Parenting – Behind the Scenes
Parenting is not an easy job. Yes, some days are better than others and on those other days you find yourself saying things like “Are you standing on the ham?” “Get that flip flop out of your mouth.” “Why is there bread in the couch?” (Yes. In. As in stuffed-down-between-the-cushions In.) Mostly it is me having to say those things because in Parent World, I’m the bad cop. I’m the everyday facilitator that tries to line up all the ducks so things flow smoothly. Things, however, rarely go according to plan. My husband is the loving, patient one who gets on the floor and wrestles and plays farm and teaches our daughter to watch Pink Panther cartoons. I’m the one who gets to screech “BATH TIME!” and then chase her around the house while she tries to run away from me. I’m the one who cooks dinner and then when I tell them it’s time to eat, the youngster throws herself on the floor and protests that she does not want to eat. I get the bad jobs and it’s no fun. Everything feels like a struggle.
Here is a little look behind the scenes of what goes into just simply getting to work in the morning. It’s a miracle I make it there at all. The following actually happened last Tuesday. Picture it:
- Wake up. Go downstairs and make a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich for your beloved. Do the dishes.
- Do an exercise DVD of your choice and take a shower. Wish you could just go back to bed.
- Remember that you thought ahead to hard boil some eggs to make an egg salad sandwich for lunch today. Yay! Lunch!
- Brush teeth. Think about flossing but don’t. Wash face, dry hair, try to style it in some way that isn’t too repulsive, get dressed. My, this day is going smoothly so far.
- Go to kitchen. Get milk and pour into sippy cup and put it on the end table beside the couch.
- Pick out clothes for the Two Year Old. Admire the sleeping Two Year Old. How angelic.
- Try to wake up the Two Year Old. Get screamed at and kicked in the stomach. She is clearly not a morning person.
- Carry the thrashing Two Year Old to the potty as she yells “I can not get up! (She says it as two words) It’s dark outside! I don’t want to pee in the potty!”
- Put new pull-up on the Two Year Old while she tells you she does not want to go anywhere. Then add her pants while she laments that she Does Not WANT pants. By the time you change her shirt she has given up and wants carried down the steps.
- Grab two pony tail holders and two butterfly clips. Carry them, the Two Year Old and her socks down the stairs.
- Plop on the couch with all those items and the Two Year Old on your lap.
- Two Year Old will immediately demand some milk. That’s what step #5 was for. You reach over and hand her the sippy cup with milk in it. While she drinks it, you get her socks tugged on.
- Time to do her hair. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Good thing you grabbed those pony tail holders and butterfly clips.
- Sit still for about five minutes and watch Babar the Elephant. Check the time.
- Announce that it’s time to put on shoes. Two Year Old will yell again that she does not want to go – it’s dark outside. Good logic. But still, you patiently explain to her that the sun will be up soon and we really need to start putting on shoes.
- Go put your own shoes and coat on. Turn off lights and TV. Herd the Two Year Old to the kitchen.
- Go to grab the back pack that holds her wet wipes & pull-ups. It’s not on the table. It’s not in the dining room either. Find it on one of the kitchen chairs, pushed under the table.
- Open the door to see how cold out it is. (It’s not too chilly, just a little rainy.) Hear bawling erupt from the Two Year Old. She thinks you are leaving without her. Explain you were just checking the weather.
- She sees lollipops on the counter and asks if she can have a blue one. You negotiate on a purple one because there are no blue ones.
- Two Year Old remembers that she has a pocket book somewhere in the house and runs off to find it. You chase after her, telling her she probably doesn’t need a pocket book to take to the sitters. She’s hard to catch. You corral her and get her back to the kitchen.
- You glance at the clock and see that it has taken you six minutes to get from the couch to here. You put the Two Year Old in her zippered sweatshirt.
- You lean over to put Two Year Old’s boots on her. When you do, your hair gets in her lollipop. You make a frustrated Grrrrrr noise.
- Two Year Old wants her hood up. You pull it up.
- You pick up the diaper bag, your pocketbook, the sippy cup and the Two Year Old.
- She notices that your hood isn’t up. (There isn’t one on your jacket.) She tries to help by putting her Pinky (a little security blanket) on your head. It also feels like she’s put some of your hair up over the top of your head too. Your arms are full and you start saying “Don’t touch my hair! Don’t touch my hair! Don’t touch my hair!” (It was hard enough getting it to look that bad, it doesn’t need help looking worse.)
- Two Year Old starts crying because she thinks she’s done something awful. You try to reassure her that she hasn’t. She gives you a hug. Her lollipop is in your hair. Again. What kind of moron gives a Two Year Old a lollipop for breakfast?
- It is now waaaaaaay past the time when you should have left, and you are still in the kitchen.
- Rush out the door into the rain, still carrying everything and get to the car. Throw the junk in the front seat, hope the sippy cup doesn’t spill. Your car has enough problems already, it doesn’t need to smell like sour milk too.
- Put Two Year Old in car seat. Get your hair in her lollipop AGAIN. There is clearly no hope for your hair today. Why did you even bother to wash it?
- Untangle your hair from the lollipop. Two Year Old will ask if you are happy. You say not at the moment, I’ve got Popsicle in my hair. She’ll point out that it’s a lollipop, not a Popsicle and she’ll cry because she thinks it’s all her fault that you are now standing hunched over in the rain, untangling lollipop from your hair and making angry noises.
- Assure her that everything is cool and give her a kiss. Get the blasted lollipop in your hair. You’d think you’d have learned your lesson about that lollipop by now.
- Drive as briskly as possible to make up for all the lost time. Get behind a school bus. <sigh>
- Drop the Two Year Old off with the sitter who happens to be a very good friend. It’s still raining. Maybe it will rinse some of the lollipop out of your hair.
- Speed off to work with your hair sticking to your neck. Remember that you forgot to bring yourself an egg salad sandwich. No lunch today! Guess you’ll be eating fireballs and drinking coffee. Wonder to yourself how people with multiple children manage this.
- Get increasingly grumpy. The first person to get on your nerves is getting punched in the face. A massage and a nap would probably brighten your spirits. Ha! Like you’ll be getting either of those.
- Get to work, FINALLY. Stomp over to the coffee pot. Only 14 ½ more hours until bedtime.
And there you have it. Hats off to the parents with multiple children. I salute you. If you are the lucky parent who doesn’t have to do the morning struggle, this is why your spouse is such a grouch by the end of the day. Give them a back rub and tell them to take a nap. If you work with a parent who shows up to work chronically tired, this is why. Make sure the coffee pot is always full when they get there so they don’t end you. If you are a bystander just observing a parent, don’t point out that they should enjoy every moment. Just keep your head down and your mouth shut and no one will get hurt. The only words coming out of your mouth should be “I will babysit.”