I realized this morning that something has to change in the way things work at my house. I can’t just tell the kids, “Get dressed and brush your teeth, I need you to be ready in 10 minutes.” I don’t know why, I think I should be able to, but it has become obvious that I can’t.
This morning I had made their lunches and organized everything for our trip to school. It’s my day to drive my youngest to preschool, so I told the Bigs they could ride with me or take the bus. They chose to ride with me. I told them we had to leave by 8:30. I told them I had a call at 9:00, so I’d drop them off after their brother (because it would be too early to drop them off before). I really wanted to be able to do my 9:00 call from the (relative) comfort of my desk. (I say “relative” because lately sitting at my desk is causing back pain, aching in my arm, and tingling in my hand, even though my work area was completely overhauled to meet chiro and other ergonomic rules for correct posture and equipment positioning).
When I began descending the stairs after getting dressed, brushing my teeth, and checking out from work, I heard my oldest admonishing his younger brothers to “stop.” Stop what, I could only imagine. I had heard them goofing off. My oldest no doubt heard me coming down the stairs and changed sides. I am sure he was right in the middle of the mix mere seconds before. My younger two probably heard nothing over their wrestling and giggling.
No one was ready. No one had brushed. Not everyone had socks on. Not everyone had his bags packed. I was irate. I told them through clenched teeth, “I am going to start the car. Brush your teeth. Pack your bags. Put your shoes on.”
I came back in. “Where are your socks? Why haven’t you brushed yet?”
“There aren’t any on the table!” (which is because I had actually managed to fold and put away all the laundry except the load that was stranded in the dryer).
“I can’t reach…” (why hadn’t his brothers helped him?)
I groaned and ran back up to my office to get the conference details. I would have to dial in from the car.
When I got back downstairs, one was in the car, one was standing in the open doorway. And one was still in the bathroom.
“Shut the door. Did you brush?”
Eventually I got them all in the car and we were on our way. I grumbled something at them about being disappointed that I couldn’t count on them to do their part on our half-mile drive to school.
“Good morning!” the ladies at the drop off line said cheerfully. I had taken the Bigs first since it was no longer too early. I couldn’t answer, I was still too annoyed. I justified this by thinking, surely she’s talking to the boys anyway.
I told my oldest, “see you later,” since I was volunteering in his class today. I spitefully and childishly entertained the thought of showing up 15 minutes late to see how he liked it. He did not answer me, and neither of them said goodbye.
“Have a nice day!” my youngest’s preschool teacher told me.
“Thank you — you, too!” I tried to match her happy tone. But I was NOT happy. I got back into the car just in time to dial into the call.
Two things I learned today are
1) my reality is I cannot expect my kids to get ready on their own. If they ever do, I can consider it a bonus. I will spare myself a ton of agony if I simply lose this expectation.
2) focusing on the work-life battle day after day would be drudgery. I am going to have to look for other things to write about. We all know balancing and blending work can be hard.