The Morning Rat Race of a Working Mama

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It’s 5:15 am, and my dreaded alarm starts to go off. Most days, I hit the snooze button once or twice before dragging myself out of bed. I go straight into the shower for ten minutes of calm and relaxation before the circus begins. If I’m lucky, I get to enjoy the full extent of my shower without interruption. However, on many occasions, the bathroom door swings open, and one of my tiny humans appears, and my “job” begins for the day.

I have always been slightly envious of my husband because, in the mornings, he is primarily responsible for getting himself up and ready to go, as he leaves at least 30 minutes before I do. He leisurely gets dressed and walks out the door by 6:15 while I am usually upstairs corralling the cattle (aka my two preschoolers). While I know that due to our scheduling, there’s really no other way to go about the mornings, I still can’t help but be jealous that he gets to start his day peacefully while I am usually trying to wrangle a tiger, put out five dumpster fires, feed the beasts and get everyone out the door with an attempt to make it to work on time. 

Now it’s 6:15 am. Both kids are usually up by this time, which sounds like a win. However, regardless if we pick out clothes the night before, one or both must swap out their chosen ensembles for God-knows-what reasons (preschooler logic doesn’t exist), which often turns into an argument even though I’ve sworn I won’t fight those battles anymore. My newest technique has been to set a timer for the kids to know when they should be downstairs to eat breakfast. The timer works most of the time for my daughter. Who knows that when it goes off, it’s time for muffins or cereal or granola bars and fruit, whatever her breakfast of choice is on that day. On the other hand, my firstborn son is easily distracted and gets into playing with something, forgetting that the timer has even gone off. This then begins the battle of going upstairs to get him or yelling for him 10,432 times to come downstairs and, on occasion, getting in the car and starting to drive off to show him how serious I am (not my proudest parenting moment, but sometimes, you just gotta do something to get through to a hard-headed four-year-old). 

6:35 am. If I’m lucky, both kids are downstairs at this point, half-fed and I ask them to get their lunches in their backpacks and get their shoes on, a fairly simple request that they are more than capable of doing on their own. However, this turns into throwing lunch boxes across the foyer at one another, a debate over weather-appropriate footwear, a discovery of toys that have been hidden for months, and several other tasks not on their “to-do” list. Then comes the battle of getting both kids in their car seats. Mind you, they are both fully able to get themselves in and buckled 100% on their own, but of course want my help on the most chaotic mornings, just adding to my stress level. To be transparent, there have been many times that I’ve lost my marbles on them during this part of the morning–yelling from frustration, making totally unreasonable threats and plenty of other not-so-proud mom moments. 

6:48 am. Both kids are buckled in the car, except my daughter just spilled her entire water bottle all over herself and is screaming bloody murder that she needs to change. I then go back in the house, get her a change of clothes, and while I’m doing that, my sneaky son decides to get out of his seat and hide in the way back of my van. When I get back and start helping my daughter change into dry clothes, my son refuses to come back up into his seat, so I get in and start to drive, which then causes him to melt down because he knows he can’t be in the car without being in his seat. Are you getting the mental image of all of this? 

7:08 am. We finally arrive at the kids’ preschool, but not without an argument over which song to listen to, a realization that we don’t have time for donuts or Chick-Fil-A this morning, and a screaming match over why mommy can’t drive with the lights on inside the car. Pull up to the curb, gather the backpacks, jackets, and shoes that have been taken off, and head into school. Sign the kids in, give at least seven hugs and kisses, wave goodbye, and get back into my quiet, kid-free car. Deep breath. I made it. 

The next ten minutes or so is probably what saves me most days from going insane. I turn on some of “my music,” take a few deep breaths and leisurely drive to my school. I often am caught between being so frustrated and annoyed and then also so thankful and proud. Motherhood is often a balancing act like that. 

7:22 am. I arrive at my school with eight minutes to spare, walk into my classroom, unpack my stuff and start my day as I prepare to teach the world’s youth. I’ve often compared the morning routine of getting myself and the kids up and out the door to running a marathon (I’ve never done one, but I know what I imagine it would be like) because it is totally exhausting and draining. And then, after all that, I still have a seven-hour work day that I need to complete. My job as a teacher is one that I have to be “on” most of the day; I don’t get to hide in a cubicle or behind a phone or computer screen. I am on stage all day long and often think people might understand me just a little bit more if I were to wear a GoPro camera for the start of my day and see just what a working mom goes through before she even arrives at work. 

So the next time one of your co-workers comes in late to a meeting or looks like she was hit by a truck when she first arrives at work, just remember she may have already run a marathon that morning and give her a little bit of grace.

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