On Thursday we get the Thursday folders filled with completed work for the kids and homework for the parents. On Monday we have to remember that it’s library day for both and PE day for the 2nd grader. On Wednesdays and Fridays the little one stays for aftercare and also needs a lunch. And of course there’s homework, consistent every night for the older child, completely randomly assigned for the little one.
On a good day I roll out of bed at 6am and head to the Y when I wake up slowly as my feet pound the treadmill and the sun comes up outside. On those days I feel pretty confident that the kids will have everything they need to get through the day.
On the days when my wily, half-asleep brain convinces me that I can run later and need to sleep more now, I wake up at 7:15, already behind, already knowing that I probably won’t get the backpacks packed with every single required item.
They say school is hard for the kids, but I think it’s equally hard on the parents. Who needs Sudoku or cross-words to keep your brain sharp when you’re juggling two people’s schedules as well as your own.
And yet, as annoying as it can be to have to pack the exact same lunch every day, as challenging as it might be to keep up with the tons of paperwork, I kinda love this routine. There is so much normal packed into the little details that dog our mornings.
This is the stuff of family life. Breakfast debris abandoned on the table, hair braided on the couch with Curious George yammering in the background for distraction, lunches packed and shoved into overflowing backpacks, permission slips almost forgotten on the dinning room table. All the little details we won’t remember in 15 years when we think of the hectic and sometimes peaceful mornings that made up our children’s childhoods.
When I get frustrated because Little L takes 45 minutes to eat one yogurt, or because someone’s shoes are lost again and not in the shoe basket where they should be, when I feel rushed because I’ve only just realized that we’re out of hotdog buns and I need to improvise a lunch for a kid who won’t eat it anyway, when I’m hungry and know that there’s no time for me to eat let alone pound a cup of tea, or when I want to scream because there are no clean socks even though I could have sworn I just did the laundry, those are the mornings I most want to stop time and soak it all in. Because one day the kids will do their own laundry, they’ll pack their own lunches, and as I sit at the table and drink my tea, they’ll wave goodbye from the door and run off to lives in which I play a minor role.
For now I’ll embrace the mess in the house, testimony to the chaos that rules my day and know that it looks the way it does because there’s more important stuff taking up my time and energy. One day our house will be spotless. I’m not anxious for that day to come.