With school starting for us here in New York in a few short weeks, and having started, or, just about to start for others around the country, I thought this was a good time to revisit one of my first pieces. This essay originally ran on the Dishwasher, March 27, 2011, under the name, More Coffee, Amen. It has been slightly edited.
Tuesday was like most days: I woke up around 5:00, had a cup of coffee, and glanced at the paper my husband left on the kitchen table.
I did my mom check of the backpacks, wrote the notes for the kids’ teachers, and put snacks into the bags of my second grader and kindergartener.
Usually, I shower and get dressed. But, I was so sleepy that I went back to bed for a few more minutes of snooze time.
I never worry about doing this. I have a finely tuned internal clock that wakes me whenever I need to get up. If that fails, my husband is usually up around 5:30-6:00 so he can catch his train. Plus I have three kids. One of the angels is sure to wake me up if plan A or B fail. It’s really a no-fail system.
Except for Tuesday.
I awoke with a pleasant feeling from a dream with my husband. (I think George Clooney was in the dream too, but, don’t tell Joe.)
Then I see the clock on the TV–6:55.
My sleepy brain quickly wakes up. My mom list goes off in my head. Lizzy’s bus will be here at 7:25… Peter’s at 7:35… What day is it? Tuesday. Early chorus rehearsal for Tom. He has to be in by 7:45.
No one is up.
This is not good. Not good at all.
“Joe. You picked a Tuesday to forget to set your alarm” was the loving way I woke my husband.
“OK. Everybody wake up,” I yell as I throw on my clothes and splash water on my face. No time for even the smallest amount of makeup. I don’t even have time to comb my hair.
I wake my special-needs daughter, which can be tricky.
“Lizzy, we have to get up, now. We’re late. Come on honey.” I put a warm cloth on her face, direct her to the bathroom, get her clothes, get her dressed.
No time for her to do it herself today. Quickly, quickly. I help her put the leggings on her long legs that I am very envious of.
“Lizzy, we’ll wear the pink dress today,” I say in my cheery, try-not-to-panic, mommy voice.
“Pink dress,” she replies.
Now her hair.
“That hurts,” she says in a pretty loud voice. I know what’s coming next.
“I live in fairy land” in an even louder voice.
“Lizzy, no fairy land, the bus is going to be here. We have no time for fairy land today.”
I rush to the kitchen and quickly give her some juice and her medications. I say to myself, 1 pink pill, 1/2 a green pill.
“Do you want some cereal?”
I get two bowls and fill with Cheerios. Milk for her, no milk for Peter.
I now get Peter, my youngest up.
“Wakey, wakey, we are in a rush. We have to move. Now. The bus will be here soon.”
“I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay with you.” His new morning saying.
“Peter, we are going to school.” This is said in my I’ve-had-enough mommy voice.
“I want something to eat,” another new phrase we say a lot.
“I have cereal at the table. Sit next to Lizzy.”
“I don’t want cereal. I want something to eat.”
“Peter, this is not a diner. We have cereal today or nothing.”
“OK mommy.” I love that kid.
Now I am running around and yelling at my oldest to get ready.
“I can’t wake up mom. I am sooo sorry.”
“No sorry, no sorry, just wake up.” This is said in my I-wonder-how-much-I-could-sell-you-for mommy voice.
The clock says 7:20.
Wait outside with Lizzy for her bus.
“Princess Lizzy, your chariot awaits,” is the greeting she gets from the aide on her bus. I smile and say a quick hello to both him and the bus driver. Lizzy smiles, kisses me from the window with the help of the bus aide. And she is off.
Now I check Peter. His coat is on. Great. Yell at oldest again.
“Tom, you are going to chorus rehearsal whether you are dressed or not. For all that is holy, please move your tail.” (I didn’t really say tail. I’m a mom, not a saint.)
Now I wait outside with Peter. He is pretty happy, even though he was carrying on 10 minutes ago that he was going back to bed. I like that about him. His bus comes. Get him on the bus.
“Bye mommy. I love you.”
My day is made! We blow a kiss to each other.
“Joe since your car is blocking mine, can you take Tom to chorus?”
“I’m leaving now.” Mind you he is in his underwear.
“That’s fine honey.” 18 years of marriage, I know when to say something and when not to.
Five more minutes they are off.
I herd them off to the door as if they are cattle.
“Remember, I have my club today, I need to be picked up at 5:00.”
“Yes, I know, have a good day.”
“You too, mom. I love you.”
I adore that kid.
My husband and I share a very quick kiss.
“I drop him off at the front for Chorus, right” Joe says getting into the car.
“Yes. Goodbye, I love you” I yell from my front door.
“I love you too.”
I love that man.
Everybody’s out. I pour more coffee in my Mom cup.