Tina Bartleson mug

Tina Bartleson

It was a “mom-fail” kind of morning. The kind of morning where after the dust settles you end up smacking yourself in the head, wondering what went wrong and wishing you could start all over.

A quick look at my calendar told me that the next morning would be crazy: three kids at two different schools, and the boy needs to make it there before 8 a.m. The hubby is excused from helping as he isn’t feeling well. That’s not a problem… I’ve got this. I’ve got this because I’m a firm believer that smooth mornings actually begin the night before, and I’m prepared. I pull out the breakfast casserole from the freezer to thaw. It can cook the next morning while we leisurely get dressed and make lunches. I’ll add fruit, pop the bread in the toaster and voila, “easy hot breakfast,” Martha Stewart-style. Simple.

In preparation for our big morning, I make sure to lecture my children on the merits of going to bed on time. I need them to jump out of bed when the alarm goes off, no lounging in bed and relishing another five winks. Everyone is in agreement and we have a plan. Simple.

Except I am the one who stays up too late. Then I wake up at 3 (that is a.m.). Sleep eludes me until sometime before the alarm goes off. “Five more winks,” I say. Instead of five, I take 60 and it is now an hour past the original alarm.

At this point, I should have hit the snooze button on my well laid out plans. Instead, I go forward like a bull in a China shop:

Jump out of bed. Rush to the kitchen. Turn on the oven. Put casserole into the oven before oven is hot. Feed the dogs. Throw on clothes. Wake up girls (who have also overslept). The boy, the one who is anxious to get to his meeting at school, is up and dressed already. Toss orders at boy to set the table and help with breakfast. Yell at the girl who wants to wear clothes too cool for the weather. Pull items for lunches. Check on casserole. Turn up heat to casserole. Gather items for work. Check on the casserole (UGH! Still not done). I’m an automaton on a mission. Yell at kids to move faster. Toast the toast. Put casserole on table. Tell stressed kids they have five minutes to gulp down food. Perch my own plate on the sink’s edge as I finish getting ready for work. Throw together lunches while kids brush teeth. Get on to kids for not moving fast enough. Grab coffee for road (which by this time is more important than my own unbrushed teeth). Pile in van. Take wrong way out of our driveway and take the long way to school.

The boy is now late and not very happy about this. Silence and heavy air hang in the car. Ugh. This is chaos and this is my fault. My apologies don’t mean very much right now and I feel pretty small. It is not a good morning. Mom-fail.

This morning is not so bad on the grand continuum of life. It’s just a blip on the screen, a small pothole. Yet I hate to send kids to school with yells and gruffs in their ears as they start a busy day. School is stressful enough without adding stress from a morning gone wrong.

Have you ever had a day like that? A week? A month? Life becomes chaotic at times. We become chaotic at times. When that happens, we must give grace to ourselves and get “back to the basics.” But just what are the “basics?” Magazines and self-help blogs abound with tricks for getting back to the basics and making morning routines easier. But perhaps the “basics” really involve pausing long enough to assess what is going on in the moment. Perhaps the “basics” is just a willingness to hit the reset button, to reevaluate routines and tweak things as needed to accommodate a constantly changing life. Perhaps the “basics” is really about remembering that in the midst of the chaos are people, real people whose feelings and days matter and whose lives are impacted by our words and actions.

There is no doubt that there will be more “‘mom fail” days in my future. Perhaps you will soon have a “mom fail” or “dad fail” kind of day too. Hopefully next time we can stop in the midst of it all to reset and get “back to the basics.”