It always amazes me that at my house, the hours between 3 and 7 p.m. require the planning and precision of a space shuttle launch to run smoothly. Getting one child to and from the places she needs to be, with what she needs to bring and whatever other children I've agreed to take is a chore. Keeping the other child occupied and out of trouble adds a layer. Throw in dinner, homework, baths and bed by 8:00 and I'm doing some serious juggling 4 nights a week. Hubby's new job keeps him gone until after 7 each night, so he's no longer available to help with this routine. These days, I honestly spend half my day preparing for the evening, just so that it can run smoothly and nobody will be stressed. After all, I'm home all day, right?? And our evenings DO go extremely smoothly, for the most part, as long as I stay on top of things.
That brings me to today, and how one 16-minute phone call threw the whole evening out of whack.
The normal routine starts at 3. I leave the house, toddler in tow, and he naps while I pick up kids from school and drive the carpool home. We arrive at 4, at which time my daughter changes into the proper clothes for whatever sport she has that evening and begins her homework while I put the finishing touches on dinner. We eat our meal, grab the bag corresponding to the day's activity (prepacked with everything she needs), bring along something to occupy the little one, and head off. When we return, we have a snack, take baths, lay out clothes for the next day, pack backpacks and put my daughter to bed at 8, then my son a little later. Smooth as silk, right??
Today, the afternoon was humming along nicely. My daughter came home, changed, and got out her homework. I put the chicken in the oven and vegetables on the stove to steam. Around 4:30, the phone rang. With a little time built into my well-oiled machine I answered it, and talked for exactly 16 minutes. I was hanging up when my daughter ran in to tell me my son was throwing water on her. WAIT A MINUTE. Ran in?? From where?? Where was the water?? Well, it was outside in the sandbox, which had filled up from the rain. And my son was right behind her, completely soaked, covered in sand, clothes ruined and with a poopy diaper to boot. I got him cleaned and changed and wait--what's that smell?? The veggies on the stove, burned to a crisp. And who let the neighbor kids in? And why isn't my daughter's homework done? First things first--I took the pan of vegetables and put it outside, then opened all the windows to air out the awful smell. And by now, it's 5:00 and we have to leave in 15 minutes, so who cares abut the chicken. I turn the oven off, shoo the neighbors out and tell my daughter to bring her homework along in the car. On the way out the door, I make the mistake of getting myself a glass of water. Now my son wants a glass of water, but he's having a toddler moment--not THIS cup! THAT one! No, the OTHER one! And finally, happy with the cup, he proceeds to spit the water all over his clothes and the floor lika a fountain. By now, we are late. There is no time to clean it up, so I rush the kids to the car. Backing out, my daughter--homework in lap and realizing Mom might not be in a good mood--asks--do you have a pencil??
WHY WOULD I HAVE A PENCIL???????
I stop the car, go inside, and get a pencil. And in case nobody saw this coming, I run through the kitchen and slip and fall in the water that I didn't have time to clean up. I am so completely frustrated that I actually yell at the top of my lungs--AAAAARRRGH!!!! That makes me feel better for about 2 seconds, until I remember that I had opened the windows and the neighbors were outside.
We made it to swim team a mere 15 minutes late. My daughter jumped in the pool, I kept my son busy, and we were back to our routine.
We stopped at Chick-Fil-A on the way home, maybe just as well since my daughter's school was having a fundraiser there and she had begged to go in the first place. We arrived home at 7:30 to find my husband munching dried-out chicken from the oven, blissfully unaware of the smell of burned vegetables or the water on the floor or the crazy afternoon we'd had. I didn't know whether to hug him or hit him.