able to recenter and rest.
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