My morning schedule looks like this:
6:45: Alarm goes off. Note that I did not say "I wake up." If I am actually still horizontal when my phone starts chirping, it means someone did not get me up at dark thirty, and it's a miracle.
6:50: Have gotten myself reasonably presentable in that I am wearing jeans and a T-shirt. No hair or makeup, and my glasses are on, but I can answer the door. Change baby, start breakfast. This means on days when I have not gone grocery shopping and the fridge is down to condiments I will be met with requests for Greek yogurt, and on days when we are really running behind I will be asked to cook oatmeal or eggs or somesuch. It will also mean the baby will want to try and feed herself.
By 7: Kids are eating, kitchen is tidied up, I've probably swept once already since my floor starts churning out crumbs the minute the kids' feet hit it, I am picking out clothes for the day. Start packing Mary's lunch on days she has school.
7:15: Baby G arrives. Chat with Baby G's mom for a few minutes, say goodbye.
By 7:30: Baby G is eating her bottle, Lily is ready to throw down because someone else is getting attention from me, the kids are requesting shows, or that I tie their shoes, or asking to play dress up. I remind them they have lost TV for abhorrent behavior the day before, that you can't put shoes on until the rest of you is dressed for the day and that no, you can't play dress up now, we have to be out of this house by 8:15.
Realize bottle is either faulty or not put together properly because formula has leaked all over my only pair of clean pants.
Get kids dressed. Last night I was lazy and instead of planning a cute, put together outfit for Mary, I chose an old hot pink Hello Kitty T-shirt that she loves and some basic jeans. Dress Anna. Wait until last minute to dress Lily because she likes to remove her socks. Do hair. Listen to Anna freak out. Offer to cut her hair if she doesn't stop flipping out. She flips out over the idea. Instead of doing Mary's hair in some elaborate style, today I throw it back in a half pony and plan to give her a clip at the last minute to keep her whispies out of her face.
Put Baby G in high chair with some toys, park her where I can keep an eye on things, run to get myself dressed in something non-scrubby that can pass muster at pre-school drop off and carry me through a morning of errands. Remember all pants are in hamper except for stylishly "distressed" "boyfriend jeans" which, after two years, are now far too ripped to really be fashionable, but it's that or a pencil skirt. Go for the grunge look in absence of stockings and insanity. Put in contacts, since my glasses don't stand a chance against two babies. It is 8 a.m.
Sit on toilet seat to braid back my hair, since we are running late and there's no time to straighten it. Remind myself I have a coupon I want to use for some sweaters for Mary. Think about when the coupon is valid. Wonder why "September 26" is sticking in my brain.
Realize with 10 minutes to get out the door and one baby who still needs to be dressed that it is school picture day.
Rush to find form. Rush to find checkbook. Glance over and realize Mary looks like a hobo with most of her hair out of her half ponytail and in her face. Realize screen printing on shirt (how I loathe screen printing) is cracked. Have an internal freakout. 8:05.
Rush to Mary's room. No time to find skirt and cute matching knee socks, the jeans she has on will have to do. Thank God they are at least the new jeans without any weird fading or holes yet. Grab a cute shirt and sweater. Throw them on Mary, which messes her hair up even more. Calculate we can leave at 8:20 and still make it on time.
Run Mary to the bathroom. Baby G is looking at me like I've lost my mind as I babble incoherently, trying to entertain, watch, and do hair. Plug in my hair straightener.
"Hi, Hair Straightener!" Mary crows. Back when she had to be in a wedding for some friends, I had had to blow dry and straighten her hair. I knew she'd hate the noise of the dryer because she always had, so I had put on a funny voice and made it "talk" to her. Now we can't do anything without Mary wanting to have a conversation with various personal grooming products. Ask me about Hairbrush's personality sometime.
"No time for that, Mar," I say, wetting the top of her head. I decide to do a quick French braid up top and then straighten the rest just a little, on low heat, to take the frizzies out.
When we are done, Mary looks like one of those Fundamentalist kids on TLC. I cringe and take out the lopsided, too poofy, still whispy, braid. I attempt a side braid. It sticks out at a strange angle like a bizarre appendage. Remove that. Finally pull the hair that's always in her face to the side, secure with a small elastic, spray the hell out of it with hairspray ("Hi, Hairspray!"), put protective spray on the ends, straighten them, and send her out warning her not to touch her hair at all, ever, ever.
8:13. I slap on some makeup of my own to try and look less like death warmed over, fill out the picture form, throw the baby's clothes on amid protest, get Baby G into her seat, carry her and Lily out at the same time, asking Mary to shut the door behind me. The second it latches and we are at the car I realize her backpack is still on the piano. Curse. Buckle everyone in, dash in for the backpack, am back in 10 seconds flat. Achieve the whole thing with minimal screaming and crying (on my part).
We get to the school at 8:29. The teacher looks down at Anna, Mary, and sees Lily in my arms, Baby G in the carrier car seat in my left hand.
"Who's this?" she asks. She hadn't seen us last Wednesday, when Baby G came with us at dropoff.
"Baby G," I say. "I watch her a few days a week for my friend."
The teacher looks from kid to kid and shakes her head.
"You're amazing," she said, as I fix a clip that matches the sweater applique exactly into Mary's hair and send her on her way.