Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I need a do-over

In the college class I’m co-teaching, “Essentials of College Study”, we cover all sorts of wonderful topics that would make anyone a better student and, in general, a more efficient human being. Since the semester began, we’ve helped our students discover their learning styles, taught them how to use their time more efficiently and how to read more effectively. I did a fun unit on memory and how to retrieve information from your brain when you need it and now I’m teaching them about note taking (YAWN) and taking responsibility for yourself (SOMEONE HAS TO!)

All of these techniques and skills have some things in common – they insist that the student is motivated and that they are organized. WHO WOULDN’T BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN LIFE IF THEY COULD BE THIS WAY!

I’m sitting at my desk at school writing this, instead of planning for today’s lecture, because I’m still winding down from my morning BEFORE I left for work. It’s mid-morning and I’m still frazzled. As I prepare to tell my students, this afternoon, how to organize the things they hear in a lecture into legible graphic organizers, I am feeling hypocritical. I can’t organize my sock drawer, let alone my lesson plan or work priorities.

This morning I turned off the alarm at 5:00 AM and fell back asleep until 5:08 AM. Not a big deal, but enough to throw me off a bit. I jumped up and grabbed my bike shorts, etc. and went into the bathroom to change. I decided that I was too tired to put my contacts in at that moment and went to the kitchen to get some water and a graham cracker. I turned on my laptop and checked many of my favorite blogs and the news. Out of character, I thought of a cute little post and proceeded to enter it. It didn’t post right and I fussed for about 5 minutes until I realized how late I was. At 5:45, which is when I’m normally in my car, I ran into the bathroom and realized that I still had to put in my contacts, pull my hair back and fill my water bottle.

I made it to my spinning class on time, but was a tad flustered. I was home at 7:04 and the kids were just coming out of their room. The starting gun had fired.

Harry: “Moooommmm? Ella is getting out of bed even though she’s sick.” (Ella has a bad cough, and because she has asthma, we take her to the doctor often. Harry went with yesterday.)


Me: “It’s ok – it’s time to get up anyway.”

Milk was put in sippy cups and the two were sent to the TV to watch cartoons so that I could get ready for work. I then picked out their outfits and laid them on their beds. It’s now about 7:11 AM and I hear Chris starting the shower. “HEY! I need to get in there first,” I screamed. “I’ve been out here doing SELFLESS things and … well…let me go first.” I got my way and took a really fast shower followed by a quick application of minimal makeup.

At this point, I am trying not to be mad at Chris. He has been working really late hours lately and needed to sleep in a bit. I raced into the kitchen and started making three lunches. Of course, I try to incorporate all the food groups and won’t buy those pre-packaged snack-able thingys. I started cursing myself for that. Washing pea pods and cutting apples into slices is FOR THE BIRDS on days like today. At 7:28 AM, I’m somewhere in the middle of the lunch making process, when I realize that the kids are not dressed. I turn off Mr. Rogers and tell them to get dressed before the TV will come back on. Ella doesn’t like her shirt. “I want the one with the flowers!” “This one?” “No.” “This one?” “No.” “This one?” “No.” It was at this point that I lost it. I still had no idea what I was wearing today. My hair was sopping wet. My kids hadn’t eaten breakfast and the backpacks weren’t even organized yet. I had a melt down and grabbed EVERY shirt in Ella’s drawer and threw them on her bed and the floor. It took me three handfuls to empty the drawer. With a crazed look in my eye, I screamed, “PICK ANY SHIRT YOU WANT – I REALLY DON’T CARE.” Harrison knew this was his moment. For once, he was the “good” child. The compliant child. “Look Mommy! I’m all dressed.” It was a scene that I never want to see again. I was thankful that Chris was still in the bathroom with the fan on and couldn’t hear me.

I walked out of their room and finished the lunches, got myself dressed, and started drying my hair. I really thought I had more time, but when I went to put shoes on the kids, I noticed the clock – 7:58 AM. I need to be on the road at 8:00 to get to work at 8:30. I am ALWAYS the last one to arrive. I turned off “Arthur” and tried to calm my voice while I whisper-screamed orders to my two kids: “Get your coats on! Let me tie that shoe again!” “No – you can’t have any more cereal. We’re out of time.”
The coffee (an absolutely NECESSARY companion for my morning commute) was still brewing as I raced out the door with Harrison’s coat and backpack. I noticed, at the end of the driveway, that I had forgotten his lunch. I ran up the driveway to the back door and into the kitchen. No lunch. Chris was at the front door yelling to Harry to come and grab his lunch. I raced out the front door, practically knocking Chris over, and grabbed the lunch like a runner grabs a baton in a relay race. We ran down the sidewalk to the neighbor’s with Ella right behind us - a bowl of cereal and a spoon in tow. I rang their doorbell, tried to be cordial, but ran back with Ella as fast as I could.

As I entered the kitchen again, I grabbed my stuff and screamed for Chris to move the van out of the way of my car. (We have a huge garage that could hold our cars, but we prefer giving our plastic swimming pools plenty of room to breathe and let them occupy the garage, so our cars sit single file in the driveway.) I ran out to the car and had to turn right around to get coffee. I have become an expert at pouring my coffee into a travel mug while simultaneously carrying a laptop backpack, purse and lunch bag on individual fingers in one hand so that I can hold my keys in the other and open doors.

As I finally proceeded down the street at 8:09 AM, I was breathing hard. My phone rang when I was about three blocks away. I had forgotten some papers I wanted to bring today, but I just didn’t have the time or energy to turn around again.

I do realize how I can make my mornings run more smoothly. I KNOW that I can lay out clothes the night before. I KNOW that I could make lunches the night before – or prepackage the lunch dry goods on Sunday for the week. I KNOW that I could use my time while I’m waking up, before exercising, more effectively. What I don’t know is how to find energy to do all that at night. My peak energy period is morning. I don’t have a lot of energy at that time, but I definitely have more than after a long day of work, making dinner, giving baths or running errands. By 9:00 PM, I am done.

Chris announced to me, somewhere in the middle of all the chaos of this morning, that he would be working late tonight. I cannot wait to finish my day, pick up the kids, make them dinner, clean up the mess from last night, this morning and tonight in the kitchen and then fall on the couch for whatever drama or HGTV program interests me.

The cycle of life, right now, is tedious. I’m finishing this post in class while I let my students work on an essay I assigned. I asked them to analyze this quote: “Good or bad, everything we do is our best choice at that moment.” Dr. William Glasser. The assignment is an exercise that has them delve into the concept of self-responsibility. I probably need to write an essay myself. I think we all need reminders about this once in awhile. It’s very easy to lay blame or make excuses. Here’s to a better tomorrow!

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