“Mommy, I’m stressed.”
And with that, I stopped dead in my tracks.
It had been a crazy morning. My husband flew in late last night from a business trip which woke me up and left me with a fitful night of rest. He was, understandably, wired after his trip and tossing and turning until morning. The kids slept in and we were scrambling to get everyone up, fed, dressed and out the door in only 24 minutes or so to have a hope of barely making it on time.
A crazy morning.
I was barking at them more than I typically do in the morning. We try really hard to keep that time calm on most days. We sip our coffee, we play Miles Davis, we work efficiently but quietly to get our tasks on track for the day. I pride myself in trying to start my kids out on a mellow foot each morning. Once they are out on that school yard, in that big, busy world, I can’t control their environment. At home, in the morning, I can. And I like to think it sets them up for a day of success.
But on this morning, this crazy morning, I wasn’t doing that. We were all tired and their lunch boxes were nowhere to be found, even though their only task after school is to put them away in the pantry. The jeans were in the laundry and of course, he couldn’t wear the other ones. The sock was missing. The dog was restless. The milk was spilled. And I found myself barking at them every minute of our 24 – hurry up! Go brush your teeth! What is taking so long?? You’re going to be late!
And at minute 29 (or so), she sat down on the stairs to put on her shoes. The car was running in the driveway, ready to whisk them away. The lunch box was finally packed and perched on its own step, ready to be grabbed. The shoes sat there, waiting. In double knots.
“My shoes are in double knots,” she said, her voice shaking from the pressure. “They’re in double knots and I can’t get them undone and I hate double knots…and mommy, I am stressed!” Her face crumpled up, ready for tears but holding them back, her fingers fidgeting frantically with those double knots.
“Mommy, I am stressed.”
And with that, I stopped dead in my tracks. I kneeled in front of her and looked her in the eyes and told her it was ok. I would undo her knots. And I would help her tie them back up. I took my time with it, ignoring minute 30 as it came and went. Ignoring the running car engine and the visions of a school bell ringing and an empty yard left behind for only the latecomers. I ignored it all and told her it was ok. All of it.
She relaxed before my eyes, letting the tension fall from her eyes, gathering her backpack and her lunch bag and heading for the door.
“Have a good day, babe,” I said. “Have a good day, ok?”
“I will mommy,” she promised. And off she went.
Minute 33. Only 687 left before bedtime. Need to make them all up to her.