Monday, July 25, 2011

Survival Flashback: Beating the Clock

** I recently came across a forgotten old blogging attempt of mine, written back in 2007 when we "only" had three children and one on the way. It was pretty fun to read this glimpse into the past; two toddlers and an infant (ages; 3,2 and 6 months at the time) kept me hopping and being  pregnant drastically add to my fatigue. So I've decided to share a few of them with you in the form of "Survival Flashbacks", look for more in the coming weeks. - Leigh Ann**

Mornings at our house seldom run like a well-oiled machine, but some have a higher chaos factor than others, and this morning ranked about a 9 on a 10-point scale. I try to account for unexpected events when I plan my day, but sometimes, despite my best efforts, the clock gets the best of me.

Tony only has preschool two mornings each week, but those two days are always high-anxiety. I've made a promise to myself to never be that mom who sports pajamas and snow boots when she takes her kids into school, at least not until they start embarrassing me first. So in addition to getting Tony ready, I must also allow time to make myself half-way presentable, as well as Brileigh and Ainsley who are along for the ride. On this particular morning, looking acceptable was of a particularly high priority since I had to take the girls to a pediatrician appointment immediately following the drop-off.

The first hour and a half of our day contained the same frantic vibe that any other morning does. Trying to direct small children to achieve a common goal is like trying to stuff an octopus into a sack: as soon as you get one tentacle into the bag, another pops out the other side. Just as I finished tying Tony's shoes, Brileigh stripped down to use the potty and Ainsley spilled milk down the front of her shirt.

As I rushed to fill bottles and grab snacks for the diaper bag my eyes landed on the calendar that was intentionally hung in a prominent spot on the refrigerator. Keeping a weekly calendar is my ambitious attempt at being an organized mother. Each month I carefully print out four weeks’ worth of blank pages, the goal being that I actually remember to write down all upcoming events and refer to it on a daily basis. Realistically, I manage to scribble down approximately 60 percent of my appointments, often with the wrong times, not that it matters anyway since I rarely remember to look at the darn thing. But right there on the agenda for today was a monkey wrench in my schedule: "BRING A PUMPKIN TO SCHOOL TODAY."

Oh NO! Where the heck am I going to get a pumpkin right now? I checked the clock which only confirmed that I was running every bit as late as I usually am. Tony would not be a happy camper if he was the only child in class without a pumpkin. I have to admit, I even toyed with the idea of giving up and keeping him home from school, but the prospect of taking an extra kid to the doctor’s appointment brought me back to reality.

Ok, I can do this.

I kicked into overdrive and started yanking jackets out of the closet in a frenzy and urging everyone to "Hurry, hurry, hurry!" FYI, while this does nothing to increase the speed with which toddlers dress themselves, it does get them screaming and bouncing around much faster. If I was going to make it to the grocery store before school then we needed to leave right at that moment. Just as I was dragging the last child through the door, the unthinkable occurs, an event so heinous and unforeseeable that even the best planner could never have anticipated such a thing, the ultimate demise of a mother in a battle against time: a stray kitten wandered onto our porch.

For those of you who do not have small children living in your home, allow me to put this into perspective. Imagine that you live in a random small town in the middle of nowhere. One morning you open your door to find Elvis, Queen Elizabeth, and Brad Pitt presenting you with an oversized check from Publishers Clearing House. That would still pale in comparison to the riot a mere stray kitty can incite in a couple of toddlers.

My porch was filled with squeals, shrieks, and applause as the cat showboated around, sopping up the attention. It took nearly ten full minutes to physically pry each child off the steps and strap them into their car seat. By the time the last baby was loaded up, the trio of wails was deafening. Fat tears rolled down their chubby faces and their little arms were outstretched for the kitty as if I had just ripped them away from a long lost love.

Much to my dismay, when I finally started the engine to leave the cat didn't run from the sound as most would; instead, it simply rubbed it's head back and forth against the side of my tire. Seriously? Aside from being an avid cat-lover myself, the heavy fiscal burden associated with the years of child therapy that would be required after mommy squished a kitty in the driveway prompted me to get back out of the car and clear the path.

Once we were finally on the road I became fixated on making up for lost time. It wasn't until I heard little voices in the back yelling "Wheeeee!" every time I turned a corner that I realized I probably needed to slow down. Tony has also become quite a pint-sized backseat driver since learning what the various lights of a traffic signal mean. Perched in his big-boy car seat, he’ll shout out commands: "It's green, Mommy! Green means go! Go, go, go!"; "Uh-oh, stop Mom, red! Look reeeed!"; "It's yellow Mommy, step on it!" (as you may have guessed, I have my dear husband to thank for that last one).

I flew into a parking spot at the surprisingly busy grocery store. (Who grocery shops at 8 a.m.? Uh, besides moms buying last minute pumpkins, of course…) I would have jumped out of the car and run inside, but with three little ones in tow, it's certainly not as easy as that. Instead, I went around the vehicle, methodically sliding open doors and extracting each child one-by-one.

Surprisingly the first door I open is the trunk hatch. Ainsley's car seat is rear-facing in the far back row of my Caravan and thanks to my ginormous, eight-month pregnant belly, squeezing back there to unbuckle her is no longer an option. I now have to resort to pulling her out over the back row of seats, however this is not as simple as it may sound. First I must climb up into the rear of the van (contorting into several unflattering positions to hoist myself up) then I shimmy forward on my knees over hard plastic (ouch) and wedge myself between the stroller and travel play-yard (yes, wedge). Once I am close enough to reach the baby over my stomach, I can hang over the seat and unfasten the 5-point harness. Now comes the tricky part, using only the strength of my forearms I lift her fat little 24 pound body out of the car seat, tip her sideways and roll her down the length of my arms over the seat back (Ta-da!). All that is left now is to wiggle backwards out of the van and climb back down into the parking lot. By this point I'm sweaty, winded and not at all oblivious to the chuckles and stares around me.

The clock continued to tick by as I fussed with the diaper bag and a lost shoe. As we raced into the store, attention from other shoppers was inevitable. It could have been the cart full of kids, it could have been the ridiculous maternity overalls billowing out around me like a circus tent, or it could have been the red lollipop stuck to my butt. All I know is that it was annoying.

The public gawking is not always unsolicited. I think my children have come to enjoy being in the limelight. Brileigh, being more gregarious than her brother, is usually the first to snag a passer-by. I swear her eyelashes grow a good half-inch when it comes time to bat them at an appealing stranger. She usually opens with something offbeat such as "Hiiii! I’m Brileigh, I have a belly button". Once she warms up the crowd, Tony will jump on the bandwagon and recite his ABC's. Even little Ainsley throws out a few well-times squeals and waves her pudgy hand as if she's riding on a parade float. On this day, the sight of my two cherub-faced toddlers spontaneously hugging each other in the produce section resulted in an elderly gentleman stooping us to dig through his pocket for change.

As soon as I could escape our adoring crowd I grabbed the first small pumpkin within reach, swung our convoy around, and headed for the express lane. The cashier mistakenly charged me $3.00 for an $0.89 pumpkin, but there was no way I had time to dispute it. I forked over the dough and took off out the door, waddling behind a buggy full of babies with a pumpkin tucked under my arm. Back at the car I reloaded the children, which is the same process as unloading them but in-reverse and twice as time consuming.

Amazingly we arrived at the school less than 10 minutes late, which I consider to be a success. We followed Tony to his classroom with his little sisters shouting his name and grappling for one last hug like a entourage of Toterazzi. My heart was still pounding with adrenaline when I snapped the girls back into their car seats, but the morning was far from over. I had just enough time to hit up a drive-thru for some much needed coffee on our way to the pediatrician’s office.

We arrived and signed in with plenty of time to spare before our 9:30 appointment. I must admit, by this point I was feeling like quite the mommy-of-the-year. I mean come on, look how perfectly I scheduled this visit. "Mommy is good," I brag to Brileigh, as I planned out the rest of our day. "After this we'll go home and watch Beauty and the Beast, and by the time that’s over, it will be time to go pick Tony up!"

I should have known better. Despite being called back at 9:45, it was nearly eleven before the doctor ever graced us with his presence. By that time we were all cranky, miserable, and tired of being held hostage in the tiny exam room. He finished his job quickly and breezed back out the door with the over-the-shoulder promise that a nurse would be in soon to give administer the shots.

By 11:15 I was feeling the old familiar time crunch again—Tony needed to be picked up across town at 11:30. I shyly poked my head out the door and asked if I could please reschedule the shots, explaining that I absolutely had to leave to pick up my son from school. The surprisingly rude nurse informed me that I "couldn't do that,” I had to wait, and she was coming in “right now.” Being passive to a fault, I did as she instructed and waited in a panic until she finally came in five minutes later. All previous notions of being a meticulous planner were dashed as I found myself racing through town in a frenzy only to be the last mom at pick-up, as usual.

For more hilarious comics by J-Sto, check out

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  1. Reason 45,982,354 I don't have kids...I will just laugh my ass off from this side of the screen! Love it though!

  2. Oh L.... that describes most days in my life lol!

  3. I loved this so very much! I have three kids under age 3 right now and we plan on more. So I have a sneaky suspicion I will be in the same boat before the year is over. :) Thanks so much for sharing and I look forward to more survival posts!!

  4. 2,3,4,6,7 Is there a blog as to why there isn`t a 5 year old?


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