It is a daily battle. Every. Single. Morning. No matter how early I wake up. No matter how much I’ve prepped for a smooth morning the night before. No matter how much patience I vow to start my day with. The epic battle to get the kids out the door is something I will never understand. Because it doesn’t have to be a battle. It doesn’t have to be difficult. But it just fucking is difficult.
Here’s the deal – I start every day with good intentions. When we go to wake the kids up, we are happy to see them, give hugs and kisses, and start off by picking out the day’s outfits – which is a
fucking exasperating fun thing to do right??
Here is where the battle begins. Because apparently my son, at the ripe old age of two, has chosen to be very particular about his wardrobe choices. Pick the wrong Paw Patrol underwear or Ninja Turtle shirt, and a showdown is inevitable. However, there are some things you come to expect when you get to know your kids, and this is one of them. I self-talk myself into having enough patience to muscle through the wardrobe choices, and do my best to use nice words, negotiate fairly, and redirect the little
bugger sweet boy where possible. And I absolutely, positively, must allocate enough time for the kid to put on his damn clothes by himself – because, of course. They don’t have the capacity to do many things themselves yet, but they need to try right?? We all have the extra 15 minutes in the morning for that right???
Now, on days where my son has his shit together with his wardrobe and gets dressed in a reasonable amount of time, it’s pretty much 99% certain that my four-year-old daughter is going to lose her shit over something. That’s the thing about having more than one kid – the odds that shit goes sideways in the morning is literally double, triple, quadruple. Am I right? So when the boy is, for once, ready quickly and all decked out in his Ninja Turtles outfit and ready to eat breakfast, the girl is probably having a meltdown over socks. The older one is typically the one I can count on, because at that age, independence is a beautiful thing. It saves me from having to become an octopus and growing out eight arms to help everybody at once. But of course, if the boy is having a smooth morning, the girl will definitely be having a meltdown over socks. “You need to HELP me mommy – you MUST help me put on my socks!!!” If I gently encourage her to try it herself when she’s having a meltdown, it’s almost guaranteed that a fucking teenager level of rage will ensue. Some days I pick the battle. Other days I don’t. I begrudgingly give in with a smile on my face if it gets us moving faster. So much for independence, but we’ll try that again tomorrow.
Now for the fun part. Breakfast. Mamas, here’s the deal – I do my best to give a variety of foods, but my kids are picky as fuck, and this really limits our food choices if we’re in a hurry. Usually we do toast with peanut butter and jam, sometimes yogurt, and on a sophisticated day, it’s oatmeal. Heaven fucking forbid, if I introduce a new item at this time of day. I won’t even get into that – I’ve learned the hard way, and I know better. But I digress. But WHYYYYYYY is it that you think you’ve got your kids figured out, with what they like to eat, with what’s supposed to be easy, with what they will eat quickly, that all of a sudden they decide to be picky assholes over something they liked yesterday? WHYYYYY????
*Mutters choice swears under my breath*
Then there’s the other thing – I like to call my son the Meal Wanderer. With his intense apathy towards food – even food he likes – I wonder if he’s actually mine? Like – if we’re lucky enough to get one bite from him, then *Squirrel* he’s running upstairs because he all of a sudden realizes that his current pair of Paw Patrol underwear just won’t do. He needs to have Marshall hanging out all day on his ass, not Rubble. When you’re two, and you have the attention span of a goldfish, there is NO SUCH THING as peaceful mealtime.
See the whole goal is to get them fed and clothed in the morning right? Should be easy enough, right? But at least eight times out of ten, breakfast includes intense negotiation. I start off patient. I use gentle encouragement. The boy, if paying attention and in his chair, refuses to let me spoon anything into his mouth because he must do it by himself, remember? And the girl? Well, usually she’s a decent eater in the morning – and by the time she’s done her meal she’s trying to negotiate for a snack. (Because snacks are part of meals, right??) Inevitably, I’m trying to hurry up the boy and slow down the girl with breakfast, because if she gets some sort of second helping, naturally he will want whatever she has. Queue meltdown.
Finally, once the clown-show of breakfast ends, we are off to the Finale of Swears. Getting shoes/boots/jacket on. See, I have a finite amount of patience left in me for each day. Usually, by Shoe Time, I’ve got about 5% of patience remaining in the gas tank. Yet, still, I start off the first Get Your Shoes On request nicely, politely, and with the demeanour of a friendly Drill Sergeant. I remain somewhat patient on the 2nd and 3rd requests to Get Your Shoes On. But somewhere (and it depends on the morning), between the 5th and 10th request to Get Your Fucking Shoes On NOW, I turn into a raging fucking lunatic. Patience Tank Empty, and the jackets aren’t even on yet.
Some way, some how, we always end up making it out the door as a Hot Mess – every single day I’m certain that the neighbours think I’m an unfit mother. Because every single day, we are rushing, and I end up yelling, and saying Hurry Up and I vow, every day, that I just don’t have it in me anymore, and that I will go on strike the next time this happens. Run run run guys, we need to make it to school. If it’s an Extra Special day of Getting ready, it might just be cold out, and one kid will get shoved in the chariot with boots and jacket on top of them, because they’ve spent that long refusing the task of just getting their shit on.
Why do mornings have to be such a clusterfuck? I love my children beyond words. I want to treasure moments with them, not hurry them. It resonates profoundly with me that children at the age of two have absolutely no concept of what it means to be somewhere on time. Children at the age of four want to test boundaries and it seems are not programmed to listen the way we want them to. Children of any age, are still children. It’s not their fault that our society has us constantly rushing, rushing, rushing to be at the next place.
I vow every single day to make it through the morning as a better mother than I was the day before. To be more patient. More understanding. Perhaps I need to learn to meditate? I mean, I manage to squeak exercise in as a way of stress relief now and then, but maybe meditation, or Anger Management are where it’s at. Maybe I need to surf into my doctors office and ask for some anti-anxiety medication. Would that help mornings, I wonder? Would that make mornings easier???
But then I realize, also quite profoundly, that no amount of Xanax is going to get my kid to put on his boots when I ask him to put on his fucking boots. Xanax might make me care less about the pain of mornings, and who knows – it might even add to the Patience Meter, but FFS – it still won’t get us out the door on time.
I still don’t know why mornings are so difficult. Here’s what I do know though. I’m not the only one. I can see it in the disheveled eyes of many other parents at drop off. You exchange that look. That knowing look, that there has been a battle that day. We share battle stories. I feel you. All of you. If you can get the kids out the door with a shred of sanity left, you’re doing great, mama. And as you hug and kiss your kids goodbye, you know your vow to go on strike will not actually happen. Because your love for them, is far, far more powerful than any clusterfuck of a morning ever will be.