There are two times of day that I just detest: the fifteen minutes before we leave the house in the morning and the hour before dinner when we get back from the day.
Our mornings went so much more smoothly when, when... well, I don't think they have ever gone smoothly. Except when I'm home alone with the kids and that's because I organize like I have OCD. When daddy's around, I don't set every little thing up the night before. I don't shower before bed, hoping that my hair doesn't dry overnight like a flock of seagulls. I don't put breakfasts on the plates, ready to zap in the microwave. I don't order two cups of milk to stand at attention in the fridge all night, and I don't leap out of bed the first time my alarm announces morning. I do all of that when he's gone and morning's go smoothly. Hmmm... *Smacking my own forehead* I think I just taught myself something here.
And that hour between work and dinner? Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I can't think of anything more coherent to say about that witching hour. Ugh. I do completely understand that my kids miss me and clamor for my attention. I know this because I miss them, too. I wish that we would walk in the door and Alice from The Brady Bunch would greet us, wearing her starched blue uniform, asking to pour me a glass of wine or a margarita or something, supper simmering happily on the stove. If that were the case, I could devote that time to kids-on-the-couch snuggling or sliding-across-the-floor-in-our-socks contests, or even blowing-bubbles-in-the-driveway time. But, last I checked, I don't have a maid. Ugh.
Lately, they have both come home from daycare as hungry as hyenas -- I'm afraid to leave my hands near their snapping mouths, lest I lose a finger. I somehow cannot cook dinner fast enough for spring days of outdoor play, running, climbing, swinging, laughing, and growing. I offer a nutritious snack and it is inhaled before I turn back to the stove. I give a big glass of water and it is drained before I turn off the tap. Unfortunately, because I spend so much time hurling string cheese and apple slices at the ravenous vultures, I barely have time to tend the food for the meal I'm preparing to serve. Things boil over or get stuck crisply to the pan, the microwave beeps endlessly to alert me that the veggies are done steaming. I can barely slice a strawberry before a small pink hand plucks it from the cutting board.
I have learned that I cannot put the food on the table until we are ready to sit down because my children will climb up there and eat it before I can get there. They have suddenly become very self-sufficient, dishing up their plates while I try to assemble silverware for all of us. They empty the fruit bowl, gnaw on pork chops, and slurp up spaghetti before my bum even meets my chair. And if Scott doesn't come the instant before I call him? The kids are done eating, flying off their seats to wash their hands and scurry about their activities. Leaving me sitting there, utterly bewildered, blinking at my husband as he sits down to his plate and we survey the wreckage left behind. I just can't wait until they are teenagers...