As I type this, it is two-thirty in the afternoon on a weekday and everyone in my household is still wearing pajamas. No one has brushed their teeth, not one hair upon one solitary head has been coifed and thus far, exactly zero sit-down-at-the-table real meals have been served (although three rounds of Whac-a-Mole, two puzzles and an entire game of Aggravation have been completed). All concerned parties have opted to graze through the day like a bunch of brainless cattle, wandering hither and yon, raiding the fridge and cupboards at will. Myself included. That being said, dishevelment abounds and lethargy has rained down upon us like a scourge.
Indeed, the Nanny would be disturbed if not completely horrified. And because I recognize the magnitude of my deplorableness, I can easily envision her disapproving glare. The way she’d scowl and shake her head at me, tsk tsk tsk-ing me to death. Like a merciless taskmaster, she’d stand amidst my chaos and clutter with a big, fat marker in hand, fervently filling an enormous white board with bold and bountiful solutions for dealing with the disorder and mismanagement that together permeate my world. It’s likely that a complete overhaul of my parenting skills and system (or lack thereof) would be recommended if not demanded, necessitating the summoning of nanny reinforcements. Legions of them, quite possibly.
Naturally, we’d invite them all in for imaginary tea—to be served within the confines of the not-so-imaginary blanket fort now consuming my living room. The one I allowed to be constructed. The one littered with Cheez-Its. The one from which we viewed the antics of Tom & Jerry because I just couldn’t bear to listen to one more Palin rally, her Marge Gunderson-esque spiel ringing in my ears, reminiscent of that twisted yet humorous Fargo flick.
Granted, there is no school today, so the sleeping-in thing (which felt deliciously decadent) and the death of structure (which I condoned and perhaps orchestrated to my benefit) could, in fact, be deemed appropriate. Maybe even welcomed in some circles. Okay, tiny circles. Few in number. But quantifiable circles nonetheless. Even still, I ought to be ashamed of the sorry state of my domestic affairs. My ducks are undeniably in disarray. And that cannot be good.
I suppose it’s no secret that I don’t run a very tight ship. Admittedly, I pilot the Titanic most days; struggling to avoid the icebergs that pepper my hectic mornings. The women in the school office could attest to that fact. The ones who see me traipsing in to deliver forgotten lunchboxes and misplaced jackets—telling indicators of my ineptitude as a parent. Helen knows the score, too. She drives the big, yellow bus that we race to meet each morning—backpacks bouncing, shoelaces flapping and bellies sloshing with breakfast as we dash through the wet grass, my mind flying through the anxiety-driven Mom Checklist at warp speed: is everyone wearing shoes and clean underwear (yes, they’re on the list!)…did they brush their teeth…did they actually eat something…did I remember to pack their snacks…their library books…their homework…is everyone equipped with a stinking wad of Kleenexes just in case a monster sneeze strikes and none are to be found??! Oh, the horror!
The high schoolers sitting in the back of the bus know the awful truth, too. The ones who’ve forever peered through the clouded panes and watched me schlepping around the same silly book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane—a wonderful story, I’m sure; but one I’ve failed to finish reading aloud since last Christmas. I planned to share this literary gem with my brood at the bus stop, where we’d sit together on the curb and devour page after page as the gray morning skies surrender to the sun. I suppose I lug it there because I’m holding out hope that somehow we’ll find time to move past Chapter Three.
For whatever reason, I think I managed mornings better when my charges were kindergarteners. Back then we actually finished books together and even had time to discuss colorful characters—proof that my time management skills were at least reasonable and my mornings, less hectic. I hardly ever had to deliver a lunchbox or a coat to school because someone forgot it and I honestly don’t remember racing across the lawn to catch the bus—ever.
Then again, my memories of blanket forts and of lazy days spent in pajamas are a bit fuzzy, too (i.e. maybe I embraced the notion of disorder back then more than I’d care to admit). Perhaps that is the beauty of mismanagement—we conveniently forget the less-than-perfect-looking stuff of parenthood, yet savor every disordered moment while deeply immersed within it.
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Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel