If you are a mother and you have never completely lost your shit by 7:30 a.m., do not read any further. There is something seriously wrong with you. Call 911. The firemen should come and save you from the Donna Reed Show in which you are trapped.
The rest of you, read on.
It was a Monday. 6 a.m. I stumbled out of bed, walking blindly over freshly packed boxes, to wake both of our sons for school. I shouted into Jimmy’s room first and then into Tony’s. Then I turned and promptly fell face first over the box my head knew was there but that my feet had forgotten existed. More worried that my nightgown had flown up when I fell, I took the time to push it down before getting up. Rosie, our dog, waddled over and gave me a discerning sniff, and attempted to climb over me as I–and the boxes– were blocking her path to the stairs. Not, however, before she accidentally stepped on my nipple, pinching it between her foot and the floor.
As I lay on the floor clutching my poor, bruised nip, and cursing the God that gave me boobs bigger than anyone ever wants, Tony came out of his room, arms wrapped around his stomach.
“I don’t feel good, Mom.”
“Maybe you’ll feel better once you eat,” I said, getting to my feet. Tony suffers from migraines and not feeling well in the morning is old hat for us. We muddle through the best we can.
As he walked solemnly downstairs, my brain registered that there was no movement in Jimmy’s room.
“James Peter! Get up! Don’t make me get the squirt bottle!”
Tony was eating some chocolate flavored, sugared confection in milk when I came downstairs.
“Uh, you probably should have opted for toast, Baloney Man. Cereal might not settle the tummy too much.”
He looked at me with eyes that looked ringed in shoe polish.
“You know what? Just go upstairs and get your book bag. Collect all the papers you need turned in into groups and I’ll drop them off on my way to take Jimmy to school.”
Tony got up and did as he was told.
When I still didn’t hear signs of life upstairs, I yelled, “JAMES PETER! SO HELP ME!”
“Mphm, mph,” he said.
With an eyeroll, I looked up Tony’s teachers’ names on the school website, writing each one down on a bright pink Post It. Tony spread his papers out on the floor in front of him just before stopping cold in his tracks. He looked at me with huge eyes and made a mad dash for the trash can.
(FYI, regurgitated Cocoa Puffs look just like crap coming out of your kid’s mouth. Don’t look.)
Whenever someone pukes, I rush into a flurry of action, grabbing a towel and dipping it in cool water to wipe their faces and necks with. The world gets a little swimmy around me as I try to fight off passing out. I have no idea why I do this, but I do.
Ushering Tony downstairs to lay on the couch, I try to make sense of the sloppy papers he flung all over in his run for the kitchen. Jimmy comes downstairs and immediately starts complaining.
“Why is Tony’s crap all over the floor?”
“Your brother is sick and I’m trying to make heads or tails out of this mess so I can turn his work in when I drop you off.”
“Great! That cuts into my visiting time before school. We’ll need to leave by 7 a.m. to get enough time.”
At this I took a deep breath and, in my best Stuart Smalley voice, told myself to pick my battles, cuz, “goshdarnit, he likes me.”
I stapled all the papers in their piles and sat down to begin emailing Tony’s teachers. That’s when I smelled beef cooking.
“Jimmy, what are you eating for breakfast?”
“James Peter that was supposed to be for dinner tonight!”
“Not anymore,” he said, shoveling a hearty helping of beef into his mouth.
Then I heard Tony throwing up for the second time and the world got all swimmy again. As I rolled my chair away from my desk, I accidentally paid Rosie back by rolling over her tail. I screamed because her yelp scared me and she ran off like her butt was attacking her.
“Mom, if you don’t hurry we’ll be late.”
“Jimmy, I have to email his teachers.”
“Mooom. Come on.”
I finished up the emails and we darted out the door. As I was pulling out of the driveway, I realized that I never changed clothes and I was still in my nightgown and bra-less.
“Jimmy, I’m going to zip over to Tony’s school and you will have to run these in to the office for me.”
After getting Jimmy dropped off, I shuffled home, hoping that Tony was resting.
I walked through the door to find Tony in tears at the dining room table.
“Mom, Dad came home is making me do chores this morning.”
Just then I hear Jim in the kitchen saying, “Why does it look like someone took a shit in the trash can?”
“Tony, go to bed. I’ll talk to Dad,” I said as I walked into the kitchen, dodging more packed boxes and wishing to myself that moving day was closer.
“Babe, you’re still in your nightgown.” He looked me over from head to toe. “And your hair…wow.”
“I know,” I said, running my hand through my hair.
“Oh, hey. The loan people called. There’s a problem with the closing date. It’s been extended.”
And that’s when Niagara Falls entered my kitchen by way of my tear ducts. Then Jim did a dumb thing. He asked, “What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” The voice of Satan exited my mouth at 90 miles an hour. “Tony is throwing up, and Jimmy is complaining and eating our dinner for breakfast, and the dog is hurting me, and I’m hurting the dog, and I’m tripping over fucking boxes, and trying to email teachers and drop off papers, and forgetting to get dressed much less comb my damn hair, and I come home to you wondering about the shit in the trash and telling me how not-so-beautiful I am and dropping the bomb on me that we aren’t moving as soon as we thought. All this in one hour this morning. One goddamn hour! I can’t make anyone here happy!” I collapsed onto the floor like a two-year old, snot running down my face, but cleverly mixed in with the tears.
Jim knelt on the floor next to me and let me cry for a few minutes. When it seemed safe to proceed, he said, “Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah, I just need to blow my nose,” I whimper.
He got up and got me a tissue.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“It’s okay. Tough morning, huh?’
He scooted closer and held me.
“Can I just go back to bed and start again in an hour?”
“Yep. We can do that,” he said.
Later, at dinner, Tony was feeling better and picking at Jimmy. Jimmy was threatening to shove his head in the toilet. I was yelling at them both to knock it off.
Jim was finishing up and getting his work clothes packed to go to work.
“Can I just go to work for you today?” I asked. “You can stay here and do what I do all night. I’ll go learn how to be a steel worker.”
“Uh, after what I saw this morning? Not on your life. I wouldn’t have cried once everything was done. I’d have killed somebody. I’ll take molten steel over this zoo any day.”
I laughed. “I don’t remember meltdowns being in my job description.”
Then, I thought, the next time I have a morning like that, I’m definitely lobbying for hazard pay.