I grabbed the two slices of multigrain bread from the toaster and plopped them onto a plate.
“No cheese, please.” Grace was leaning across the kitchen counter. “Just salami and mayonnaise.”
“Right.” I pulled a new jar of mayo from the cupboard. Next, I tried to peel back the safety seal, but by golly, the quality control folks at Hellmann’s made sure that piece of plastic was sealed.
I got a knife and jabbed at the plastic. Piff; it broke. I stuck my finger down to pull the seal back. In my morning rush to do so, I embedded most of my finger in the mayo. Ugh.
“Yuck, Mom.” Anna, with some helpful commentary.
“Yep.” I hastened to make Grace’s salami-and-cheese sandwich. I glanced at the clock on the microwave: 8:50. “Ah, Grace, you have to go; here.” I stuffed the sandwich in my older daughter’s lunch box, along with some other items I have now forgotten. (One of them, however, was probably a granola bar.)
Grace stuffed the lunch box into her backpack, and that’s when I noticed her bare feet. “Grace, what the heck—you need socks!”
Grace’s eyes bugged out. “Whoops.”
I groaned. “Why does this always happen?” Why can’t our mornings go more smoothly?
Grace raced to locate socks.
Anna stuck up a foot. “Look, Mom.”
It was now 8:53 a.m.—one minute before the bus would arrive down the block. And now Grace was wearing socks. But…
“Mom, where’s my homework board?”
Now my eyes bugged out. “Grace…I don’t know!”
“I don’t know either!”
“…is Grace late?”
This was six minutes last Friday, friends.
Eventually, Grace ran out of the house with her socks, homework board, everything she needed for the school day. By the time I ran out, though, to make sure she safely boarded the bus (say, 30 seconds later), nobody and nothing was outside: no Grace, no bus.
Rationally, I knew that Grace had probably seen the bus approaching our block, at which point she ran to catch it, and she was safely en route to school. A tiny part of me, though—the part that watches every true-crime Netflix documentary—was concerned.
That part of me called Grace’s school and asked the very kind receptionist to please call me back once they confirmed my daughter had arrived. Moments later, my phone rang. “Yes, she’s here,” I was told.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, I’m so sorry,” I said.
“It’s OK, you can call us anytime,” this wonderful woman said.
I closed my eyes. Exhaled.
I snapped my eyes open.
“Come on.” Anna gave me a tug. “Or I’ll miss the hello song.”
A tiny part of me, though—the part that watches every true-crime Netflix documentary—was concerned.
Last week, overall, was a little crazy. Both my daughters needed me in different, unexpected ways, which required a couple of sleepless nights and one 7:15 a.m., pajama-clad dash to CVS (that was Thursday). Stanton was traveling for work, so I was flying solo…which is always manageable, until it isn’t.
On Friday morning, after I dropped off Anna, I called my best friend. Kate and I have known each other since we were little kids; we go back more than 30 years. Thus, I felt comfortable telling her, in mini-meltdown mode, “I feel like a failure as a mom! We just had a terrible morning…again! Aaahhh!”
(I’m fairly confident these are my direct quotes.)
Kate replied calmly and compassionately, as any best friend would. Ultimately, she said everything was OK. Still…I was determined that the following week, our family would start having a smoother start to the day.
Later that day, I shared my game plan with the girls. “Starting Monday, we’re not going to rush so much. We’re going to be more organized getting ready for school.”
“We don’t have school Monday.” She tapped the calendar. “Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Roger that. “Starting Tuesday, then.”
…we go back more than 30 years.
Tuesday morning was super smooth. I made the girls’ lunches minutes after I woke up. Confirmed they had everything they needed in their backpacks. Took such a fast shower, I don’t think I even qualified as clean afterwards. Postponed breakfast (but not coffee, obviously).
At 8:50, I strolled outside with Grace. “We’re early!” I crowed. Two of our neighbors were taking a walk, and I waved. “We’re trying not to rush in the morning, and this is our first morning of doing that. So far, so good!”
Next to me, Grace groaned. “Mom.”
And as you might expect, our neighbors smiled, waved back and kept walking.
Yes, Tuesday morning went beautifully.
According to Google, it takes more than two months for something to become a habit, or routine. Our family probably still has a ways to go before our morning routine runs more smoothly.
In a moment of clarity this week, I realized there are some things I can do a better job with, for sure…and there also are some things all of us can work on: Stanton, Grace and Anna too. “You do live here too,” I may or may not have said to one or all of these people. Everyone can take some responsibility for starting the day smoothly.
Packing school lunches, though…it can be tough. Grace will eat sandwiches, but most prefers leftovers. Last night’s pasta and meatballs, for example, or chicken tikka masala and rice (for whatever reason, Grace loves chicken tikka masala).
Anna, meanwhile, constantly requests at least one “unhealthy thing” in her lunch box.
“Mom!” Anna opened the bathroom door yesterday morning, as I was showering.
“Honey.” What can I possibly do for you right now?
“Mom, I peeked into my lunch box…”
I rinsed conditioner from my hair. “I asked you not to do that…”
“I know, but I took one little peek…and Mom!” I could picture Anna frowning. “Everything you packed for me is healthy, Mom!”
“Other kids get Pirate’s Booty, and Gushers, and…” The list went on.
Shhhh. I turned off the water. “You’re going to be fine.”
A sigh. The door closed. Quiet.
I grabbed a towel. Checked the time. Not late, yet.
Yes, you’re going to be fine.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short story, “Backtrack.” An engaging read that’s can’t-put-it-down good.