Just an­other manic morn­ing

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

When I thought about hav­ing two chil­dren, the idea of stress­ful morn­ings is what scared me most.

They’re just hard, you know? In­her­ently. With or with­out kids or pets or the need to set an alarm clock. I was a fairly early riser when Spencer and I mar­ried, but the ex­haus­tion that ac­com­pa­nies lis­ten­ing to tiny crea­tures stir in the night has sucked any en­thu­si­asm out of me.

It’s funny how, in just a short time, par­ent­hood sweeps clean so many of your pre-child mem­o­ries. What did I used to do in the evenings, back when I had no bot­tles to scrub or trac­tor videos to watch? I re­mem­ber . . . a lit­tle. I wrote. Read. Watched de­cid­edly grown-up tele­vi­sion dra­mas. Helped Spencer with home projects, paint­ing and or­ga­niz­ing and clean­ing up at our new house.

Morn­ings were sim­i­larly calm. I’d have some break­fast, tidy up a bit, scroll mind­lessly through Face­book and In­sta­gram. Now? A wise friend once told me that hav­ing “a sched­ule” with your kids is great — but as soon as you’ve cracked their rou­tines, they’ll change. Overnight.

That’s def­i­nitely true for us. I have al­ways han­dled day care drop-off while Spencer co­or­di­nates pick-up, so morn­ings are my ter­ri­tory — and it’s been rocky. When my son first came home, I had ter­ri­ble anx­i­ety think­ing if I left Ol­lie alone for even a minute, some­thing “bad” would hap­pen to him. Show­er­ing be­came a source of frus­tra­tion, wor­ry­ing he would scream when I couldn’t reach him.

Some of that was new-par­ent anx­i­ety. The rest was plain ol’ anx­i­ety-anx­i­ety. Ei­ther way, I do think I’m a much calmer mom of two — and was cer­tainly in a bet­ter place at Hadley’s ar­rival than I was in the af­ter­math of Ol­lie’s.

De­spite the chal­lenge of an early wake-up call af­ter very lit­tle sleep, Oliver and I had a good pat­tern go­ing. I knew when to ex­pect his eyes to open and would have milk — his con­stant re­quest — wait­ing for him down­stairs. We’d watch 20 min­utes of “The Mup­pets,” I’d pack his lunch and carry him out, get­ting him set­tled at his babysit­ter’s be­fore mak­ing the short drive north for cof­fee be­fore the work day of­fi­cially be­gan. Sim­ple.

Baby Hadley changed ev­ery­thing again. I was le­git­i­mately fright­ened when Spencer had to go back to work fol­low­ing her birth, won­der­ing how I could bal­ance the needs of both kids si­mul­ta­ne­ously. I was used to giv­ing Oliver all of my love and at­ten­tion, and the guilt that came when I couldn’t was painful.

At first, any­way. As with so many changes, we all ad­justed. There have cer­tainly been tough days (days when I met my hus­band at the door, pass­ing off one or both chil­dren be­fore col­laps­ing some­where they were less likely to find me), and I wouldn’t min­i­mize those. But on the whole? Hav­ing two kids — and get­ting two kids ready — hasn’t been nearly as rough as I’d ex­pected.

That’s true of many new ex­pe­ri­ences, I think.

When I re­turned to work full­time in May, ne­go­ti­at­ing the lo­gis­tics of the morn­ing rou­tine was stress­ful. It was one thing to re­sume my job du­ties . . . and quite an­other to get to said job, par­tic­u­larly on time.

But we’ve man­aged it. As Ol­lie has got­ten older, he walks him­self to the car each day. The bot­tle of milk has been re­placed with a cup of ap­ple juice, and I’ve learned I can bribe him into be­ing lifted into his car seat with the promise of mini-muffins.

I look like a frizzy-haired pack­mule each morn­ing, try­ing to take ev­ery­thing out to my ve­hi­cle at once: Ol­lie’s lunch bag, Hadley’s bot­tle bag, my own tote plus my purse. Add in a trea­sured blan­ket and Hadley her­self — all 15 pounds of her — in her car seat, which I tuck awk­wardly into the crook of one arm, and I’m a woman on a mis­sion try­ing to load ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing in be­fore 7:30 a.m.

I’d man­aged to wran­gle my chil­dren into some­thing of a rou­tine, of­fer­ing bot­tles and break­fast — de­pend­ing on the kiddo, of course — in a pre­dictable pat­tern. My tran­si­tion to work­ing mom of two was chug­ging along nicely, ev­ery­one get­ting into a groove . . . And then I switched jobs. Noth­ing like sev­eral ma­jor life changes within a few months to re­ally spice things up, you know?

I’m still in charge of day care drop-off, but my com­mute has in­creased from a 15-minute drive to 40-minute slog. Still in South­ern Mary­land, yes, so I know I shouldn’t com­plain — but it’s a big change for this Wal­dorf girl. Hav­ing lived and worked only in Charles County, I’m now ven­tur­ing into a fairly new-to-me area. Thank good­ness for au­dio books to keep me com­pany.

My longer drive has meant ear­lier morn­ings, so I rise by 5:30 a.m. to get ready be­fore my hus­band leaves for work. Know­ing he’s lis­ten­ing for the kids while I shower has eased the knot in my stom­ach. Some­thing about be­ing stuck in a bath­room — where I can’t hear well or exit quickly — has al­ways both­ered me.

Given we’re now out the door at least a half hour ear­lier than be­fore, I’d say the kids and I have ad­justed pretty well. I was ner­vous to make an al­ready long day more com­pli­cated, but it hasn’t been nearly the dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion I’d ex­pected.

Those mini-muffins — Ol­lie bait — re­ally are a life­saver. I can hus­tle the kid any­where with the promise of choco­late chip-stud­ded car­bo­hy­drates.

Come to think of it . . . that works for me, too.

But only chased down by cof­fee. I still have my rou­tines.

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