If you’ve ever met me, read anything I’ve written about parenting, or even just crossed my path at school drop-off and wondered if the legging-clad woman with the crazed look in her eyes was a serial killer, you probably know I hate mornings. Hate. Them. Every parent has an Achilles heel (or two), be it potty training, the binky habit, a bed-sharing policy you wish you could break, or an inability to get your child to bed before ten p.m. Mine is mornings. I suck at them in ways that continue to shock me.
But this year has been going pretty well. I’ve even ditched my dry-erase checklist that includes everything from “get up” (yes, this is actually written on there) to take vitamins, pack lunches, feed the kids breakfast, check the backpack, and make the bed. Because I’ve been rocking it. I haven’t forgotten anything all year. I clearly don’t need any organizational assistance any longer. I’m like a sophomore-junior of parenting now.
And then it happened. The curveball to my morning competency. The dreaded freaking outerwear. The boots. The comfy mittens. The waterproof mittens. The hats: velcro and non-velcro, dog, monkey, infant hat that we insist on continuing to cram on a too-large head. The “puffy” coat. I can’t even discuss snow pants yet. Let me pour a drink first.
The addition of these items to our morning routine has begun to prematurely age me. Let me be clear: I. Hate. This shit.
I was caught unawares with the first snow of the season. I forgot that snow boots even existed. The day of the first snowy preschool drop-off I seriously had no idea where my kid’s boots were. After an adrenaline-pumping eight minutes in which I ransacked all the closets and sent my courageous nine-year-old on an earnest pilgrimage into the crawl space, we located some one-size-t0o-small boots from last year. Score! That is completely acceptable. Her teachers will never be able to tell.
I even found some crappy white mittens and matching hat to cast the illusion that I was prepared for this event. My impostor-concealment skills continually amaze me. When we arrived at school, I hastily unbuckled my four-year-old and instructed her to put on and zip her coat. (Because, have you heard? You’re not supposed to let kids wear coats in car seats. It’s unsafe. Google it. Let me spare you the humiliation of posting something on Facebook about how much it sucks to strap kids in coats into their car seats and have a barrage of more competent adults inform you in angry caps that IT IS NOT OK TO PUT KIDS IN COATS IN CAR SEATS!!!!)
So, anyway. She couldn’t zip it up. I was annoyed and tried it myself. The goddamn thing wouldn’t zip. I’d been sending her to school for weeks in a coat that only buttoned in a clearly half-ass, “other adults giving you the eyebrow raise because you’re an inadequate parent” fashion. Not zipped to keep out the wind. Let me tell you, people, when I made this discovery I almost wept at preschool. And yeah, you’re damn right, I headed home later and fetched yet another unattractive hand-me-down winter coat that at least zipped.
Of course, the white mittens we sent came home soaking wet and looking as though she’d been digging in a coal mine. Yet another fail: Duh, you’re supposed to send waterproof mittens to preschool. Not the soft kind, the kind that are nearly impossible to put on.
Since then, we have assembled a conveniently located, overflowing basket filled with alltheouterwear so that I never again fail to locate the appropriate gear in the morning. But honestly, it’s better to just leave all that crap in the car overnight so there’s no chance of losing it.
But the losing/locating of winter gear is the least of our problems. It’s the donning of said garments that makes me cry tears of blood and wake up at night with cold sweats. It’s the stuffing of feet into boots, the careful insertion of tiny hands amidst complaints that “MY THUMB ISN’T IN!” into mittens that don’t appear that they would actually accommodate hands of any size, it’s the awkward dance of figuring out which arm goes in which coat arm-hole that makes me want to run myself over with my own minivan.
Today it was freezing cold outside and I broke my own record of hollering “Quit dinkin’ around!” while I stood outside the van waiting for my youngest child to put her freaking coat on. Instead of complying, she lurched across the inside of the vehicle to do God knows what, probably inspect a crumb from the floor wreckage to determine whether it was edible. After manhandling her into her coat and mittens (with improper thumb positioning, as usual), we made it to the school’s gate.
Which is when I realized we’d left the snowpants into the car. The snowpants that my daughter had refused to wear due to their unsavory “puffy” nature for 18 consecutive months and finally decided were acceptable to wear last week—triumph! I had to go back for them. So I did what any responsible adult would do: sent my nine-year-old onward to accompany her sister while I headed back, hoping that nobody could hear me muttering “motherf*&#$*@” as I rifled through the stained mitten pile on the minivan floor.
I’m not going to make it through five months of this.
So I’ve decided I need to start waking up at 6:00 a.m. to meditate in order to properly calm, center, and prepare myself for the daily trainwreck that has become our winter morning routine. I’ll start tomorrow. So when at 7:23 am my four-year-old announces that she’s having the “worst day ever” because the bow on her pantleg is facing a direction that she does not prefer, I’ll smile with peaceful enlightenment and eagerly begin preparing for the puffy-gear parade.
And when I arrive at her preschool and look into the glazed eyes of the saints who are assisting 25 children with outerwear transitions three times a day? I’ll remember to get them a generous Starbucks card this holiday season.
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**Here’s what you might have missed this week:
- I was published on Mamalode with a story about my preschooler’s new game of gift giving. Read “The Gift Giver”
- I was published on Scary Mommy writing about Why We Don’t Force Our Kids to Give Hugs.
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