I Actually Think We’re Going to Make It

Some days are super busy. Others are legitimately crazy.

And then there’s Monday.

This school year, Grace has her piano lesson on Monday afternoon, after school. Coincidentally, Anna’s soccer practice for the fall season starts 30 minutes after her older sister’s piano lesson ends, on Monday evening. This doubleheader of after-school activities is for eight weeks only, so…manageable, I thought.

Monday No. 1 of this eight-week schedule rolled around. I cooked a semi-homemade dinner of macaroni and cheese. Spooned equal portions into two food storage containers. Packed the girls’ to-go dinners into my brand-new, extra-large, heavy-duty cotton-canvas tote bag (“You can really hurt people with that thing,” Stanton recently observed, after my bag inadvertently knocked off-balance a little boy at Grace’s back-to-school open house). I stuffed some chocolate-chip granola bars in there too, for good measure, along with Grace’s piano books and Anna’s soccer gear.

I thought about pouring the rest of my freshly brewed coffee into a travel mug, but coffee’s a diuretic, and there would only be porta potties once we got to the soccer field. Not my favorite, friends. Not my favorite.

“Mom, they’re Big Tops,” Grace tried to assure me. “Those are, like, the nicest ones. They have real soap.”

As high-end as that sounded…still, no thank you.

…then there’s Monday.

The girls loaded into the car. I hoisted my bag into the trunk, along with folding chairs for the soccer field. Mounds of sand from our weeks-ago beach trip covered the floor of the cargo space, and someone’s pair of socks (probably worn and in need of laundering) were stuffed into a corner. Yuck.

“Girls, I think our car is a biohazard.”

Grace craned her neck around. “What’s a biohazard?”

Anna craned her neck too. “Did you remember my shin guards, Mom?”

Whatever. “Yes, I have the shin guards. Let’s roll.”

We arrived at Grace’s piano lesson a few minutes early. Early. That is such a rare and pleasant state of being in my life.

Another pleasant surprise was that the waiting room in the music studio had a new box of toys, perfect for any younger siblings who happened to have been dragged along. Anna dashed over. Immediately, she pulled out a neon-green tablet.

“Let’s learn the alphabet!” the tablet announced. “A! B! C…”

Wow, that little electronic was loud. And there were other people in the waiting room. I leaned over. “Anna,” I said. “Turn the volume down.”

“I love this, Mom!” D! E! F!

“Yay, I’m so glad. Please turn the volume down.”

At that moment, Grace’s piano teacher ducked his head into the waiting room. He apologized that his other lesson was running behind, so Grace’s would start 10 minutes late. “I’m so sorry,” he said. No worries, I told him.

But I gazed at the clock on the wall, to the right of the black-framed pictures of Beethoven, Mozart and other music legends. Now, leaving 10 minutes later, we would have 20 minutes to get to the soccer field, right in the middle of rush-hour traffic…but… G! H! I! “This should still be manageable,” I said aloud.

A nearby mom started chuckling.

I glanced over at her.

She made eye contact, and chuckled some more.

I smiled slightly. “Um…are you laughing at me?” I had to know.

This lady very kindly replied that she had been in my shoes, many times, with needing to get multiple kids to various places. And it could be tricky, even with loads of preparation and a positive attitude to boot.

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The other mom and I pleasantly passed the time commiserating while Grace went in for her piano lesson, and Anna continued learning the alphabet (on a lower volume). Nothing brings forth good conversation like a little commiseration.

Ten minutes later than planned, then, the girls and I headed over to the soccer field. Amazingly, we had green lights almost the whole way.

“You know,” I said, as we cruised through the intersection at Wemple Road and 9W, “I actually think we’re going to make it.”

Indeed, Anna arrived at soccer practice right on time. Not a minute to spare, but still, right on time.

“Making it” when you think you wouldn’t is a good feeling, across the board. From little things like kids’ soccer practices to higher-stakes circumstances like health diagnoses and job opportunities. Sometimes, making it is such a pleasant surprise that the experience—however low-stakes or fleeting it may be—restores our faith in life.

Nothing brings forth good conversation like a little commiseration.

I’m in a book club that I love. I’m so thankful a friend introduced me to the group, which led to new friendships and, of course, good reads.

As it happened, I offered to host our monthly book club meeting on Monday night. Yes, after Anna’s soccer practice. Stanton was out of town, the girls’ favorite babysitter had other commitments…so if I couldn’t go out and meet up with the book club, I’d bring the book club to me.

Manageable.

“I can’t wait to see Sandy,” Grace said, when we got back home. She and Anna adored the fun-loving lady in my book club. “I emailed her, but I don’t know if she got it.”

I let my enormous tote bag drop. “You don’t have an email address, Grace…do you?”

Grace laughed. “I email people on my tablet, Mom.”

Grace’s tablet had an Internet connection? What the heck. I unlocked the back door.

Funnily enough, Anna’s preschool also was hosting a parents night that day. I couldn’t be in two places at once, but…yeah, I probably could have tried harder to make parents night happen. Like any Millennial mom, I felt guilty about that.

Thus, when I saw Anna’s super-sweet preschool teacher the next morning, I attempted to compensate by volunteering to make homemade play dough for the following week. The recipe is magnet-ed to my fridge now. Luckily, I had almost all the ingredients on hand (one notable exception: cream of tartar). I’ve never made play dough, and I’m not an arts-and-crafts-y type of person, but I’m optimistic (as always) this will be a fun weekend activity for my preschooler and me.

Like any Millennial mom, I felt guilty about that.

The girls and I FaceTimed with Stanton before he got back home on Tuesday evening. They caught him up on all our adventures from the past 24 hours: school, piano, soccer, book club, play dough, the weird smell in the backyard.

“By the way, Dad,” Anna said, holding the phone up close, “where are you?”

I laughed. In fact, I belly-laughed, friends. Because there are times when I have to pause and ask myself that question too.

I really don’t like to overschedule our family calendar. Every now and then, though, everything happens all at once.

And every now and then, with a little dumb luck and mostly green lights the whole way, we actually make it. ❤

Photo credit: Pixabay

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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.

No Back-to-Preschool Pictures This Fall

The summer vacation status updates in my Facebook news feed are beginning to get replaced with back-to-preschool pictures. And just the other day, Little G asked when she was going back to school.

We were driving home from a preschool friend’s birthday party. Little G had so much fun playing with all of her school friends who were there, some of whom she hadn’t seen since the Pre-K3 class ended in May. My hubby and I looked at each other.

“Maybe we should just have her go,” Stanton said under his breath.

“What?” Little G from her car seat in the back. She doesn’t miss a beat.

Stanton and I smiled at each other. And then, feeling a twinge of uncertainty, I said, “No, let’s stick with our plan.”

“What’s our plan?”

So I filled in our 4-year-old daughter. “We’re taking a break from preschool. You know how you stayed home with Mommy and Anna all summer? And we had girl time … we played together and took you to dance class …”

“And went to the coffee shop?”

Stanton laughed. Yes, dance class and the coffee shop: an accurate summary of the past three months with Little G and her baby sister. I nodded.

“We’re going to do girl time for a little longer,” I said.

Next fall, Little G will start either kindergarten or (because of her late-summer birthday) attend a final year of preschool. I hope to be writing and working more by that time, too. The sentimental side of me views this time until then as a special season for my two girls to simply be together and enjoy together, before recommitting to a busier family schedule.

“Play, dance class, and the coffee shop—OK,” Little G said.

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For two years, Little G’s preschool experience was wonderful—socially, educationally, and spiritually. And it was meaningful for me, too. Most importantly, her preschool provided quality child care for when I was working and, later, attending lots of prenatal appointments while awaiting Baby G’s arrival. And perhaps just as importantly, her school offered us a warm, loving community in which to connect with other families in similar stages of life.

I’ll miss seeing all our preschool friends on a regular basis—at drop-off, pick-up, and school events—as Little G will. At the same time, it’s fun to keep in touch and make the time to get together, just as we do with the other good friends in our life from our neighborhood, church, and library story time.

Ultimately, I think my girls will treasure this “year off” together. Of course, I could always be wrong. As Pam Brown once said, “Sisters never quite forgive each other for what happened when they were five”—or in the case of my daughters, 4 years old and 6 months. 🙂

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Four Hours, One Weekday Morning

Mornings with young children can be hectic, especially if everyone has somewhere to go. This past Friday morning was one such scramble …

5:45 a.m.: “Mom!” I can’t believe Little G has woken up this early—she didn’t nap yesterday, and I thought (optimistic as always) that she’d sleep until at least 6:30. I try to snuggle her back to sleep. No such luck because, “My belly’s hungry, Mom.”

5:50 a.m.: Downstairs, in the kitchen. “Island Vanilla or Rice Krispies?” I ask Little G. “My belly’s hungry for Hershey’s kisses,” she informs me. I shake my head; we settle on Island Vanilla.

5:52 a.m.: My nine-months-pregnant belly is hungry, too. I also have some cereal. Then Little G and I snuggle on the living room couch; I can tell she’s still sleepy.

6:15 a.m.: My hubby joins us, showered. “Daddy! Let’s play.” He makes coffee and then pulls out Little G’s Little People while I shower and get dressed.

6:50 a.m.: Back downstairs (all these stairs!), I tell Little G it’s a special day at preschool: Pajama Day. “Yay!” Little G is excited to wear pajamas to preschool. We hug and kiss my hubby good-bye.

6:55 a.m.: Problem: The last pair of clean pajamas is, in fact, not clean. There’s a bit of food stuck on the top. How did I not notice this before? I try to get it off with a wipe, but the food-stuck-ness appears permanent. “Why didn’t you do my laundry, Mom?” I need some coffee.

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6:59 a.m.: I help Little G into the (clean) pajama bottoms and a clean shirt that, while not the matching pajama top, still matches. “Mom!” A tear rolls down Little G’s cheek. “This is a play shirt! I need a pajama shirt! It’s Pajama Day!”

7 a.m.: I lug myself and my big belly back upstairs (all these stairs!!!) to Little G’s bedroom. There’s a saying, “Life is my cardio.” This is true for me. I find a gray “play shirt” that Little G has never worn before, with “Dream Big!” in pink on the front. It has a sleep theme and matches her pajama bottoms. Hopefully, this will work.

7:08 a.m.: “Ooh, I love it!” Problem solved.

7:15 a.m.: I finish dressing Little G in the “Dream Big!” shirt, socks, and shoes. Comb her hair. Help her brush her teeth. Make sure her backpack is packed up with her coat, water bottle, and the two books that our family has been asked to donate to the school’s upcoming fundraiser.

7:20 a.m.: “Let’s read these books, Mom!” No, honey, we need to go. “Mom! I love Curious George! Just the George one!” I’m a book lover myself, a writer … how can I not read my daughter just one book?

7:32 a.m.: We finish reading just one book.

7:35 a.m.: Little G is buckled into her car seat, I’ve got her backpack alongside my bag in the passenger seat … man, I forgot my coffee. Just half a cup daily because I’m pregnant … don’t judge me too harshly, friends! 🙂 I hustle from the garage back to the kitchen and pour my daily four ounces into my travel mug. “Mom! Where are you?”

7:42 a.m.: I get the green arrow to make a left out of our neighborhood. It’s a rainy morning, and I drive extra carefully. “Mom, come on! It’s Pajama Day!” (You can probably imagine what I’m thinking about Pajama Day right now.)

7:56 a.m.: We arrive one minute too late for me to drop Little G off in the carpool lane out front. So with the rain pouring down, we run around the school building and into her classroom (what a sight I am, nine months pregnant and running). “It’s Pajama Day!” Little G’s teachers and classmates exclaim when we see them. Little G grins. I’m happy she’s happy. I hug and kiss her good-bye.

8:15 a.m.: Back at home, I finish writing this blog post. The only “work” I’m doing right now is updating my website with new blog posts … for your reading pleasure, of course, and also for marketing my past writing, especially my e-books. (If you haven’t checked them out yet, please do! 🙂 )

9 a.m.: I leave for my now-weekly doctor’s appointment at the South Texas Medical Center, where traffic can be crazy. But today’s my lucky day: green lights all the way!

9:18 a.m.: I’m 12 minutes early. Unbelievable.

9:22 a.m.: I begin reading last month’s issue of Food & Wine magazine. The desserts on the opening pages look good! My stomach growls; aha, I’m hungry.

9:25 a.m.: The “No Food or Drink” sign on a nearby table stares at me. I wonder if it’s serious.

9:26 a.m.: I decide it’s not. I sneak a few bites of a peanut butter granola bar—Little G’s favorite snack, so I always have some in my bag.

9:35 a.m.: Doctor’s appointment, just a smidge behind schedule—rare. Who knew reclining in medical-grade stirrups for a pelvic exam would be the most tranquil part of my Friday morning?

And that’s four hours, friends. What’s a typical weekday morning like in your home? Looking forward to hearing from you! 🙂