I got up at a six the other morning after very little sleep, jumped in the shower, dumped shampoo on my head and within seconds, my wailing two-year-old appeared at the bathroom door. “Good morning!” I attempted to cheer him although his continued shrieks and apparent confusion at being awake suggested that he didn’t agree. I crooned lovingly, clapped and smiled around the shower curtain while lathering my head, to no avail. Frozen in the doorway his tomato-colored face contorted, tears streamed down his hot cheeks and the screaming intensified. I rushed through my shower, wrapped a towel around my head, half dressed and swept my baby back into bed to cuddle. Bad idea when you’re on a time line. I woke up again at 7:30 leaving me a half-hour to wake the boys, dress and feed them all and get us in the car and on the way to get pictures taken. I leapt from bed, padded to the boys’ room, my wake-up song on my lips and stopped short. The door was ajar. Bad sign.
Sure enough, after dressing, (Where were my pants? Had to settle on my good capris with the yet-to-be repaired snag) gathering clothes and descending the stairs I found two boys — one at the table, one on top of it– with every jar of playdough we own opened, contents smeared across the table and smashed into the carpet. “Cereal in a bag it is!” I sang in the face of two guilty stares I lacked the time to deal with. Cereal in bags, I attempted to pull matching shirts for each boy from my assembled pile of clothing. There were two shirts but where was the third? I raced up the stairs in utter panic where I tore through the boys’ closet, the dryer and the clothes hamper. There it was at the bottom… rumpled, damp and (oh, yes) strawberry stained. One hand spread across the back of the shirt while one reached for liquid laundry soap, poured too much over the shirt, and I scrubbed. I scrubbed in the soap, scrubbed under the bathtub faucet, soaked, scrubbed and wrung out the shirt and stuck it in the dryer with a load of clean towels.
Got the kids in the car, ran up and pulled the damp shirt from the dryer — have to say it looked pretty good– and was off to a friend’s house for pictures. We pull up, I unbuckle the boys, pull them from the car and notice Christopher’s dirty, shoeless feet. “Oooh…” he stammered. With a chest-heaving huff I slam the car door and approach the house where my children waited. I waited, staring into the stucco, trying to slow my racing heart and then thought to ask, “William, did you ring the doorbell?” “No,” he responds. “Will you ring it?” He stares at me. Another huff and I reach over his head to press the button. Nothing. Huff, huff… Ring again. The dogs are barking, the car is in the drive… Ring again. Call… get voice mail. Ring. Kids back in the car. Out of gas. Stop at a nearby station. Pump won’t take my old, decrepit card. Have to leave kids in the car. Woman behind the counter speaks little English. “Pump five?” “No, pump seven,” I repeat, patiently. “Pump five?” She repeats. “Pump seven,” I enunciate. “How much on pump five?” Grrrrr…
Pump gas, snag in capris turns into large hole, get home, toss favorite capris. Get call from friend, “I’m so sorry!” she exclaims. “My husband woke up and couldn’t hear in one ear so we ran to the urgent care. I’m so sorry!” She repeats. “Not a big deal,” I mean it as I look over at another son whose shirt was clean, present and accounted for this morning and realize it has set-in stains all down the front. Strip him, soap, scrub, soak, toss in dryer. Smell smoke, run downstairs to find black smoke pouring from the microwave. Apparently Chris wanted an English muffin. Pack kids back in car, take pictures in the heat, come home, pass out.