I love being a mother more than I’ve loved any experience in my life. But there is one thing I do not love. One thing that sends me over the edge almost every single time it comes up. One thing that knocks my carefully calibrated equanimity from here to Hawaii, and that thing is schlepping. Especially schlepping kids in the cold weather.
Because of this, I try to never leave the house. I can go for days hanging out in the house, making almost-flat Lilas, listening to Dan Zanes CDs and watching Elmo’s World videos, playing with Lila’s dollhouse, doing pretend HooteNanny. If we do venture forth, I make sure there are acres of hours of time on each side of the outing so that I don’t have to rush any child into or out of the car. For this reason, I try to make sure I, myself, have covered all my own physiological bases, in terms of hunger, fatigue and elimination. (Nothing makes me crankier than having to pee like a racehorse while Lila inches ahead of me on the six-inch path between snow banks that runs from the driveway to our back door.)
But on Thursday mornings, when we have real HooteNanny, we have no choice; we have to hurry.
-6:30-6:50 breakfast (self) (put on tea to steep—must make it extra strong!)
-7pm at latest,wake Lila if not up yet
-breakfast Lila (with lots of help from Tom; in fact, sometimes he does the whole thing.)
-7:20 at latest, wake Johnny if not yet awake in order to breastfeed
-7:35 get ready for run; must be back at the house by 8:10! On way down stairs, throw clean clothes and diapers at Tom in hopes he will diaper and dress kids while I am running.
-7:45-8:08-“run” (really, I jog)
8:08-take the kids from Tom up in our bedroom where one of us gets a shower and the other one just gets dressed (don’t tell).
8:10-8:45-Run around madly collecting snacks, water bottles; argue about what toys/blankets/books/half-crayon-missing-its-wrapper may come to HooteNanny and what may not, put hats and coats on kids, put Johnny in his portable car seat, put Lila’s hat and coat back on her, since she will have removed it, find Lila’s boot which Tom put on but which she since taken off, and then, (if no one suddenly has pooped and therefore has to have his/her diaper changed, which of course means removing coats and pants), holding the car seat with one hand and Lila’s hand with the other, make way down treacherously icy back steps and icy walk to car, which will be locked. Find key in handbag. Unlock car. Retrieve Lila who has wandered to the other side of the parking area. Put her in her car seat, sometimes against her will. Put Johnny’s car seat in its base. Run back to the house to get the diaper bag (only sometimes do I remember to do this) and mug of hot tea. Drive the 4 minutes to Center Street and find a parking place easily. Dig through hopelessly disorganized purse looking for quarters for the meter. Get out, pop the truck, retrieve the stroller base, put all but one quarter in the meter. Bring stroller base to Johnny’s side and pop him in. Lila will be crying, so quickly go over to her side to unlock her. “I wanted to put the quarters in the meter!” she will wail. Say, “I saved one just for you.” With one hand, lift her out; with the other hand, hold on to the stroller. (Suck in abs so lower back doesn’t hurt all day.)
8:59-Let Lila press all buttons on the elevator. Arrive at HooteNanny; remove all boots, coats, hats, non-essential paraphernalia, and if the diaper bag was remembered, ask the babysitter to change the inevitably wet diaper. Sit down and drink tea and say a prayer that you will get through the morning. And thank God for this rich, crazy, stressful, marvelous life.