The acrid aroma pierced my awareness before the sound of the alarm did.

Consciousness desperately trying to break through the fog in my mind, the pieces start to float back.

I’m in my daughter’s bed. Why am I here?

Oh, right. Her nightmare at 3 a.m. What IS that smell?

No Pull-Ups. I was too tired to argue with her.

THAT backfired. Sheesh, I’m soaked.

7:04

Late.

Again.

OK. Showers for both of us before school. In 26 minutes. Uggh. Wake her first. I can go through the drop-off line like this . . . if I have to.

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I get her sleepy form into the shower. This is NOT what she wants to do. Poor kid. She’s already tired from the night, and her day hasn’t even begun. I briskly instruct her that she doesn’t have to wash her hair, but her body needs to be washed before school.

And quickly! I need a shower, too.

Taking the book from my son’s hands, my first words to him this morning are, “OK. We’re going to be late for school if we don’t work together. I need you dressed and ready to go by the time I get out of the shower. If you get started on your lunch, brownie points for you. And DON’T touch another book until you’re in the car!”

Get Sis out of the shower and start her drying off. She’s crying because she’s cold. Firmly, I remind her she can use the hairdryer, but she’s got to get dressed, get her backpack ready, and have her snack in her pouch before I get out. She sniffles and shuffles into the bedroom.

I follow her and plug in the hairdryer. Making a lap through the living room, I take another book out of my son’s hands and sharply remind him of what he needs to do.

Hurriedly, I get in the shower. I turn on the faucet . . . and the guilt flows over me.

I didn’t even tell him good morning before I started in with the day’s demands.

Did I kiss her before I turned on the shower? No. No, I didn’t.

They don’t usually pack their own lunches. I’ll have to check and make sure they have some kind of protein in them.

Will he remember that it’s October now, and he can’t wear shorts because of the dress code?

Will her clothes actually match, or will she just wear what she likes best regardless?

We’ve been late twice already this week.

Why can’t I get it together?

I should have loved on them first.

Am I giving them too much responsibility this morning?

They’re only eight and six.

Good grief. They’re eight and six. They can get ready for school on their own.

Yes, but they aren’t used to it. Will they feel unloved? Uncared for?

I throw my clothes on and rush into the kitchen.

There they are. Dressed. Shoes on. Matching . . . mostly.

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I hear my son say, “Sis, you need a protein so your brain can think better.”

“OK, bro! You forgot to put a plant in yours, though. Want a banana?”

I stand in the doorway, tears in my eyes.

He takes the outstretched banana.

“Ha! Bro! Have a bare necessity!” she says with a flourish. They giggle together and start singing.

I smile and wrap them in hugs and kisses.

Yes, I should have done that first this morning . . . but I am right now.

I check their lunches and, fighting the urge to comment on all the pretzels and chocolate, tell them what a good job they did remembering the different food groups.

We giggle, as they hop around the kitchen singing “Bare Necessities.”

Such beautiful kids. Responsible. Capable.

Yes, this morning I started off all wrong. But look at them!

He holds her backpack while she shoves her lunchbox in.

She opens the door for him, so he doesn’t walk into it because he’s got his nose in a book again.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll do better.

Maybe today isn’t as bad as I thought.

Maybe, I’m a better mom than I think I amgood days and bad.

Julie Garber

Julie Garber is a Midwestern mother to a boy who loves books and a girl who loves dirt. A lover of words, coffee, and good food, if she isn't reading, writing, or speaking words . . . it's probably because her mouth is full of something delicious!