Saturday, September 7, 2013

Working (Mom) Moment: Breakfast Dishes

Linking up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary and her Just Write Project, its 100th installment!
I'm not home on many weekday mornings anymore, since I leave the house for work so early now. Usually, I'm out the door by 7 am at the latest. Most mornings, the kids are barely even out of bed by then, much less dressed, so it's a treat to see their fully-dressed, eating breakfast selves on this Tuesday morning, Hannah's first day of school.

I used to enjoy this bit of time, I know now that I no longer have it. Yes, I used to be stressed and rushed in the morning, but now that it's not my routine, I found myself enjoying the tasks before me at that 7 am hour. First, empty the drying rack of hand-washed dishes. The heavy, wooden, square cutting board usually gets put away first--it's used in preparing almost every meal around here. The sharp, long knives that fit in the just-right spots in the knife block. The pots and pans and then on to the dishwasher itself, racing to finish emptying it before the kids finish their cereal and the newly dirty dishes should be loaded again. Only I am aware of the race against them though, and usually I win.


"Enjoy your last day of freedom," Hannah says to her little brother, who won't start kindergarten for ONE. MORE. DAY. He doesn't get it, and I don't bother to explain. I ask her if her life is really that bad, is school really that hard, and she admits that she knows it's not, but she can't help dispensing her cautionary tales. She is excited, all rainbow loom bracelets and Converse and neon, to see her friends and have the teacher who is "really nice." She packs her water bottle and her snack, which pleases me because I worry when I'm not there to do it for her. I know there are days when she forgot them last year, and she survived, but my working mother guilt persisted too. No lunch to pack today because of course the "first day" of school is our usual early release Tuesday, and she will be home before I can catch my breath.


The scene repeats almost verbatim on Wednesday morning. Again, I am grateful to be home with them for this first day of kindergarten. Again, I'm unloading the dishwasher and realizing that it is foolish for me to stay home late on Monday morning to watch Max get on the school bus for the first time. I will get to see him on Tuesday, do the same exact act, just for the second time. I know I don't need to be there, but my heart still hurts over it. I have already cried this morning, looking at the pictures from Hannah's first day of kindergarten four years earlier, when one year old Max wore his then-favorite train shirt. How is it really his turn to go? This time, the kids are smarter, and ask for breakfast from Starbucks as a treat. We say no, that the morning is busy enough, and so I have won the race again and am waiting for their cereal bowls. Neither kid is very hungry this morning--it's too exciting--and I run the disposal after putting the bowls in the farthest lane of the top rack of the dishwasher, which has just been emptied from an extra run after Marc had prepared Rosh Hashanah items for our holiday dinner taking place that night.

Max is ready. He has been ready for years.  I am ready, too.

I come home after drop off, and a few hours later I tackle the remaining dishes, needing to run the dishwasher one more time before the holiday dinner. I scrub potato peels off the counter, sweep flour off the floor.

There is no race this time, just the constancy of washing dishes, even on the days that make you cry.

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