Nothing could have prepared me for the chaos of mornings as a mom. My pre-baby mornings were pandemonium enough, and I suppose that should have been a sign of things to come. Still, I never expected that from the moment my 8-month-old was ready to go to crèche, my mornings would be a series of barely-avoided-disasters.
The floor sander aka the dreaded alarm clock
Wednesday began like this. For a baby who wakes up at the opening of an envelope, my daughter sleeps through an alarm clock like a pro. Must be genetic. I’ve barely pressed the snooze button again when the noise upstairs starts. My landlady is sanding her floors.
Fine, it’s no biggie, unless, of course, with the exception of alarm clocks, the slightest increase in decibels around the house makes your baby weep. I don’t know what it is – perhaps some in utero trauma caused it, like the time I went to see Justin Bieber while I was pregnant – but she hates noise.
The vacuum cleaner induces weeping. She whimpers when airplanes fly overhead. Nose-blowing prompts little high-pitched squeaks accompanied by eyes the size of Oreos and a stiff body. (I caught the flu earlier this year. Economists: if you noticed a spike in tissue sales in March, that was us.)
So this morning, the floor sander is whizzing above like a Boeing 747 that’s stuck in the mud, my daughter is weepy; she can’t be put down because, weeping, and I am spinning. We are one-minute-to breakfast time at the crèche and I’m motoring through the house with the baby on my hip, and various spoons, bowls, bottles and creams in my hands. There is teething powder in her hair, nose spray everywhere but in her nostrils (yay, crèche germs!) and her coat, once attached to her little arms, is now hanging from a door handle (more tears) because it got stuck there as I whooshed out of the room – a monument to the shambles that is our morning.
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I berate myself, again, for being so awful at making lists. I made a list last week. I lost it. I made another list, following last week’s Terrible Tuesday: “1. Buy eggs. 2. Apples. 3. Razors. 4. Make morning to-do list and stick on fridge.”
I glance at the fridge. Nada.
As if to drive home the point that my life is just one snoozed alarm clock away from collapsing under the weight of its own chaos, the news informs me that Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal. The world is on the verge of an unprecedented crisis.
Well, that sounds bad, but there’s no time for the end of the world now, and I add that to the list of Things I Will Care About When I Have More Time.
(For a moment I fantasise about using this news as an excuse when my daughter inevitably arrives late at school.
“Sorry we’re late. The US has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Devastated. Shattered. I’ll pick her up at 12.”)
We make it to school, and I am exhausted. I’m ready to chuck some leftover spaghetti in the microwave, jump in the shower, crawl into bed and call it a day. It is 8:01 am.
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And then the guilt kicks in...
Back home after dropping off my daughter at school, it dawns on me that I am still wearing my pyjama pants, although I somehow had the presence of mind to put on this gorgeous olive-green shirt before I left the house. (I really should wear it more often. Works wonders with a pair of leggings.)
I realise that I am also not wearing a bra, and according to the evidence around me, I used someone else’s toothbrush this morning.
And then there’s the inevitable thud in my gut that reminds me I’ve dropped my tiny little girl off at school and I’m worried sick that she’ll be okay (she’ll be just fine, I know this deep down). Guilt.
There’s that familiar lump in my throat. Gulp.
But then I spot the little fruit jar next to my bed and I remember: During the chaos, somehow, I also fed my daughter some mashed mixed fruit that I'd made myself, while meeting an early deadline; my daughter went to school with hot porridge, a bottle, clean clothes, nappies and her favourite teddy in her bag; she is clean(ish), happy, rested and warm, and she even laughed a little when she saw her teacher this morning.
Nothing prepares you for the chaos of motherhood. No-one warns you that unless you are Martha Stewart levels of organised, your mornings are bound to be a frantic whirlwind of tears, wrong toothbrushes and failed attempts at administering nose spray.
But somehow you get through it, and whether by primal involuntary movement or dumb luck, you manage to care for your child, and they are just fine, and life goes on. Sometimes you feel as though you’ve just scraped through, but most of the time, just scraping through is enough.
More than enough.
How chaotic has life gotten since you've become a mother? Please share your stories by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish your story.
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