There's no such thing as a day off when you work full-time and you're a mom. As much as I long for those hard-earned weekends they can honestly be more exhausting than a full day of work. So, on my random mid-week vacation day, it came as no surprise that I almost wanted to go to work because that would have been a reprieve from the frenzy that ensued before the sun even came up. The night before was great: My son and daughter ate dinner without turning my kitchen into a modern art show, took baths without acting like the tub was filled with acid, and then drifted off to sleep without protest. The best part of the evening was that I got to turn off all my morning alarms.
Sadly, my small parenting victory was short-lived.
My “day off” started at the ungodly hour of 5 in the morning. Blood-curdling screams of “Mama! Mama!” hijacked my sleep, which I don’t get much of as it is because I’m 6 months pregnant with our surprise baby and have a case of heartburn I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It took a minute to figure out from which kid’s face the yells were coming. My 1-year-old daughter was the culprit. A full-blown, early-morning tantrum, complete with jumping, crying and tossing everything out of her crib. Why the dramatics? Her diaper was wet. Obviously a rational reason to sound the alarms. Once she was changed, drank her weight in milk and snacked on some cheerios, she was perfectly content. Going back to sleep, though, was not in the cards.
Fast-forward about an hour later to 6:30, when my 2-year-old son decided to wake up. I could hear the giggling from his room and thought, how cute, how sweet. I cracked the door to say good morning and before I even opened my mouth he started shouting, “I don't like you, Mommy! I want Daddy." Awesome. Like a fool, I tried to explain that Daddy was at work, but Mommy was home today. Yay! Right? Wrong. You cannot reason with a toddler. Nope. Just no.
Breakfast proved to be quite fun. After wrangling him out of his pajamas, begging him to brush his teeth, and covertly trying to put medicine on his newest “I’m 2 and think I’m an invincible Ninja” boo-boo, my son requested "rainbow cereal," more commonly known as Lucky Charms. Fine. Rainbow cereal it is. (I waved my white flag on the “no-sugar policy” long ago. It’s not a battle worth fighting and, quite frankly, I ate Lucky Charms like it was my job when I was a kid. So there’s that.) I give him his cereal and he throws it on the floor. To add insult to injury, he slaps me across the face and laughs! HE FRIGGIN’ LAUGHS! Is this for real? It isn’t even 7 a.m. yet and this day sucks. Mind you, at this point, I’ve nuked the same cup of coffee, which was made over an hour ago, four times already. It’s now officially sludge, but I still long for a tiny sip. (Yes, I’m pregnant and I drink a bit of coffee when I wake up. Why? Because I work full-time and I have a 2-year-old and a one-year-old. I NEED IT!)
It’s clear that I have to get us all out of the house or I’m going to start to twitch. The kids love the grocery store, and I have a list as long as my leg, so if we go there then everybody wins. With my daughter in my arms, I hold the screen door open for my son so he can get out of the house. Instead of stepping onto the porch, like he usually does, he slams the door shut and locks it. I am outside with my daughter. My son is inside the house with my bag. Oh my God. SERIOUSLY? He goes to the bay window in my living room, which looks out to the porch, and starts shouting at me through the glass, “Mommy, I did it! I locked it!” Calmly, I have to pretend like this is not a big deal, that I’m so proud that he did it, because I have to coax him into unlocking the damn door. My neighbors must think I'm the crazy, inept lady who has her hands full. Ya know what? Yes. I am, and I most certainly do. He finally opens the door and now I have to simultaneously carry a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old into the new minivan I was forced to purchase because in January I will have three children in car seats. My son hates said minivan and every time he's in it he screams, “Get me outta here! Help! Somebody get me outta here!” which makes me look suspiciously like a kidnapper. Always a good time. Not embarrassing at all.
Once everyone is safely strapped in I can head out of the driveway. Wrong again. I’m instantly pelted in the head by something. Sneakers. My son launched both of his sneakers at the back of my head. I’m both equally pissed and impressed by his aim. My daughter sees her brother take off his sneakers and she starts crying because she wants her sneakers off too, naturally.
I put the van in park. I put my head on the wheel. I cry. Not a little whimper, but that ugly cry where your mouth is wide open and no sound comes out. The whole time all I can think is I pee my pants, just a little, every day, because of you guys. A sneeze, a cough, a laugh, an overzealous hop. They all induce a smidge of spontaneous urination because of you; because of being in labor for 22 hours with you. Going through IVF, back to back, TWICE IN ONE YEAR, so you could have siblings. I’m an adult and I have to carry extra panties around in a Ziploc bag because of you. And so far today you’ve slapped me, hit me, and thrown your shoes at my head. It isn’t even 8:00 in the morning and I am a defeated woman, who will probably need to change her pants because crying should be added to my super fun little list.
I gather myself together, wipe off my face with the inside of my maternity shirt, and back my mom-van out of the driveway. I am going to their daycare. I am going to their daycare and I’m dropping them off there today. Why? Because I need to. I truly need a minute to myself after this ridiculous morning and I am going to try really hard to avoid feeling that mom guilt. The whole ride there though I am justifying the decision in my mind because I do feel guilty that it’s my day off and I’m not going to spend it with the children I defied medical odds to have. I write a check to this place each month that rivals my mortgage payment. They have more fun with their little buddies than they would with me. I’m already so frustrated so early in the day that I’ll probably not be the most pleasant mommy today. These are all good, solid reasons to send them to school today.
Once we arrive, and they see their friends, everyone is happy. Everyone wants their shoes on. Everyone hugs and kisses Mommy. All is well in the world. A win, I guess …
Now that they are both all smiles I am feeling a bit calmer and end up going to the grocery store after all. Screw the list. I am now there for one, single item: brownies. When I get home I make myself a new cup of non-sludge coffee and I eat the brownies for breakfast because I’ve earned them, damn it. For lunch, I order a pizza and get to eat it while it's still hot. I ask my husband to pick up the kids from daycare when he's done with work, and when they come home I am a much less frustrated mom for them.
Until the next day, which I also have off.
This article originally appeared on WorkingMother.com.