Monday, August 20, 2012

A "Real Life" First Day of School

I started a cute post last night about all of my back to school preparations. I was so proud of my new allowance jar system and the laminated morning lists I had made--both to reduce Mommy nagging and teach responsibility. Backpacks and shoes were all lined up in my new mudroom. I even ironed uniforms (a hot dryer is our usual MO) and had them hanging in bedrooms ready to wear. No more Unglued Mama mornings for me! It was going to be smooth as silk.

I got up early (not my forte) and made muffins, sausage and scrambled eggs when my husband left for work. Susie Homemaker was in the house! How could it not be an awesome first day? My kids were going to look crisp, have full tummies and be loved up and confident for their first day.

And then, real life entered the picture.

My moodiest child came downstairs under a dark cloud. I chirped "Good morning!" and was greeted with a growl. He took one look at breakfast and started crying. Awesome. I will spare you the details of what transpired over the next few minutes, but he was ultimately sent back up to his room to restart his day with a different attitude. One child crying by 6:45am. Not exactly what I'd planned.

We hustled and bustled through bed making, hair grooming and getting our acts together as the clock ticked towards 7:35. As we were all heading for the back door as scheduled, K was still in sock feet.
"Where are you shoes?"
"I don't know...I've looked everywhere and can't find them." Her lip quivered. Crying child #2 by 7:30. I was on a roll!

As we were buckling in R decided the snack he packed yesterday was absolutely not what he wanted today and tearfully begged to go back inside the locked house and trade it. I had to make a choice between 'insuring' he was happy/had a smooth start and sticking to my guns about choices and responsibility. This was not in my plan!!

When we got to school P realized his water bottle had made it to his mud room locker, but not to his backpack. And despite all of my planning, traffic and other snags had us running into school as the bell rang. I snapped one photo...

(a pretty accurate person-by-person account of how everyone was feeling seconds before entering their classrooms)

They darted into their rooms. I didn't get to tell them how much I loved them. I didn't even get a hug. They were off.

To top things off, as we walked back to the car, I was snippy with my husband--who had pushed back his cases, gone in extra early and rearranged his day to be present. Within the safety of our car, I cried an ugly cry. I couldn't even explain why, but I was overwhelmed with disappointment. Despite my preparations, we'd had a bumpy start. I had such high expectations, but wound up feeling like a Grade A Mommy failure. I wanted a fairy tale morning and I got real life.

But you know that the great thing about my real life is? I have a loving husband who sat and listened to me sob before reminding me of wise truth. He pointed out that the kids didn't have nearly the morning I did. They were tucked away in their classrooms with their friends and great teachers. They were excited to be wearing new tennis shoes and learning all the ropes of being a 2nd grader. They KNOW they are loved. They are learning responsibility the way 8 year olds learn, by making mistakes and trying again the next day. He concluded by assuring me they were NOT rehashing the morning beating themselves up over lost shoes and being 10 minutes behind schedule.

This is one day. Godwilling, we have hundreds more this year....some will be fantastic and most will be imperfect. This is life.

I looked across at him and through my tears said, "Why are you so loving, calm and wise when you are married to such a mess?"
He grinned and teasingly said, "Because we'd be in real trouble if we both went crazy."

I came home to a cup of coffee, a quiet house desperately in need of cleaning, one more good cry, humble prayer and a couple of authentic phone chats with women I love. Real life is unpredictable--it's why real community and real faith are essential.  Let's not forget to continue encouraging one another to keep our focus on what really matters--the marathon--rather than becoming defeated over a few stumbles along the way. The measure of a Mom...of any person, not one chaotic morning.

Thank you, Lord, for that!

UPDATED after school:
As predicted, they got in the car and unanimously answered my daily questions-- the best part was 'everything' and the worst part was 'nothing.'

I am pretty sure Mom learned the most of all today.


Daily Tales of Sugar and Spice said...

love it. well, i don't love you had a rough morning - but i love how beautifully you describe real life. i just listened to part 1 and part 2 of future family by andy. he so beautifully describes the tension of the ideal family and what society is pushing as normal. i say keep striving for ideal and you've got one amazing family. even with these tiny bumps. you are extraordinary moms and they will be extraordinary kids. andy encouraged that Jesus was comfortable in the tension and i have to be too. xoxo courtney

Lil Light O Mine said...

not sure why my old blog thing is on there - it's me, courtney defeo. ;)

MamaBear said...

I have a feeling I'll be needing to remember this post in a week. I have been slowly getting things prepped and ready so we can have a smooth transition to school. Backpacks are ready, shoes are packed, and they are back to doing chores every day after I let them slack over the summer. We are even being very specific about our menu for all three meals every day so they know ahead of time what to expect (a huge help in our house!) and yet....I can see this happening to us. Thank you for reminding me to keep my expectations in check and to keep plugging along - mothering is a marathon, not a sprint.

Happy first day of school! I'm excited to see what 2nd grade (and Kindergarten) will bring this year!

The Niemeyer Nest said...

It's always so disappointing when our day does not go the way we anticipated! Hope your kids had a great first day of school. Your husband sounds like a gem and I agree that your children probably did not worry one little minute over the morning chaos. Enjoy some quiet time in your house!

Danielle said...

I am amazed and grateful (not that you had to go through it per se) that your life so often resembles my own...and I was praying for all of you this morning when I saw the first fb pic! Our first day was very similar and I had prepared our environment and my heart (so I thought) for such a different scenario than actually ocurred. I am constantly being reminded that my expectations are often what lead to my disappointment as I am not flexible enough (yet) to roll with it when MY plan goes completely awry. The lessons I continue to learn about myself on this journey are sometimes humorous, often painful and always wrought with overthinking and self examination. May they be learned with a minimum negative impact on my childrens' precious hearts. Praying for a smoother afternoon for both of us ;)

Lisa said...

Press on, mighty warrior! From one mama to another, you are doing a great job and may I assure you, the mornings at our house are never the way I have them planned either. With one middle schooler and one second grader (and two different start times for school) it is just extended! Praying for all of us mamas doing the best we can.....

dgmomof3 said...

Thanks so much for sharing, it is so nice to read honest portrayals, and not the pinterest-type portrayal. No matter where we are, mom's lives have so much in common!

RunNTeach said...

thank you so much for posting this..had one of those days..actually in the midst of it as my newborn is crying in the background and I am in serious need of Jesus time and a nap..thank you for reminding me that "this too shall pass"-until the next time..Thank you Lord for your mercy, grace, and peace!

Mindy said...

OH, my word can I relate with this.
There are many a day when I wonder how things got "so out of control"......add in the fact that I have a very hormanal (read EMOTIONAL) pre teen and things get that way quickly.
Yesterday and this morning it was about her hair.
whew. I really do feel these preteen/teen years are going to do me in if I don't figure out some better way of dealing with things.
Thank the LORD for grace, grace and more grace......and another day to try again tomorrow.

Laurie Hilsinger said...

Thank you so much for sharing your "real life!" Such a blessing and encouragement to me - another mommy wearing the same shoes. :) Just now, I am reminded of the saying, "we plan and God laughs." It never feels funny when it's happening, though...have to pray about that one.