By Stephanie Cook Broadhurst / The Mother List
It’s that time of year when kids start whispering about a “secret class project.” “Mom, I can’t tell you what we’re doing in school, ” they say.
I play along, but with Mother’s Day around the bend, I know they’re up to something adorable. This is the BEST part about Mother’s Day. Flowers rock, but nothing beats a homemade gift, “surprise” breakfast in bed, or anything from the heart — hands down.
But this Mother’s Day, in addition to a slightly burned pancake or inventive little drawing, I’m secretly wishing for one other thing. It’s not something the kids can create. It always seems just out of reach. Actually, it’s beyond anyone’s control, except for maybe that comic superhero mom who’s mastered every trick in the parenting handbook and can drive a minivan faster than the speed of light. My wish is to have one day — just one — where everything goes as planned. (Are you laughing yet?)
In our house, like most homes with kids, nothing ever goes as planned. We try, but never quite nail it. We leave early and we have a routine. We have a contingency plan. But it’s always a plan in motion. Cases in point:
The other night I was craving cabbage rolls. Go figure. I found a recipe that takes two hours and was kid-friendly – yes, really. An ambitious goal, but I had time that afternoon.
I plunged into sautéing garlic, onions and pine nuts — more than two hours before our baby sitter was scheduled to arrive. My husband was appearing in an event, and we had planned to eat dinner at home first.
One of my sons had a play date downstairs. His friend came up, sat on the top stair and said: “I don’t feel well.” I offered him water and asked if he wanted to go home.
Suddenly: projectile vomiting — on the stairs, in the hallway, in the bathroom. I gave him a hug, helped him get cleaned up, and called a parent to pick him up. (Thankfully, he was fine later.)
Meanwhile, I’ve reached a point of no return for making dinner. I have to finish what I’ve started. But I spend more than an hour bleaching and scrubbing.
“This is what I get for trying to make cabbage rolls, ” I think. When I’m done, it’s a race to the finish line. I’ve got 30 minutes to get dinner on the table — so I call Domino’s.
I scramble to rescue the #$% cabbage rolls, with the hope of serving them the next night. The pizza arrives first, then the sitter. I grab a slice and fan the remaining pizza out to the kids and husband. The cabbage rolls come out of the oven – just as we need to leave.
There’s been no time to shower, of course. I offer the cabbage rolls to the sitter, and she eagerly accepts. It’s one of those days where you just roll with it. We’ll eat the leftovers.
Another time we nearly nailed our morning routine. Everyone got dressed and ate quickly. We cleaned up the spilled milk, swept up the box of crackers that crashed down, and took the dog out. I even had time to braid my daughter’s hair. The boys were ready — coats on, backpacks stocked. Then my daughter put her boots on.
“I don’t want the pine cones in them, ” she said, wailing. “I want them out now!”
She had played outside the day before and gathered handfuls of baby pine cones. She had stored them in her empty boots “for safe keeping.” Understandably, they were causing her feet distress. We untangled pinecones from the faux-fur lining. I sent the boys ahead to walk to school. She double-checked her boots, over and over…. Patience. We arrive 10 minutes late to preschool – but with happy feet.
Now imagine (just humor me): Eating breakfast without spilled orange juice or the dog throwing up. Getting out the door without the kids squabbling or multiple wardrobe changes. A bedtime ritual where everyone has their homework done, gets ready for bed and brushes teeth – without being reminded 11 times. Stories, snuggles, lights out – Yes! And, the proverbial cherry on top: Everyone stays in bed.
To have one day like this would be any mother’s dream – right? But if this were the norm, we’d have to redefine motherhood. Instead of assigning the many hats to moms, the role would be more cut-and-dried. After all, we often are the household CEOs, financial planners, nurses, cleanup crew, schedulers, drivers, nannies, counselors, etc. because we don’t follow a strict job description, and we learn to handle new situations on the fly. (This, alongside the more traditional jobs that so many moms hold). It’s one part planning, two parts flexibility.
Adjusting to the unexpected and messiness in life. Being the jack-of-all-trades. Setting your own priorities aside to help your kids – all while striving to be that steady ship that keeps your family chugging forward. That IS motherhood. And the truth is, I love it.
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