There’s a parenting FB page I am on that sometimes brings up the topic of morning routines. How to make it shorter, faster, simpler, happier, smoother, easier. There are people with three kids who take an hour and then people with three kids who take over 2 hours. There’s the time it takes if one parent does it alone, and the time it takes if two parents manage it together. There’s the craziness involved when you wake up late, and the same damn level of craziness if you get up on time.

Listen people, you cannot win. Just stop trying.

Ok, that’s pessimistic. But I realized that I also cannot compare my morning to some other single mom with one kid. We do things differently. For example, I know people who make their kid’s lunch the night before. I CAN’T EVEN WASH THE DISHES AFTER DINNER, so you know I am not making lunch. And neither is the kid. He’s too busy playing Wii or trying to kill me in Monopoly or reading. I kinda also don’t want to spend a chunk of the evening thinking about the shit for the next day. We do make sure his homework folder is in his backpack but really that’s it for morning prep at night. We are minimalists. Evening is down time. Tomorrow is tomorrow.

So how does our morning look? Kinda like this:

6:00 – first alarm goes off. press snooze or turn it off. kid wakes up and comes to snuggle.

6:30 – second alarm goes off. press snooze. wake up but stay in bed. maybe fall back asleep. wake up again. tickle the kid to wake up. grab phone to check email, weather, Facebook… don’t judge.

7:00 – third alarm goes off (YES. three alarms) if we are not up by now, this is when we jump out of bed in a manic panic.

6:30/7:00 – 7:15 – Kid gets dressed and starts making his lunch while I make breakfast. I’m reminding him that he can’t just have some cold pasta and a juice box and lots of marshmallows for lunch. And he can only have TWO marshmallows. And he needs a fruit or veggie and some chips. (I should really make a list for him…) He also has to take a snack, so he sets aside the snack he wants to bring while I draw on his brown paper bag (more on that later).

7:20 – fourth alarm goes off. This is the reminder for me to get in the shower and start getting myself ready.

7:15 – 7:30/7:40 – I’m in the shower while the kid eats breakfast. This is where there is variation. Some days breakfast takes a little longer to make if I make a hot breakfast. And then it will take longer to eat as well. Some days my shower will take a little longer if I need to shave my legs or wash my hair or if I just fall asleep standing up (true story). And then there was the time the turtles were in the tub for a week and I had to drain the tub, take out the turtles, take my shower, then refill the tub to put the turtles back in.

7:30/7:40 – Yell out of bathroom door for kid to quit his dawdling, finish his breakfast and come brush his teeth and wash his face. Which usually involves him just splashing some water on his forehead and then me grabbing a wet washcloth and scrubbing the crust from his eyes and the crumbs from his face, and smoothing his hair down. He hates it when I do that, but apparently not enough to just wash his face properly himself. I figure if I manhandle his face enough times he’ll eventually just get sick of me and do it himself. Right?

7:40/7:50 – Me throwing clothes on while I’m barking orders at him to put on his shoes and coat and get his back pack and make sure his lunch and snack are in there and feed the cats and clear his breakfast dishes from the table.

7:50/8:00/8:10 – out the door! either running or meandering depending on the time. We have a drive to his school that can take 25 minutes or 45 minutes. On the days we are late leaving, I pray it’s one of those 25 minute days.

Now about that snack bag. I draw a picture on his snack bag every day that I take him to school, and have done so since kindergarten. So for almost 3 years now. I have no idea how it started. Just one morning I decided his snack bag was kinda plain so maybe I should draw a smiley face on it. And it got more elaborate from there, I guess. Usually I’ll draw an illustration from whatever we read the night before. Or a scene from a movie we might have seen over the weekend. Or I’ll draw my son doing something like feeding the cat treats or riding his new bike. Or there were some random funny ones, like this winter I drew piles of snow with just his head sticking out and a sign that said “we surrender!” The drawings are always in colored pencil on just one side of the bag, and on the other side is something like “have a great day! love, mommy” There was one morning we were running so very very late and I said to him that I didn’t have time to draw on his snack bag. He was so disappointed that of course I had to try anyway and made a really quick single color sketch. Some days they are simple, some days they are very detailed. I’ve thought of drawing them the night before or maybe drawing a bunch of them to have a stash for a few weeks. But I like the spontaneity of doing it in the morning, and he likes to watch the drawings evolve as he eats his breakfast. Or sometimes he doesn’t see the drawing until he gets to school because I’ll just put the snack in his backpack without showing it to him. I’ve thought of documenting them each day, but I can’t keep up with remember that kind of crazy. And, the snack bag drawings are for him. They are ephemeral items meant for a short time and then thrown away. And that’s fine.

In writing this, I realize that’s what really makes our mornings significant. The snack bag drawings. For 5-10 minutes we slow down while I draw. It’s very meditative. Even if I wake up in a foul mood or he’s feeling grumpy and whiney or we’re manic or I’m yelling at him about using a gallon size bag to pack popcorn for lunch (wtf?), this simple act slows all that down. I sometimes feel bad that I don’t eat breakfast with him, just every once in a while. But that’s not what helps us start our day. He’s happy to see me draw something special for him and looks forward to school when he can have his snack in his special bag. Well. I only just now figured that out.

Tomorrow is a new day

I have been waiting for Whiny Wednesday all freaking week… (bear with the long rant cause at the end it is parent related)

Something happened last Friday that pissed me off and I can’t recall what it was because I was then consoled by new earrings in the mail from Etsy when I got home.

But on Friday night I parked my car in an EMPTY spot that had no space saver (there’s a good WBUR article for those who have no clue what that is) cause a few days earlier someone stole my space saver. Whatever dudes. Well apparently where I parked Friday night was invisibly claimed by someone because on Saturday morning I discovered THREE SLASHED TIRES. And AND two giant bags of trash on the roof of my car. MOTHER. FUCKERS. So I call the police, fill out a report, call my insurance, file a claim, and they say they’ll send a tow truck.

And of course I leave a “Dear Asshole” letter in the window.

Well I was supposed to meet with a study group on Saturday morning but then had no way to get there and instead tried to use Google Hangout to listen in on the meeting but it was useless and I am confused and way behind in class now. Gah.

Sunday, got a rental but still no tow truck. But I know my letter in the window was read by the asshole cause the trash bags were gone. So I call the insurance company and they say sometime on Monday and I say I teach all day so can I schedule for a specific time and they say ok and I say after 4pm. Good.

So on Monday I abandon my last class of students, I rush to get the kid from his school and rush home to meet the tow truck and the minute I walk in the door there’s a call from the tow company telling me they can’t make it and need to reschedule. What in the fuck? Ok, Wednesday after 2pm and I remind them I’ve been waiting since Saturday and I left work early for this so don’t screw me over again.

Meanwhile I’m driving a car with Jersey plates and as a girl from the Bronx, this is an abomination.

And the letter is still in the window. I’ve been muttering ASSHOLE all week. If my kid indadvertedly blurts it out in school I will be in such trouble.

Then today I rush home, meet the tow truck, dude’s on time, quick and courteous. But the police officer/crossing guard at the end of the street is not. He tells the tow guy to move cause he’s blocking traffic and school busses. The tow driver tells the officer “If you keep talking to me this will take much longer. Shut up and let me do my job, and it will take 5 minutes.” The officer backs away then looks at me so I say “I’ve been waiting 5 days to get towed so that traffic can suck it up and wait.” Now the car is towed and I am awaiting to hear back after the damage appraisal is done.

After first discovering the slashed tires on Saturday morning and calling the police and insurance company I was overwhelmed and on the verge of tears but I was trying really hard to get it together. Trying and not succeeding. For fuck’s sake, I’m in school part time, I teach full time, I’m trying to make time to nurture a real relationship with my girlfriend AND I have a child. AND trying to find time to care for my aging parents in NYC. I HAVE HAVE NO FUCKING TIME FOR THIS SHIT. Well he saw that I was about to lose my shit and came over to give me a hug. And he said to me “Mommy, today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow and yesterday was yesterday. Every day is different. Tomorrow will be a new day to try again.” Then after a quick peck on my nose, he was off to play his wii.

*heart burst*

Now with the rental car we’ve had to park several blocks away in a city lot across the other side of the square we live near. So it means in the morning leaving about 5-10 minutes earlier to walk to the car. And at night when we get home, schlepping a ways to get home when we are already tired from a long day. But he hasn’t complained. Not a groan, not a moan, not a whine. On Monday morning when we did the first schlep to get to the rental car to drive to school I slipped on the ice and fell flat on my back. I was ok, but from then on for every schlep he’d point out the ice and tell me to be careful. He’s been a champ. A rockstar. My hero. And every day I think I can do this today, whatever it is I can do it. Cause there’s a 7 year old sweet faced little boy of my heart who believes that I can. And he believes in tomorrow and getting up in the morning and trying again.





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