Mornings are often difficult in my household.
There’s so much to do to get 4 kids out of bed, ready for school, and out the door on time.
And this is a never relaxing experience.
T-minus 40 minutes and counting.
Wake up the kids.
(Except for the two younger ones who are up when the rooster crows.)
My daughter gets up without any problems, which I am oh, so forever grateful for.
My older son?
I just turn on the lights on his room with a cheery, “Good morning!”, then strip the bed of all his covers at which point, he screams at me.
“LET. ME. SLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Why, oh why, is this such a struggle every morning?
Perhaps I should be putting them all to bed by six in the evening.
T-minus 35 minutes and counting.
Get kids dressed.
Which 3 of the 4 can do quite well now on their own.
But, one child claims he doesn’t know how to.
Which, of course, he can.
He just doesn’t want to.
And, he’d rather bury his face in the sofa chair and cry about it rather than unzipping his sleeper to get the process going.
And while this hysterical scene is going on, another kid cries he can’t find matching socks.
And another one can’t find one shoe.
“Well, shouldn’t it be where it belongs?”I half whine.
T-minus 25 minutes and counting.
And, I’m already feeling like I need some help around here.
So, I try to stay on track without losing it.
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
Time for make the
And time to pray that the children arrive to the table without their pajamas on.
One child wants this bowl.
Another child wants that spoon.
This one wants this cereal, this one wants that one.
I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I Am.
And this one just complains, “There’s nothing ever to eat for breakfast in this house!”
So, naturally, he goes to the refrigerator, opens it, and stands there.
What dear G-d is going on in his mind?
Invariably, he shuts the refrigerator door and returns to the table empty handed with a droopy face.
T-minus 15 minutes and counting.
As I continue with the morning routine, pouring second helpings of cereal, picking up dropped spoons, cleaning up spilled milk, filling up cups of water, I turn to look at the empty lunch boxes that need to be filled.
One child is calling to get his butt wiped.
Why, I don’t know.
But, he still asks, and I still acquiesce.
The lunches need to be made!!!
And I’m running out of time!
T-minus 10 minutes and counting.
3 elementary school lunches! (Or, as it were in Israel, the 10 o’clock meals).
Which consist of a sandwich and a fruit/vegetable on the side.
And, of course, this one wants a pita and this one wants a roll.
This one wants tahini and this one hates tahini.
This one prefers peanut butter and this one only wants jelly.
And I’m about to tear my hair out.
I look up again calling out to my husband.
I’m going a little crazy down here.
And would love some help.
I’m running out of time.
They’re going to miss the bus!!
T-minus 5 minutes and counting.
As I frantically put the lunches in each school bag, and notice some of the kids are still half dressed and some have dried milk all over their mouths and one can’t find his kippah, and the other still can’t find his lost shoe, and, and…
And I’m literally feeling like I’m going to lose it…
Guess who shows up?
Cool as a cat.
Showered, dressed, and having undisturbed bathroom time.
With not an ounce of stress in his body.
Smiling ear to ear.
And, instead of hearing “Good morning, honey. What can I do to help?”
I hear, “I just put a load of laundry in.”
Which in other words means, “Soon after you get the kids off to school, you’ll have to hang the laundry (since we don’t have a drying machine) before you start your work.” (I work from home.)
I couldn’t handle hearing that.
I didn’t want to hear that.
I started to cry.
And he started at me as if I were crazy.
“Are you ok? I just said I turned the laundry machine on.”
And, I started to attack.
“Laundry? How can I think of laundry? I’ve got 3 kids needing to get to the bus, another kid needing to get to gan, lunches half made, bags not ready, a kitchen full of dishes…
And you’re talking about laundry?????”
SHARE MY STRESS WON’T YOU??!?
Yes, I got stuck.
But, only for a few minutes.
Because once the kids left and I calmed down (read: once I stopped ranting and raving), and I took a deep breath, I was able to acknowledge what was underneath all of this.
My frustration that my husband is not sharing in my stress.
And, at the time, I really felt I wanted him to be participating in my stress.
Because, as my kids remind me, it’s not fair!!!!
Why should I be carrying all the morning stress alone?
Whoever claimed this was my role?
But, I came to another perspective.
I don’t really want my husband to share my stress.
He’s got enough of it of his own, with his business, and with supporting a family of six.
And he certainly wouldn’t want me to share the stress that he has in his life.
And so instead, I asked him to help me figure out a way to lower the morning stress that’s in our household every morning.
To which we brainstormed together:
Wake the kids up earlier.
Pick out their clothes (and socks and shoes) before they go to bed and make sure their bags are ready to go the night before.
Remind them that the chalkboard hanging in the kitchen is there for a reason. If there’s a food they want in the house and we don’t have it, take responsibility and write it down. Most likely, we’ll pick it up (as long as it’s not some utterly bad for your health processed food with 1,000 ingredients in it).
Encourage self-care (and remind them that if they know how to wipe their butt in their own in kindgergarten, they can certainly wipe their butt at home).
Which is what I did.
And after this processing experience, life became a lot less stressful in the mornings.
And now I’m able to respond to the “I just put a load of laundry in” with a half chuckle, smile, and a hug.
and And I love you right up to the moon. AND BACK.