Before the School Bell Rings

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It used to be that the bathroom scale determined how my day was going to go. Do I feel victorious or defeated? Like a rock star or a loser? Strong or painfully weak?

Now it's the drive to school.

It's crazy how those precious few moments between the morning alarm and the school bell can set the entire cadence and tone of my day. When the kids wake up in a good mood, cooperate during the tooth brushing/pajama changing/breakfast eating routine all is right with the world. Sometimes we even have time to read a few books at the breakfast table (talk about feeling like a super mom!). On those days, we all but skip to the truck and dance all the way to school - chatting and singing away.

And then there are days like today.

Things started off smoothly enough. The boys seemed to wake up on the right side of the bed. The first to rise (strangely, my usually late-riser) was cooperative and kind. He brushed his teeth and got dressed with nary a reminder from me. We went downstairs earlier than usual and completed the breakfast routine with no issues. He put on his shoes and even had time to play a bit before we headed off to school. His brother woke up, with no drama, roughly 30 minutes later. Again, the dressing routine was a breeze and he cooperated throughout breakfast.

I went upstairs to finish dressing myself and informed the boys that we were leaving in 20 minutes. They played quietly and I even got to listen to a bit of the morning news as I finished my makeup. The countdown continued, with polite warnings echoing from upstairs in 5 minute intervals. I finished my morning routine with little stress (and even matching shoes!), then descended the stairs for what I thought would be a delightful morning drive.

Yeah, right.

It started when I asked the boys to put their board game away. At first, they ignored me and continued to play. Then, one decided that it would be funny to throw the game pieces at the box while the other chose to bat them around on the floor with his shoes. No worries - I can handle this! I reminded the boys to make good choices, to be good listeners and that it was time to go to school.

Fast forward to 12 minutes later. Game pieces are still scattered across the living room floor, one child is flailing on the ground and the other is running around the cul de sac among our family room/kitchen/living room/dining room like a fucking lunatic. Now the screaming begins. We have gone from being ahead of schedule to behind, my atypical cool has disintegrated into a cross between banshee and mental patient. My previously calm and cooperative children have transformed into assholes and my mood is shot.

And it's not even 8am.

The drama continues in the car, and I arrive to the school exhausted, exasperated and nearly in tears. We say our morning prayers, share a group hug and I shuttle each off to their classrooms. I feel the tears burning my cheeks on my slow walk to the car, and by the time I hit the driver's seat I can't hold back the flood.

How do you face a full day of meetings, decisions, challenges and life in general when you already feel defeated before 9am?

In retrospect, the scale was a much kinder master. Its numbers, while at times cruel and unexpected were more ofter than not completely rational and easy to explain. A few too many cookies here, too few minutes on the treadmill there and the numbers would rise. Days of good food choices, consistent exercise and healthy sleep patterns and the numbers could slowly be coaxed in the right direction.
The morning routine is a much more tempestuous and mercurial master. The moods and temperaments of two strong willed, independently minded children are much harder to control than my bathroom scale. Maybe one day I'll figure it out.

But today, I just feel defeated...

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