I have vivid memories from my childhood of my dad, dressed to the nines and ready to go, sitting behind the wheel of our family sedan annoyingly waiting for our family of five to leave for church. He would be in the car with 30 minutes to spare, us three kids would slowly trickle that way as the expiratory timeline grew closer, and my mom would slump into the passenger seat at the last minute looking defeated, still putting her earrings on and breathe a deep sigh of exhaustion.
My dad lives by the philosophy that if you’re on time, you’re late. While I appreciate that motto, I don’t think he had any idea of all that went into getting us all into that car within a reasonable timeframe.
As a mother of three young children now myself, I do. Boy, do I ever! Last Sunday, as I heaved into the passenger seat of the van, alongside my husband who had been sitting idly for several minutes, I closed my eyes and took the longest sigh of my life. From the backseat, my well groomed, perfectly dressed, shoes tied, hair combed small children were singing and laughing and playing. They were blissfully unaware of the burden their mommy was feeling. All of a sudden it hit me that I sat in the same exact seat that my mom sat 30 years prior. The vehicle was different, the geographic location was different, the family was different. But the pure and utter exhaustion that comes with getting a family of 5 ready on a schedule was the same.
Sunday mornings at our house go as follows:
7:00 – 8:00am: Each of the five members of our family wake up at varying times and straggle out to the living room. Books are read, stickers are stuck, coffee is drank, noise is made.
8:00 – 8:30am: Breakfast
8:30 – 9:00: This time period is known as the “calm before the storm.” It is deceiving because it appears that our family, still clad with bedhead and jammy pants are about to embark on a relaxing stress-free day of no plans. Then, in an instant, reality hits and we realize we need to get a move on (LITERALLY).
9:00 – 9:30 (for my husband): He showers. Then dresses. Then repeatedly asks, “Is there anything I can do to help?” (All the while simultaneously NOT doing anything helpful.)
9:00 – 9:30 (for me): I ask #1 to put his clothes on (I’ve already laid out choices, so in theory, this should go quickly). He begs and bargains and pleads to wear “regular clothes.” I explain unmatched gym shorts with holes and a hockey shirt with stains isn’t God-friendly. A struggle ensues. I check in with #2 who has decided she wants to wear a dance leotard with tap shoes. I concede with the leotard but challenge the need for more appropriate footwear. A struggle ensues. I pick out clothes for #3 (who is 1), wrestle her into a dress, put her socks on, watch as she rips her socks off, put the socks back on, watch her remove them. I decide I can’t handle another struggle so no socks it is! I check back in with #1 who is still a puddle of tears on the floor. A struggle ensues. I check in with #2 who has lost interest in all clothes and taken them off to play with her stuffed animals in the buff. A struggle ensues. I ply #1 off the floor and remind him he is 6 year old and can do this on his own without all this yelling. He starts to get dressed. I chase down #3 and hold her body down with one of my legs wrapped around her while I fight her little hair into a side pony. A struggle ensues. I breathlessly track down #2 who is now hiding behind my bed (still naked) to avoid getting dressed. A struggle ensues. I pin her down and force clothes on her. It’s 9:20 and all 3 kids are now dressed! I still need to do my 4-year old’s hair, the kitchen is a disaster from kitchen and who knows what I’m going to wear??
At this moment, my beloved husband walks into our room, takes one glance at me, followed by a quick glance at his watch and says (wait for it): “We have to leave in 5 minutes. You haven’t even showered yet??”
Sometimes. There. Are. No. Words.