It’s Thursday morning. I’m in the bathroom doing my morning things. Time to flush and mush!
My kids haven’t had a full day of school since last Friday thanks to winter storm Wilfred or whatever. Today’s the day, though. They are back in session, baby. A productive day awaits. I might even get a chance to scrub the tub. I’ve got ricotta cheese and turkey meat. I’ll be making lasagna for dinner. Cheese. Oh yeah.
I flush, wash my hands and go pour coffee. The radiators are scorching. But outside, it’s five flipping degrees. I tell my middle child to “put on freaking coat.”
BAM! Middle child slams the door as he leaves to catch the bus telling me how horrible I am for making him wear a jacket.
And returns through the same door three minutes later to tell older brother, who’s standing there with three pieces of bread clenched between his teeth, that they’d both missed the bus… again.
I’m thinking I might look horrible–braless, weird flaky rash on my face, hole-ridden gray sweatpants (nope, not even yoga pants), crazy-ass hair–but I’m not the horrible person my son made me out to be when I told him to wear a coat.
I grab my keys. We find ourselves tugging on four frozen minivan doors. Panic sets in. Xanpower (that’s the superpower my oldest son Xander seems to conjure from his testosterone-laden bursts) conquers two doors.
Van starts (yippee!) only to be spinning its tires on the ice. I back-up, pull forward, rock it out in an awkward middle-aged sense and nearly careen into the neighbor’s chain link fence. I get the van down the alley and halfway to the school before I realize things are dragging along.
Ugh. A flat tire. Do I really have to stop? Yes, I really do. We’re riding on a rim. Exit van and abort second attempt to get to school.
No fear! The Jeep Cherokee (320,000 miles) awaits us at home. We start trudging down some icy sidewalks. A strap snaps on a French horn case that crashes to the sidewalk. I’m the only one with gloves, so I grab the French horn. Onward. We get back to the alley and the Jeep. Doors are frozen.
Tick Tock. Another tardy is just sitting at that school waiting to leap on some sorry kid’s back today. But IT WILL NOT BE MY KIDS’ TARDY. NOT TODAY, LITTLE HAPPINESS-SUCKER.
I jiggle the Jeep’s driver’s side door open and shove the French horn over the driver’s seat to the back (no easy task). I tell the boys and their suddenly disproportionately long legs to get in (no easy task). How they’ll get out of the car is anyone’s guess. I turn the key.
The gas light is glowing yellow, of course. We’re running on fumes. The windshield is iced over and the defrost fans are frozen and won’t come on. No matter, I can see through ice (well enough?).
We make it out of the alley, pass the forlorn mini-van and hit two green lights and a yellow. I briefly wonder if I should feed the meter by the van on the way home, but that thought slides away. The middle school is so freaking close I can smell it–tween spirit baby! (Oh, nope, that’s just the Jeep’s fans finally kicking on.)
Oldest child says his ears are frozen and he thinks he probably should have worn a hat. WIN! I’m sure he hears my silent “told ya so.” Middle child admits I am not “an idiot” for demanding he wear a jacket and comes close to thanking me. WIN!
I’m looking at the clock, racing that bitch of a tardy. I could swear the clock jumped ahead by two minutes.
We pull up to the circle drive behind other cars (!!!!) and there are teachers(!!!!). I keep driving forward until I land in front of a specific teacher, the strapping strong gym teacher with muscled arms, who pulls on the back door with his big man hands. IT OPENS! WIN!
My kids act normal, barely grunt “good-bye.” I am giddy. I didn’t have to go in to explain away any “tardies” with my dog-meets-ass morning breath. WIN!
When I get home there’s a phone message from a neighbor whose son missed the bus and needed a ride to school. Could it be that tardy trolling the neighborhood found another victim? I feel a little bad. But… WOOHOO! WE MADE IT ON TIME! I gloat in the moment of glory.
I could wax nostalgic and say I’m grateful for the frozen moments that give me fleeting feelings of being a successful mother. I could say I feel lucky for the reminders that while I am no longer a “Mommy” to my boys, I am a needed, capable “Mom” to young men in these times of middle-school angst.
But, truthfully, my 45-year-old bladder is just plain grateful for the simple fact that I had a few uninterrupted minutes of bathroom time (afforded by no longer having babies in the house) before this invigorating chain of events began.
Krista Genevieve Farris runs amok with her husband and three sons in Winchester, Virginia. You can visit her website for links to her poems, essays and stories.