I'm beginning to understand the mommy-track. Why women in compelling careers leave the workforce when they have kids. I'm starting to get it. Not that I'd choose it, but sometimes it feels like life is set up to work against us working moms. The daily activities of work and home come at you like water from a fire hose at times, pushing you along with little will of your own. My schedule has become so packed, I almost feel the need to schedule a bathroom break for fear it will be booked over and I'll be forced to resort to adult diapers. Ok, that's probably an exaggeration, but not by much.
The hardest part of my day, by far, is the morning routine. Getting out of bed in itself is a monumental task when the room is too cold and the bed is soft and warm. It's like the duvet sprouts arms and embraces me softly, holding me back from the unpleasant dash across my unheated bedroom. If I manage to do that, drag myself free of my goose down nest, I am part way there. I can put the next set of actions in motion. Coffee, bathroom, mentally run down the to do list. I check my calendar for the day, usually finding a meeting at 7:00 am, occasionally 6:30 am. Far too early for my still sleepy brain, but I push on. If I can get these done before the family awakens I'm better able to hold up my end of the conversation, but then I'm in a time deficit to get the boys fed, dressed and out the door. It's always a balance. Getting up earlier might solve one problem, but I just can't seem to make that happen, and it would only ease the parts of the morning that aren't dependent on the schedules of others that seem to double and triple book my morning.
I pack a lunch for Big Dog, who now requests a warm meal instead of sandwiches. I understand because the weather is colder and something warm in his belly must help fight the chill of a Seattle playground, but inwardly sigh. Warm meals require morning preparations, the heating of the thermos, preparation of the food and packing of lunch now cut into my precious morning hours. If I'm on my game I can let the chickens out, let the dogs in the yard for the morning pee and dash back into the house for a shower while the men of the house are waking, but not awake enough to ask to go out with me. If that happens I have a choice, accept a tag a long who will make the process more time consuming with the putting on of shoes and coats, the extra dawdling at the chicken coop and the reluctance to go back inside, or decline the company which frequently results in an emotional outburst of some description. The chickens are popular and one on one time with mommy, even to perform simple chores seems to be highly prized. Either way, I lose momentum. Very occasionally I can rebuff their efforts to come along and get nothing more than a slight shrug. I have no insight into what tips the scale in either direction.
Most mornings the boys arise on their own, Big Dog being one of those "morning people" is all sunshine and brightness as he greets me with a giant grin and a happy "Good Morning!" Little Dog is more like me, often requiring extensive coaxing to drag him from his bed. Mr. Dog, being the genius parent he is has found it more effective to wake our younger son by playing a youtube video of "Monster Mash." So far it has been ideal. He wakes happy and quickly gets up to watch the clip. Unfortunately, this can lead to demands for repeat performances that can interfere with our morning progress.
If we get the boys to the table to eat, we then move rapidly along to dressing. This is my least favorite part of the day. The boys resist it and it can take what feels like hours before we get the clothed and shod. From then I load up, in my best pack animal impersonation to take the assorted coats, backpacks, lunch boxes, and laptop bag to the car. I ask the boys to be "atomic bunnies" and rush to the car. No idea why, but this approach works better than all of the polite pleases and begging have worked in the past.
From there, if I have no 8 am meeting, we drive to Little Dog's school and talk about our day ahead. If I do have an 8 am, I pop my headset on in the driveway and dial in before we start moving. I beg the boys to be quiet when I say my name for the teleconference but usually end up with something like "Laura-wahhhhhhhhh" as they chose that exact moment to pick a fight. For some reason, they can never hold their punches until I've muted my phone. Once we arrive, I stow his belongings in his cubby and sign him in. Big Dog uses the electronic keypad to enter our drop off code. At this point, things can go either way. If he's in a good mood, drop off is quick. Little Dog integrates rapidly into his gang of friends, I kiss him goodbye and exit to the parking lot. If he's not, there are tears and pleading. I have to enlist the help of a teacher to disentangle him from me before I can give him the recommended "short and upbeat" goodbye and head out the door. Those mornings are the hardest on me. Sometimes the guilt is overwhelming.
From drop off at Little Dog's school, we hop back in the car and drive to Big Dog's school hoping to get there in the narrow window of time that allows us to be on time, but won't require me to stay on the playground too long in the cold before the bell. At the bell, I get a quick kiss and my rule-obsessed kindergartner rushes off to line up. I dial into my next meeting, cupping the phone in my hands as I say my name for the teleconference hoping to block out the wind and schoolyard sounds as much as possible.
At one time my mornings were not so hectic. Working internationally has changed that, as has the rigid structure of public school. I can't just run late if I oversleep anymore. I have to be on schedule, and that is something I am just not so good at.
I keep thinking that if I slathered it with butter, and somehow managed to involve a shoe horn, I just might be able to slip one hour of activity into a fifteen minute time slot to ease the pace a bit. I'm still working that one out.
Pasta ala Fridge
5 years ago