Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On a Snowy Tuesday Morning

I woke up at 6am and immediately looked out the window and went out to this computer to see if the children had a delay.  There seems to be rain and ice outside, but no delay.  I needed that delay - I wasn't prepared for this school morning.

In the kitchen, I whisk together a blueberry coffee cake and as it bakes, I take a shower. I run through morning scenarios as I shower because there are, as you will see, lots of variables. As I dress, I hear the baby starting to fuss and it sounds like she still is sick; she had a fever and a runny nose yesterday evening.

It's now 7am and time for the big kids to get up, so as I change Phoebe's diaper (she is crying and definitely feverish so I won't take her on the school walk), I'm exhorting them from the next room over to get up and get going because daddy is sick and sleeping and I need them to be helpful.

While I nurse Phoebe on the sofa, the coffee cake timer goes off and she wails as I set her down on the kitchen floor to check the cake.  Back in the oven it goes and back to the sofa for Phoebe and me.  By this time, Ben and Genevieve are struggling downstairs and mostly awake.  Phoebe fusses with her toys in the kitchen as I make coffee, put away the clean dishes in the dish drainer, and plate coffee cake for the big kids and me, pouring milk (a dash of coffee for Genevieve, please).  I stand at the counter eating bites of cake as I start to pack lunches.  I leave the children in the kitchen to fetch some foccacia and brownies from the freezer in the basement; the sidewalk is turning slick and the rain has turned to heavy snow.  In the kitchen, I peel two clementines for the big kids' lunches and urge them to hurry, to clear their breakfast spots.

I rouse my husband long enough to ask him if he wants to walk the big kids to school or stay home with the sick baby; he was up until 3am meeting a work deadline and he is fighting a cold himself.  He opts to stay home.

It's now 7:30 and Phoebe is very fussy.  I set her up in her high chair and give her a few cheerios.  I mix some yogurt with a squirt of broccoli/pear/peas from a baby food pouch (man, I love that convenience).  I slice more coffee cake, grab my coffee, and sit down at the dining room table with her.  I am surprised by her appetite because she is clearly sick.  I share my coffee cake with her, picking it apart for the cake and blueberries, keeping the nuts on my side.  She is especially fond of the blueberries and picking cheerios off my fork.  I yell up to the big kids to keep dressing because I hear a toy car going across the floor.

Phoebe notices the snow outside the dining room window; she is mesmerized.  I clean her up and we stand at the window while I tell her about snow.  I plunk her on the bed next to her daddy, surrounding her with pillows and toys.

The big kids are now milling around downstairs - I remind Ben to put socks on and he dashes upstairs again.  We cram into the bathroom for teeth brushing, hair brushing, face washing and of course a fight breaks out; I finish my teeth at the kitchen sink and ignore them.  They put on their snow pants, boots, coats, and put their lunches in their back packs.  Genevieve heads out to feed her rabbit, Ben goes to the front porch to wait, and I race around covering the coffee cake, unplugging the coffee, picking up cheerios off the floor, wiping the high chair again and putting it away, checking one more time if there's a snow delay, etc. etc.

We leave for school at 8:20 (this is late), walking a half mile across town.  It's fun, that walk; we chat and I hold Genevieve's bare hand in my mittened one and Ben throws a few snowballs, careful of cars and pedestrians (good boy!). At school, we kiss and hug and I hurry home.  My husband has brought Phoebe out on the sofa to snuggle as she is getting fussy for her morning nap.  He returns to bed and I change her diaper and check her temperature; it's a low-grade fever at this point.

She bounces in her johnny-jumper while I blow dry my hair.  As I return my things to the bedroom, Phoebe on my hip, I manage to smash my finger in the catch of the pocket door as I whirl it closed.  I am whimpering, Phoebe is crying.  I sit her down so I can bandage my bloody finger, lamenting my clumsiness.

I cuddle Phoebe on the sofa and nurse her again, an extra nursing because she is sick.  She struggles with her stuffy nose.  When she is peaceful, I put her in her crib for her nap.

Downstairs, it is 9am and I hurriedly pack my market cart, thankful I made my list yesterday. I put my snow clothes on again and walk down to market.  I fill my cart and walk home.  It is 10am.
The market haul; I'm not taking the time to style it for a photo.  I'm not that kind of blogger.

The house is quiet.  I hang up my dripping coat, bag up the produce, lay out chick peas and beets to roast later, refrigerate the leftover coffee, and sit down to write this post.

I want these details of a fairly ordinary morning at this time in my life.  Let it stand on the record that family life is a lot of work, that I am happy and efficient and busy.  I find times to catch my breath (like this post) and other times I am just exhausted and barely kind to my family.  I also want to remind myself that ordinary family life is consuming right now, even though the general vibe I get in society is that I'm a lightweight, that parenting and housekeeping shouldn't occupy all my time and energy; I don't believe that, but it's tiring to defend myself. The children grow so fast, so I will be with them now and later have outside commitments and paying jobs.  The baby is about to wake up.  I am ravenous.


Christina Gomez said...

I like this post. Real,raw and honest. Keep warm,and take care, christina

Jennifer Jo said...

I absolutely love this post. All the details! (But I found myself wanting a list of what you bought!) And your ending summary about mothering and running a household is so spot-on.

Anonymous said...

Yes, certainly sounds like motherhood to me!

When I'm tired and there are still meals to prepare, lsundry to wash, times tables to practice, I stop and remind myself that creating a home for them is my act if service to show them my love. Even if it involves scrubbing a toilet! They grow so fast you are smart to savor these precious details.

-Kim from Philadelphia

Margo said...

Jennifer, for you, what I bought: 6 fastnachts, garlic bulb, 1 gallon whole local milk, small cube feta cheese, 9 local apples (Gold Rush and Fuji), 2 limes, a lemon, purple cabbage, local watercress, 2 bunches local spring onions, a local purple lettuce, a local green lettuce, local spinach. On the list already for next trip: cilantro, avocados, raw milk, honey.

Alica said...

We had snow here too, and I was looking for a delay this morning, but we got an early dismissal instead. That works! I enjoyed hearing about your morning...life with young kids...and sick kids...and sick hubbies...and going to market. Now that last part sounds especially nice!

Anonymous said...

A simple but beautiful post. Stay at home parents aren't lightweights; they are champions.


Lisa said...

Fascinating, Margo.

Laurie Longenecker said...

I, too, kept doublechecking for a two hour delay announcement. You'll be glad you wrote this down someday.

Polly said...

I love this post! I think that it's so helpful to us as wives/mothers to engage in this sort of recording of daily life from time to time, because we can see how much we do, and take a breath, and also....for later. When children are grown, or a daughter has her own babies and is trying to manage a young family....it's good to see that we're all in it together!

AyrieJoyce said...

What a great post! I had a similar day yesterday (minus the baby). I think you should make this a regular feature. I might do the same. After all, isn't blogging for most of us really about keeping a record of what life was like. Hope everyone is better and today is less frenetic.

Zoë said...

Best daily life post I've ever read. So true and also inspiring!

MDiskin said...

I love this. We had to leave the house at 7:15 to get to school last year! So hard. (We're no longer there.)

Mothering and being home is both exhausting and rewarding. In the get-out and go-to-bed times, when they're this young, it's like you're living 3 little lives in addition to your own - the teeth brushing, hair, feeding, cleaning up, doctoring.... I think I blow dry my hair about twice a year, so I'm impressed just by that!! :)

And what is it about sibling fights at tooth-brushing time? I don't get it. I would give my right arm for tiny nanobots to clean my kids teeth without having to get out toothpaste and all the rest of it!

A said...

Dearest--I'm so sorry to hear sickness fell on your house by Sunday! This is a very good portrait of what a morning is like. Thank you for sharing. It will make me feel less bad about our rushed and, more often than not, snappy mornings.

Though I still hold guilt when the destination of those mornings is church, and my voice is raised on the first end of the trip, immediately switched to a sunny smile as we tumble out the car doors on the other end. I recall Sunday mornings like that when I was a kid too.

Bless you and your flurried mornings, coffee cakes and teaching a baby about snow. xo

Becky said...

I have one - ONE - child and I find family life to be exhausting and consuming.
Raising decent human beings is a much better legacy than just about any other job. It might not pay in material rewards, but it pays in so many other ways. As my daughter said, oh so wisely, when she was 6, "Babies need a lot of time. When you have a baby, all you can do is HAVE a baby." I think she nailed it.

I like that you're the sort of blogger who doesn't style her market haul pictures. Who has time for that?

Margo said...

A, I agree about Sunday mornings!! Or answering the phone, too - flipping from mad-mom voice to sweet happy voice. My former pastor Ron once said that he often was hissing meanly at his kids in the church parking lot right before he put on his church face as he entered church. Bless him for telling me that - I appreciated his honesty

Johanna said...

Hi Margo! I know I haven't commented in, well, years, basically. I live near you and I homeschool through cyber school. Don't know if you remember me?!

Anyway, I wanted to say congratulations on the baby! I am *so* happy for you and yours! :)

This is probably one of my most favorite posts you have done. Just lovely. Love the honesty especially!

Motherhood is amazing and I wish time would slow down to let me enjoy my kids more. They are growing up way too fast. It actually breaks my heart a little.

God bless you and yours and enjoy the snow! I know we are! :)


Shauna said...

Really enjoyed the morning play-by-play! I love knowing there are Moms all over, in their own spots, doing similar things as me - tons of big and tiny things that all add up to a family well cared for! There is no better accomplishment than this. So rewarding.

jenny_o said...

I remember those busy days all too well, and, yes - it does get calmer as kids get into their teens.

As a stay-at-home mother, I could never understand how working moms of my generation could get it all done. Turns out, they didn't. There are only so many hours in a day, and something has to give when a person is that busy. Sometimes it was time with children, sometimes it was time with the spouse, sometimes it was the housework, and sometimes it was personal time, health or sanity.

Anonymous said...

As a 58 year old grandmother and wife to a now disabled husband (the love of my life)...on days like this, find that favorite chair and totally trust the Lord and read a bit of scripture and finish that coffee. Your just getting started.

AmyK said...

I like the normalcy of this post!

I have noticed a trend among friends and other women whose children have started school. If they aren't homeschooling their children, then a lot of the women are taking on part-time work in some capacity. Selling jewelry (or fitness stuff, or clothing or something similar where you "work from home") or a few hours at an office. I enjoy my time at home, being able to bake or sew (or in my case recently, paint trim and walls and fix up this old house we have) in addition to childcare and other housework. I have felt the pressure, however, to be doing something that involves earning an income although it's not necessary for us right now. I have a good friend who has felt the same way so we vent to each other when the pressure to work away from home is felt. :)

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I am exhausted just reading about all you do. My four children are all grown now with children of their own. I remember this though. You brought it back to me very vividly.

Rachel Weaver said...

This is so wonderfully documented. It has inspired me to try to do the same at some point this week. You are amazing. You do so much with grace.


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