It always starts with the best-laid plans. It really does. The morning marked a fresh start. The prospect of getting out of the house was promising. We were meeting at a friend’s who just had a baby. One girlfriend was bringing Starbucks. I had offered to bring lunch.
All we had to do was get out of the house in a timely fashion and get food. The kids would be out of each other’s space and playing with friends. It would be so nice. Leaving the house with toddlers verges on my undoing on the best of days. This day in particular, I was under siege.
[bctt tweet=”Leaving the house with toddlers verges on my undoing on the best of days #parentingproblems”]
With a final click of the mouse, I was finished my work for the morning. I pushed my laptop away and taunted the kids with a race to motivate them to get undressed and in the bath. Once clean, the naturists sprung loose from their towels and ran off in separate ways. Negotiations for their prompt returned failed as I tackled the bum-bum closest to me. My attempts at subduing the trashing with rationale got me a whole lot of nowhere as I grabbed still-damp limbs, attempting to “gently” shove them into sleeves and pant legs. One down. One to go. Both sets of teeth took WWE style body holds to get clean.
Then it was my turn.
Getting myself ready always feels so dichotomous. Caught between relief and trepidation, I’m so grateful to finally make myself look and feel half human. Trepidation comes for fear of what my two terrors may undo or do while I’m preoccupied in the shower and getting dressed. Nevertheless, I made my way upstairs while forewarning the kids with a singsongy voice, “We cannot leave until everything is cleaned up. If you start now, we can leave sooner!”
I didn’t have my hopes up.
Trying to do hair and makeup while refereeing sibling rivalry makes self-care seem oxymoronic. But I try anyways. I like to feel somewhat normal despite all of the ridiculousness. As I made my way downstairs feeling as coiffed as I could considering the circumstances, it became evident that the toy eruption had taken an even greater hold of the main floor. I wrangled my wild children, crouched down, and looked them both dead in the eye, “We need to clean up before we leave.” This was all they needed to go totally rogue, giggling with laughter. The window for being close-to-punctual was shortening faster with every expression of willfulness. A countdown, coupled with an ultimatum “inspired” my youngest to pick up his toys and then promptly run off. As soon as I had shot a text to the host apologizing for my inevitable tardiness, I was off to face my oldest head-on.
Down to her level once more, I meant business, “Are you wanting to go to your friend’s house today?” Her eyes sparkled with impish willfulness, “Yes!” “I’ve asked you twice. It’s time to clean-up” Her face in a full on grin now, her previously flighty feet stood firm. “I’m too tired,” she whined. The bounce in her voice and her escapes prior revealed the opposite to be true.
I could just pick these up and have it over with.
If I had picked these up when I first came down, I would have saved myself a substantial chunk of time and would have had a temporary break from wrangling 30-pound humans.
Why am I even choosing to have the toys cleaned up before I go?
If her feet weren’t still planted, if her stare wasn’t egging me on, and if her brother hadn’t conceded victory, perhaps I would have let punctuality trump my own stubbornness and desire to see things through.
Instead, hand over hand, I dragged her to those first few toys. “I don’t want you to help me,” she forcefully asserted. As I backed off, she stood proud in her perceived triumph.
Shoes were another endeavour. Spontaneously and conveniently “forgetting” how to do daily tasks when Mama is parenting from the brink of insanity seems to be a card my kids like to play.
In the car, it was as if it never happened. Polite, docile, and appreciative words were all that came from their little mouths.
“It’s such a beautiful day!”
“Thank you so much for bringing us, Mama!”
Gritted teeth, sweating, my previously straightened hair now looking like I’d been hiking through the tropics, I parked to pick up the lunch I’d promised. I smiled and sent a final text.
“We’re finally on our way. When I get there, please make sure my coffee has vodka.”
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