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Descent into madness: a mother’s story

I know it’s Thanksgiving Day and I am supposed to be writing a very moving, but not at all trite, prayery/blessingish post regarding my whole-hearted gratefulness for all of the things.

That gratefulness is a part of me and I think it runs through my writing the way it runs through my veins, despite the sarcasm shield, which can be cloudy if not opaque at times. So, I’ll leave that alone today and give you cracks in my sanity.  For the record,  I wrote this on Tuesday night, well before the twenty-four hour period of mandatory thankfulness began.


Tuesday, 7:15 a.m.  Alarm rings.  It’s been pouring rain for three days.  Check window – still pouring rain.

Stacey:  Time to get dressed!  Long pants and long sleeves, please.

Them:  Again?!

Stacey:  All horrific, dreadful winter long.  And listen, (PREP #1) there’s that huge puddle/lake/drainage issue thing beside the van in the driveway and when we leave today, I want you to stay out of it.

Them:  Is it Thanksgiving?

Stacey:  No, it’s Tuesday, Thanksgiving is on Thursday.

Them:  Can we watch TV?

Stacey:  Before dinner, like every single day in the history of eternity.

7:45  Breakfast.

Stacey:  Bowls in the sink.  No throwing bowls, no frisbee bowls, no ninja chucking star bowls.  Just  No splash.  Wipe your mouths.  And listen, (PREP #2) we’ll get our boots on in about 45 minutes and when you go to the van leave that puddle ALONE.

Them:  Can we watch TV?

Stacey:  No, like every single school morning.  No.

8:10:  Initial packing phase.

Stacey:  Okay, lunches and homework in your bags, please.  Don’t forget your sneakers so you can change out of your boots.  Check for your water bottles.  And LISTEN. Stop. Listen. (Prep #3).  When you get outside, stay out of the huge puddle next to the van.  It’s deep, it will go over your boots and I will not change anyone’s clothes, I don’t care how wet you are, does everyone understand this?

Them:  Yes.  Can we watch TV?

Stacey:  (fume.)

8:25 p.m.  Final pre-departure packing.

Stacey:  Time to go!  Boots, please, not shoes.  Shoes should be in your bags.  Winter coats or sweaters and rain coats.

Them:  Why can’t we have umbrellas?

Stacey:  Because, as we have all learned, if it looks like a weapon and can be used as a weapon, it is a weapon.

Them:  Can we watch TV?

Stacey:  NO!  Boots!!  Coats!!  VAN.  NOW. And put your buckles on.  AND, (Prep #4) STAY OUT OF THAT DAMN PUDDLE.

8:35   Five minutes from red-alert late status.

Stacey:  Shit, the dog, I have to catch the dog.  Get your boots on.

Them:  I can’t find my other boot.  I want my [insert lost thing here.]  [Indiscriminate pleasure whining.] [Fabricated catastrophe.]

Stacey:  Here’s your boot.  Good job.  Shit, Quinn needs chicken broth for his feast.  Shit, I forgot to print a paper I need.  I’ll be right there, I’m going to tie up the dog and grab the broth.  Get in your buckles… no fighting!  (Crucial, possibly fatal, omission of PREP #5).

8:42  We’re okay, but pushing it if they are in the van … rounding corner of van … and …

(For the record, the “f” words in the following diatribe were in my head.  Mostly.  I admit to nothing.)

MOTHER*(*#$*#@.  What are you doing?  GET OUT OF THE PUDDLE!!!  ARE YOU INSANE?  ARE YOU DEAF?  Yeah, oh? Are your pants wet?  And your socks?  How sad for you, how cold and pathetic you’ll be at school.  Look at how I love and fucking logic your dumb little asses into the car.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I asked you like EIGHT TIMES to stay out of that puddle.  LAKE.  ARRGGGG.  Get in your seats before I take away your Christmas presents. Anyone who cries about wet pants, I’ll take NEXT YEAR’S Christmas presents.  Your grandchildren won’t see Santa until they’re ten I swear to GOD.

8:49  Backing out of the driveway.

Saige:  My-y-y-y-y-y-y-y pants are weeeeeeeeeetttttttttt!

Nate:  Here momma!  (fling.) Here momma!  (fling.) There momma!  My wet socks for you!

Quinn:  Is it Thanksgiving today?

Garrett:  After school, can we watch TV?

Stacey:  (Bangs head on dashboard and drools.)

The end.


I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of fun and family and gratefulness and a minimum of madness.  I am grateful for you and this community of writers that I treasure.  I’m also grateful for them, in large part, and the other parts are easily overlooked.

For a table that sits fourteen (barely!) and the people I love to sit around it.

And finally, I’m grateful that I was successfully able to hide the Oreos from Matt because the kids made really cute Oreo turkeys.  Yes, it has like eighteen eyes.  It’s a spider-Oreo-turkey.  That’s possibly been exposed to radiation.  I was trying to be less control-freaky.  (Amy and Elise are laughing at me right now.)

29 Responses to Descent into madness: a mother’s story
  1. Amelia
    November 23, 2012 | 7:31 am

    I am so glad I don’t live in Washington.

  2. Jenn H.
    November 23, 2012 | 7:44 am

    Loved this. Every mother of small children can absolutely relate. My favorite is the maddening “Can we watch TV?” As if the answer is going to somehow change this time and break our multi-YEAR rule of “no TV before school”. Likely. Very likely.
    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  3. Annie
    November 23, 2012 | 11:39 am

    Yes! You captured this exactly. Felt like I was reading about my own morning ‘get out the door with the children’ routine. I am thankful for your big and mama lode posts. It keeps me sane! (and my husband because I often read these to him saying, “see, we are not alone” ;)

  4. andy
    November 23, 2012 | 1:44 pm

    You are my parenting hero and I want to be you when I grow up.

    I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving!

  5. Erin
    November 23, 2012 | 2:31 pm

    SNOW? Fuck that noise, man.

  6. Korinthia Klein
    November 23, 2012 | 3:47 pm

    Ah, some days parenting is just throwing words into the void. Glad you had a nice Thanksgiving!

  7. Candice@NotesFromABroad
    November 23, 2012 | 7:50 pm

    “Bangs head on steering wheel , drools.”

    Sounds like an ordinary day for a mother of 12 .. err, 4 children :D ..

  8. Alexandra
    November 23, 2012 | 8:58 pm

    The best way to go.

    I lost my mind at the library book sale in 2006.


    Happy Thanksgiving to your and yours, dear lady.

  9. Alexandra
    November 23, 2012 | 8:59 pm

    The best way to go.

    I lost my mind at the library book sale in 2006.


    Happy Thanksgiving to your and yours, dear lady.

    What?? My comment disappeared. trying again: what have I got to lose? I already lost my mind.

  10. Alexis
    November 24, 2012 | 2:17 am

    Laughing through the tears over the loss of a beloved pet… all so, so true. The d.amn puddle, they can never resist the puddle, can they?

  11. Mama D
    November 24, 2012 | 3:33 am

    Oh, I loved this post!!! I have had SO many conversations (using the term loosely) with my kids that have gone like this…I might as well not be talking at all sometimes for all the good it does. My son’s pediatrician told me once that his hearing is perfectly fine but that listening is an entirely different animal! :)

  12. Alexicographer
    November 24, 2012 | 4:00 am

    Thank you, it helps to know I am not alone! Truly.

    Once the rain stops (hahahaha), is work to remove the puddle-formation an option? We used to have a horrible one that formed in front of our front door and then we dug more-or-less french drains in front of same and now it either does not form or, in horrific deluges, forms briefly but then disappears. We we broke at the time and I refused to pay to rent a ditch witch for this process (we hand-dug the trench), and for a time I became known (fondly, I like to imagine) as the ditch B … , but it worked.

    On the other hand, if you are parking your van on a concrete or asphalt driveway, I am thinking the only solution is to park the van somewhere else, or wait it out until they all go to college. Either could work.

  13. Gayle
    November 24, 2012 | 11:12 am

    That’s a lot of time for disaster… you need to shorten that morning prep time. Mine get ten minutes to get dressed then they are plopped in front of PBS with tv trays and breakfast then shuffled out the door onto a bus while I smile and tell them how much I love them. Thirty minutes from start to finish. And then I may or may not put Carolans in my coffee.

  14. Della Williams
    November 24, 2012 | 2:25 pm

    I enjoyed the story. Gosh! I wish I could relive many of those days . . . Then again, maybe not! Happy b-lated turkey day!

  15. She Looks Like a Mom
    November 25, 2012 | 3:29 am

    I’m seriously very glad that my kid is not the only one asking for TV all. day. long. Her cute little voice piping “Watch-a-show, Care Bears?” is ingrained in my memory at the end of a day. Every day. Yup, glad it’s other mothers’ kids, too.

  16. stephprecourt
    November 25, 2012 | 12:50 pm

    Oh my goodness. I hear you and I also think this is one of my faves of yours ever.


  17. Amy
    November 25, 2012 | 4:25 pm

    Next year, be a lamb & use your control-freakness towards my wine intake.

  18. Jenng
    November 26, 2012 | 2:56 pm

    LOL! I literally was laughing out loud at this post – I can soooooo relate! My kids would be right in the puddle as well!! What kid can resist a good, deep puddle??? Haha – but these are the things memories are made of…one day you too will laugh at these antics. :)

  19. deb
    November 26, 2012 | 5:12 pm

    i remember these days. it all seems so nostalgic now! :) next time tell them: sneakers! and be sure to hit that puddle on your way to the car! who knows, maybe a little reverse psychology could keep them dry!

  20. maggie may
    November 26, 2012 | 6:44 pm

    I love this so much. I am not handling the repeating basic life EVERY DAY THE ANSWER IS THE SAME questions well lately. Lola is TEN. COME ON. Next Ever in line. The boys did it too. afjos;dihfoewhwo!~~!!!!

  21. Issa
    November 26, 2012 | 8:51 pm

    I love this post.

    I just wanted to say that I’m thankful that I get to see you next year.

  22. Galit Breen
    November 27, 2012 | 4:20 am


    I’m grateful for *you*, your words, your heart, your wit, and your ability to make me feel like my mornings are a-okay, totally and completely NORMAL.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


  23. Elaine
    November 27, 2012 | 4:37 am

    I just knew someone was going to step in that damn puddle (lake). And I’m so GLAD to know that other people have times like this. I mean, I know they do, but it’s good to read sometimes, you know??


  24. Cindy
    November 29, 2012 | 3:49 am

    Can I come to your house and watch tv??? My kids are all young adults. I can laugh at this because I have been there,done that. And,sometimes when you are in this,the only thing you can do is laugh because otherwise,you will fall apart!!! Not good for the kids to see Mommy slide off the edge! :)

  25. Cindy
    November 29, 2012 | 3:49 am

    Can I come to your house and watch tv??? My kids are all young adults. I can laugh at this because I have been there,done that. And,sometimes when you are in this,the only thing you can do is laugh because otherwise,you will fall apart!!! Not good for the kids to see Mommy slide off the edge! :)

  26. Diane
    November 30, 2012 | 7:39 pm

    I use TV as the incentive to get ready. They can only turn it on IF and WHEN they are 100% ready including coats, shoes/boots, bags packed, lunch packed, ready to walk out the door. When I say time to go if the TV is not off and they are not up and heading out the door right away TV gets taken away the next day. It really has worked wonders in getting them going. A lot of days there isn’t time for it and they don’t complain but they are still ready to go when I need them to be. Good Luck!

  27. Mindy
    December 1, 2012 | 4:44 am

    I ask this with all respect. What am i overlooking in the reasoning of no television in the morning?

  28. Lady Jennie
    December 2, 2012 | 7:19 pm

    Love you, love your family!

    Oh how very refreshing this is to read. :-)

  29. Deanna
    December 7, 2012 | 1:22 pm

    I just found your blog, and may I just say- I absolutely love you. I sensed “kindred spirit” in your writing, but that sounds sort of creepy so I apologize for the stalkerish tone of this comment. Keep on writing because I’m going to keep on reading! You are completely awesome.

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