Elle’s and my morning routine is challenging to say the least. Daddy is gone by 4am so that leaves us girls to get it together in time to get her to Auntie’s by 7am, and me to work by 8am five days a week. Sound hard? Understatement of the century. Especially in her latest phase of “If you put me down, Mama, I swear to binky I’ll scream so loud I’ll wake the dead”. We spend a couple precious minutes in bed nursing and snuggling. I check the time and think we probably can still make it if we stay in bed three more minutes. I check the time again and decide which task we are going to skip to stay in bed just two more minutes. Then I check the time again and say, “Shoot, Elle! We’re late!” and jump out of bed to run to the pile of laundry on the floor, throwing clothes all over the room in search of something professional (not wrinkled) that I can still nurse or pump in without sitting completely naked in my office. Even with a closed door, that’s just weird. Elle always finds this part of the morning very amusing and giggles at me while tossing herself all over the bed in an attempt to get me to play with her.
Then, every morning, there comes that moment. The moment she realizes Mommy is not going to play with her right now. The moment the separation anxiety kicks in, the moment the saddest pout parks itself on her little angel face, the moment I pick her up and will only put her down for scarcely a minute the rest of the morning. There is one way to buy myself one minute of the use of both of my hands. I give her an apple and maybe have time to do a little something with my hair, or put on some makeup. But not both. One of those things will have to be completed in the car after I drop her off.
This morning she actually kept herself busy for four to five minutes with her stacking blocks in the living room. I stood in the doorway and watched her while I brushed my teeth. She’s been working on these blocks for the last couple of weeks. She knew they could all fit inside each other somehow, but she hadn’t quite been able to figure it out. As I stood there watching my mind was on fast forward. Lists of things were racing through my brain, things that we still had to accomplish before we left, how much I had to get done in a short holiday work week, all of the things I was going to miss while she was with Auntie today. I was just about to turn around and walk away, thinking maybe I could actually do my hair AND makeup today. Then my brain stopped me and said, “Don’t move. Stay right here. Watch her for just one more minute. She is so happy right now, so beautiful.”…… Then…she got the blocks to all fit inside each other! And I cried, and I laughed, and I jumped around like an insane clown, clapping and telling her what a great job she did. And I picked her up and we danced around the living room, and we put the blocks together sixteen more times.
And I was nine minutes late for work.
I’m still trying to master this whole working mom thing. It’s a balancing act that I don’t think you ever fully figure out. I don’t think being a mom gives me a pass to be a mediocre employee, and I definitely don’t think being a professional gives me a pass to be anything less than an amazing mother. But what I learned this morning is that you can’t go the extra mile at the office if you don’t take that extra minute at home. Those are the minutes that you don’t get back, and the minutes that will push you through the work week, and motivate you to give the extra effort. They are the minutes that Elle will remember.