I had big plans for this morning. Organized, well-laid, foul proof plans (notice I didn't say fool proof.)
This morning was our first Preschool Mom's breakfast at church after the summer break- Cross Connections. And because these breakfasts have meant so much to me in the past, I was excited to be part of the team who helps set up for them each morning and organizes the food.
However, this did put a bit of pressure on this morning. Mornings are already quite chaotic and a lot crazy around here as I try to feed/dress/diaper/toilet all 3 children alone and then get Addison to school on time for a 8:00am drop off.
But no problem, I thought. I got this.
I was in charge of bringing a baked good, so I decided on two pans of homemade Cinnamon Rolls. I love to make them, and rarely do for our family because I end up eating them all. So I started mid afternoon yesterday with the making of the dough and letting it rise. I rolled out a house sized piece of dough. I spread delicious toppings. I sprinkled on extra love (this is also known as cinnamon). I rolled up the masterpiece. I sliced carefully- measuring first. I let it rise again. I baked my lovingly prepared works of art.
I was working long past the kids went to bed as this whole process took time. Since I was already up and going- I tackled the rest of the morning prep. I picked up the house, swept it, wiped down counters. I packed snack for Addison. I picked out 3 tiny outfits complete with pairs of underwear and socks. I shined the house all over and laid out every single item that we would need the next morning.
Pretty much all the kids would have to do was to roll out of bed and onto a stack of clothes which would automatically attach itself to each child and then launch them directly into their carseats while tossing dry cereal into their mouths.
Score. The stressful, packed morning should go smoother than a baby's face after a yogurt facial. Planning makes everything better.
Or so I thought.
The day started out okay- nothing too traumatic other than a super early start. First Addison woke up with an announcement to the world that "I NEED TO GO POTTY." The baby blinked open sleepy eyes and smiled that smile that loosely translates "if I don't get a banana into my belly in two minutes, this smile will quickly turn itself upside down."
Handled and handled.
The problems started when Carter Henry woke up. Rising from his toddler bed with an adult sized chip on his slim little shoulder, he was out to make trouble. I realized this when he spilled his cereal all over the floor. I even more realized this when I was changing the baby, heard silence, ran into the kitchen, and found him absolutely demolishing an entire pan of my beautiful, beautiful cinnamon rolls. Hands poised into the baked good as if massaging the back of a cat that he hated, he grabbed handfuls at a time and threw them around as if his mother HADN'T spent her whole afternoon laboriously perfecting those rolls. While mutilating my love child made of dough, he grinned. GRINNED.
I smiled with patience and graciousness and said "Oh sweetie, no, no." while gently patting him on his head. Just kidding. I totally lost my cool. I carried him, kicking and screaming (he kicked and screamed a little too), into his room for time out until it was time to leave the house. My thought pattern was along the line of "I cannot do this. I just cannot do this."
While I was dealing with him, Addison decided to go stick her head in the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. Stick her head all the way into the toilet until her hair was wet and dribbles of water were sneaking down her cheeks.
Biting back anger at this point, I carried a kicking and screaming Addison over to the shower. I shampooed her hair as quickly as possible, rinsed her off, and wrapped her in a towel to go try all of this again. She cried about the meanness of her mommy the whole time and then begged for "T" because no doubt "T" never gave her quick showers that accidentally got soap in her eyes.
Carter was screaming toddler version of obscenities from his room. "No No NOOOOOOO! GET OUT get out GEEEEEET OUUUUUT NOOOOOW."
Meanwhile the baby was in the living room sticking all the laid out clean clothes (that Addison had thrown onto the floor) into his mouth still sticky from lots of banana.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
I finally got all the kids dressed and into the car, and we left (down one pan of cinnamon rolls and a lot of mommy sanctification.) We left the house looking like no one had ever cared enough to clean it. Ever.
We got to school and were ten minutes later than usual (hmmm about the same amount of time required to wash a girl who stuck her head in the toilet.) Because of our lateness, the class was not where it usually was. Or in her classroom. So we were stuck outside the school, unable to get in and her aide couldn't see us and come out like she normally would. My phone was way back in the car.
Another parent was gracious enough to go around front and down into her classroom. The triple wagon wouldn't fit into the elevator otherwise I would have just gone around front myself.
I finally got Addison dropped off. We finally got to the breakfast. I wasn't too late to help set up. I finally got both boys into nursery (glory be.)
I was so frustrated and defeated from the morning that I had planned to go perfectly. If it wasn't for these children, this motherhood thing would be so easy. It looks awesome on paper. And in my plans. But in reality, I have cinnamon roll destroying, toilet dunking, clothes chewing monsters that make me a mother. Monsters.
These were my thoughts as I settled down for the breakfast.
What were themes that kept reappearing? Loving our children unconditionally. Motherhood is a race. The ability to know our children better than anyone else- and them know us. The opportunities that lie in the preschool years. The rare gift that is the lives of children.
But my mind kept going back to "loving our children unconditionally."
With Addison's diagnosis, I learned this a very hard way. I actually thought at first "I can't love her now." As if an extra chromosome meant that she didn't meet the conditions for my love as her mother. But then she has taught me to love her unconditionally. Extra chromosome or no- she is my beautiful daughter and I love her fiercely. Not for who I wish she was, but for who she miraculously is.
But do I offer Carter the same opportunity? Do I still love him when he's a perceived monster?
When my patience disappears and my voice snaps at them because HOW DARE THEY SET BACK MY MORNING ONE MORE WAY- am I loving them unconditionally? Am I showing them grace? If they are the ones who know me best, how will they remember me? Like this? Will they remember this morning and the "MONSTERS" look in my eye that I gave them?
The morning out was very refreshing and challenging (as opposed to the morning in getting ready for the morning out.) And Carter? Ran around in the gym so much all morning that he came home and passed out cold for 4 hours. FOUR HOURS. A lot of mommy sanctification can be renewed in that space of time. A lot.
I want to be the perfect mother who never looses her cool. I really do. I want my children to be perfect little children who walk in straight lines and ask their questions in perfect fifths. But is this reality? No.
I've spent a lot of time today thinking about how to deal with these awful mornings when everything seems to go wrong when I'm already super stressed about the time table to get out the door. And honestly I don't have any "fix-it" answers. Just begging for more patience and grace for myself. For not speaking the first thing that COMES TO MY MIND but taking just an extra moment to take a deep breath and really think about what I'm about to say.
And putting all cinnamon rolls so high that practically they are on the roof of the neighbor's house.
I don't want my children to remember me only as the mother I was this morning. So I'm going to try again. Tomorrow. With a little less in the expectation department and a lot more in the grace department.
Tomorrow's agenda: taking all 3 kids to the Pediatrician. alone. Sounds like a foul proof plan, huh?