Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Theatrics: A Day In The Life (School-Day Mornings)

Life for me is pretty hectic sometimes - between Patreon writing, blogging, sporadic work on my next book, parenting and coaching my kids, and taking care of my own needs ... well, some days even I'm not sure how I manage to do it all. Nonetheless, I'm just a mom doing her best to be everything she needs to be for everyone who needs her, without dropping anything - just like every other mom who's just trying to get through every day, raising her kids and living her life in the best way she knows how.


Welcome to a day in my life - but just the school-day morning routine. Because after that, you're probably gonna need a drink and a nap. (Note: I actually noted this particular morning last week, in preparation for the downtime I would need to spend with Eden post-surgery. It went well, BTW, and she's home - we're working on getting her into healing mode.)

Ready? Here goes.

5:45 AM: The first thought that really hits me is straight from the inner crybaby, who whines, "Uuughh, WHY does 5:45 have to be so EARLY? Why can't it be later?!?"

5:46 AM: This whiney thought is immediately followed by a mental response from my inner smartass, who grins sassily and says, "It is. There's PM."

5:50 AM: Stumble to the bathroom, on legs that are still too stiff yet for anything other than clumsy shuffling.

5:52 AM: Pee. Not because I have to yet, but because once the kids are up the opportunity will be lost. Then I'll have to pee, and I'll have to hold it for an hour or more before I get the chance to go again, and this will make me grouchy. Which makes me a much lower quality mom.

5:54 AM: Wash my hands, face, and teeth. Make faces at myself in the mirror - daily work at the self-confidence people seem to think is easy for me, but isn't. Raise and lower my eyebrows, inspect my face for lines. Despise my hooded eyelids; love my eyes. Smile. Smile bigger. Change my mind - don't smile. My smile looks like I stole it from a shy, coffee-addicted three year old, and loving it is still a work in progress. I'm alright though - my hair looks good today. Good enough to make the rest tolerable.

5:59 AM: Put pants on, grudgingly. Culture and single motherhood dictate that human interaction must be imminent - though I'm not quite ready, I'm willing.

6:00 AM: Wake the kids. Joey wakes up with the teen 'tude which is intermittently typical of her these days, already running through her clothing options for the day and annoyed not to have the infinite possibilities that would surely set her world to rights. Eden wakes up sassy and chatty as always - this child is ALIVE every single day, right from the get-go. Chatter is immediate and unstoppable (thanks ADHD) - and overwhelming for this mom who has only been awake a few minutes and hasn't had coffee yet, but can't manage to wake up earlier.

This is the moment that triggers the day's cycle of mental self-flagellation. I wouldn't be as grouchy if I could get up earlier. I could get up earlier if I didn't stay up so late. I wouldn't have to stay up so late if I didn't always have work to do. I wouldn't always have work to do if I ...

6:18 AM: Eden's still too busy talking to herself to have gotten dressed yet. We try to leave the house for school at 7:15 every morning, and every morning we fail. There's a running list in my head: medicine, folders, breakfast, hair. We still have lots to do. Irritation appears at the edge of my consciousness, and I stamp it down, grit my teeth, and say with false patience, "Eden, come on hon, we have to be focused on getting ready."

6:28 AM: We're finally downstairs, where Eden won't decide what she wants for breakfast, because the options today are not whatever she had hoped they would be.

6:34 AM: Time is ticking by. Joey's already eating breakfast (Cheerios) by the time Eden picks oatmeal. Strawberries and cream. The microwave drones in the kitchen, and Eden drones in the dining room - laying on the floor, whispering to herself about a cat toy.

6:38 AM: Oatmeal's done. I carry it to the table, stepping over Eden, who is literally laying in the doorway. Set the oatmeal down (I'm annoyed now because I'm overwhelmed with the noise, and asking - or demanding - for it to stop only seems to add to it. And I know she isn't doing it on purpose; she hasn't had her meds yet. I'm really wishing for coffee.) and tell Eden, "That's hot - you're gonna hafta blow it." Then I hide a smile when she immediately starts blowing the cat toy she's still jingling. Kids DO hear us. They may not be LISTENING, but they HEAR.

6:52 AM: Joey's finished with breakfast. Her shoes are on, everything she needs is done, and she's on the couch with her phone, already texting her friends to find out who's coming to school and what they're going to wear. She's beautiful - a mass of curls, the curious mix of insecurity and confidence that is the teenaged existence. Blue eyes gone sea-green, bold, slanted brows. She has ADHD too, but copes well enough to function normally most days and recently decided to try quitting one of her medications; she gives me hope for Eden, who isn't there yet and still hasn't started her breakfast.

She did finally make it to her seat though - where she's ignoring her bowl, kicking the leg of the table, and playing with the ice left in her now-empty water cup. Tap, tap, tap. Thump, thump, thump. I wish I could just stop making her breakfast at home (free breakfast is offered universally at her school). I just want to stop the daily battle. But there's no guarantee she'd eat at school either, and since she's got short stature and failure to thrive, the eating battle is more important for us perhaps than for other families. I am resigned, because I love her enough to keep trying, to keep fostering her effort and my patience. To be not just the mother who birthed her, but the mom who keeps showing up no matter how hard it is in the moment.

7:00 AM: I'm finally annoyed enough to make a show of whipping out the wooden spoon known as "Mr. Listen" in our family. The most I'll ever do with it is give them a firm tap on the fat of their bottoms, but the certain knowledge that physical correction is more than just a hollow threat has Eden suddenly more willing to practice the coping mechanisms I've tried so hard to instill in her. She stops kicking, procrastinating and chattering.

"Get to it," she whispers to herself. "We're on a schedule." Part of me smiles silently, hearing my words coming out her mouth. She may not LISTEN always - especially in the early mornings and late afternoons when she's living without the help of her daily medications - but she HEARS. And I know that despite the chaos of our mornings together, this simple hearing means that she hears other things too, like the way I love her and how important she is to me despite the fact that we're always running late. Still, buckles down and eats her breakfast. Finally, we're moving.

7:06 AM: Eden's finally finished with breakfast and has gone to the bathroom. There's a clip of Hillary Clinton on TV, talking about the election results and why she isn't the President. I won't talk about that here. It just isn't wise.

7:21 AM: My jaw hurts from gritting my teeth. But we're ready. We're in the car.

7:42 AM: The kids are delivered to their respective schools. Eden's out of the car. Joey's out of the car. Finally, I can take a minute to breathe before diving into the day's writing work.

 

In the midst of all this, with PTSD overwhelm and the flurry of my own everyday thoughts, I know where my frustration really comes from. Yes, I'm annoyed with the constant noise and chatter of ADHD. Yes, I'm annoyed by the teen 'tude and the sense of not being heard that is simply part of this job I call "Momming."

But beneath it all, I'm angry at the partner who chose not to be there, the teammate who failed miserably to show up to the game so many times that it simply became easier for me to play alone. I'm resentful of the yin-yang/male-female balance that he left them without - and I hate ADHD for making my kid so helplessly unable to manage getting dressed and eating breakfast without taking FOREVER, every day. I hate the PTSD that leaves me routine-rigid, stressed, and struggling to deal with these relatively small moments.

And still I'm proud of myself. Because I made it through the morning - with my mouth shut and my frustration mostly in check. My children know they are loved, that they are safe, and that they will always have someone steady to count on. I've done my job, and I've done it well.

And even though I'm frazzled and REALLY needing that coffee by now, we only ended up being like 5 minutes late leaving the house - so today I'm going to drink my coffee in peace and count this morning as a win.


6 comments:

  1. I'm so proud of the Mom you are. My Mom didn't have the courage (and still doesn't) to leave the man she should have years ago. I love my Mom to death but she would have been a much better mother even single than she ever would be with my Dad. It took courage to get out and become a single Mother. Happy Mother's day to an amazing woman I'm proud to call my friend even though we've never met in person. You are raising wonderful girls who are going to grow up to be amazing women and it all due to your inner strength.

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    1. Well I'm not sure I'm really "out" just yet - I'm still working to disentangle, and there are aspects of non-single life that I miss from time to time. But I am much happier as a single mother, and I'm glad I'm learning to heal so that the girls and I can move forward.

      Your support means the world. Thank you.

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  2. PS I hope you take Sunday off from your blogs to just enjoy the day you deserve it

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    1. Assuming you meant Mother's Day - I did. The Mother's Day post that went up here was written the day before, so that I could devote that day to just being a mom.

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  3. Wow! You really are an amazing mom despite the hardship!! You do so well, coping, nurturing, loving, etc. I could have only wished to be the mom you are. Your mornings are rough. I don't think I would do so well...lol. The girls are awesome because you are awesome! Keep that in mind! <3 Happy early Mother's Day.

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