Every time I get a little cocky about how easy parenting is these days, the universe takes the opportunity to slap me around a little and show me that I’ll never get the hang of this thing. I don’t know how I forget every single summer, what the fall and winter months feel like with small kids but somehow I do. The summer months, with nowhere to be and nothing to do, trick me into thinking that not only am I an amazing mother, but my kids are practically perfect. Most kids are pretty sweet when they can stay up a little later, sleep until they are ready to wake up and only have to wear a bathing suit.
I’d like to say that we started the school year strong but I’m not sure we made it an entire week before homework folders were forgotten at home, lunch boxes left in the car and flip-flops were worn to school on PE day.
Things have snowballed from there. I felt a familiar panic settle in when I dropped Aubrey and Emma off at school and came home with a feverish Sadie, or Patient Zero, a few weeks ago. I had a foreboding sense of doom, that this was only the beginning and I was right. One snotty nose begat another snotty nose, begat a fever virus, begat a stomach bug— it’s been like the CDC’s version of musical chairs around here.
Sadie was still recovering from being sick when I had to drive two hours to Jackson, Mississippi to take Emma to a doctor’s appointment. They fought the entire way there. My right eye was twitching a little by the time we stopped to eat lunch and by the time we got to the doctor’s office I was out of patience. Sadie couldn’t be still or quiet while I filled out paper work and apparently Emma’s gaze upon her face was like the heat of a thousand burning suns.
My blood pressure roared in my ears and I could feel my neck turning red. “Get up, we’re going to the bathroom.” I ordered, dropping the clipboard on the loveseat.
“I don’t NEED to go potty, Momma,” she whined.
“I don’t care. You get up because I said to. Do you understand? Get. UP. One… two…” I grabbed both girls by the hands and pulled them toward the restroom. As we went through the door Sadie yelled, “MOMMA! Why don’t you say three anymore???”
We had some strong words in the bathroom and both girls promised to be on their best behavior for the rest of the visit. And they tried, they really did. It was a total accident when Emma dumped two cups of water over at the water cooler in the hall and she cleaned it up without me having to say a word. And the painting that Sadie knocked off the wall as we were trying to leave was hanging a little low to the ground. Maybe she shouldn’t have been walking backwards down the hall but at least she wasn’t screaming.
I was talking to one of the office staff when the painting crashed to the floor. Everyone in the office jumped to their feet and leaned to look out the reception windows.
I paused for a second then whispered, “I’m going to pretend like that didn’t happen and we’re just going to leave.”
Wide-eyed, she nodded at me in agreement and we were out the door before anyone could count to three.