This morning began when I ignored my 5:30 alarm. I dreamed I swam laps at the gym, but in reality, I hid under the covers for another hour. As the morning unfolded, I realized that I should have stayed in bed.
I had an appointment with my psychiatrist at 9:00. I had lined up a college girl to babysit, and also asked a friend to transport Zach from the middle school to the elementary school at precisely 8:48. Besides being frazzled about my messy house, it seemed that everything was in place for a smooth morning and a thoughtful conversation with the guy in charge of my erratic mental health.
At 8:30, when the babysitter was ten minutes late, I sent her a text: "Are you on your way?"
Five minutes later, she called. She had just woken up. She was still in bed, bleary-eyed and very apologetic. Since she was 10-15 minutes away, and my appointment was about 25 minutes away, I had to decide between waiting for her to show up and being quite late, and taking the girls with me to my appointment. I do not like changing plans and making decisions on the fly. I do NOT like being late. And I DO NOT like trying to have important conversations with my little kids running around. In the end, I whisked the girls into the car, grabbed a bag of quiet activities, and flew out the door. Lexi was sobbing about missing the fun of having an attentive and exciting babysitter. I promised her a treat after the appointment. During the drive I tried to convince myself that Kate and Lexi would sit angelically on the couch and look at books.
When I arrived downtown I couldn't find a parking spot on the street. I did make a lame attempt at parallel parking (how have I arrived at my old age without developing this skill?), but eventually abandoned that idea, drove around the block, and found an open spot behind the building. Then I put Kate in the stroller and literally ran, Lexi at my side, around to the front entrance. We found an open elevator, arrived at the eighth floor, and walked into the smallest waiting room ever at 8:59. I felt completely victorious...and quite out of breath.
Just as the doctor opened the door to let us in, Zach called from the middle school. My friend was 15 minutes late picking him up. He was stranded. I just told him to wait. What else could I do?
Once in the office, Kate screamed to get out of the stroller. Lexi pulled out crayons. In 30 seconds flat, the contents of my bag of tricks were spread out on the floor and Kate was jumping on the couch. I was beyond frazzled. I answered the doctor's "How have you been?" with a blank stare. At that moment, I really had no idea. This was a wretched beginning.
Eventually I responded to the doctor's inquiries, sharing disjointed and sporadic details about the last two months. Dr. McClure, who, with his goatee and glasses and fancy leather chair, could be the poster child for his profession, cocked his head and nodded and made some notes as I talked. Zach called twice in ten minutes. I ignored the calls. When the phone rang a third time I answered with, "Zach...I can't talk right now." The middle school secretary was on the phone, wanting to know "what was happening with Zach's transportation." I wanted to crawl into a hole and die, but instead I laughed. I couldn't believe that any of this was happening.
That's when Lexi started to do the pee-pee dance. She was holding her crotch and whining. I knew this was an emergency, but the only bathroom on the eighth floor was down a few hallways and through a few doors. I couldn't just point and let her run. Was it totally selfish and inappropriate for me to want to finish my meeting first? Probably. But at that point Dr. McClure was writing prescriptions and I was writing the [fat] check. She could wait...at least I hoped so.
I was all apologies as I collected the girls and their things and shuffled out the door. The doctor was chuckling. Although his kids are 20 years past my kids' current stage, he assured me that he understood my plight. I couldn't imagine that was really true, but he was kind to say it.
As we rounded the corner to the bathroom, the secretary at Gavin's preschool called. Gavin had a fever and needed to go home. To this I replied with a shrill, "WHAT?!?!" Clearly I over-reacted, but the timing of the call was pretty crazy. I told the secretary I was 20-30 minutes away, but I would be there as soon as I could. Meanwhile, I couldn't find the women's bathroom. After walking up and down the hall a few times, I sent Lexi into the men's bathroom, hoping that it was empty. It was. I ignored my own bursting bladder. While we waited for the elevator, I called a friend to see if she could rescue Zach, who had now been waiting at the school about 40 minutes. I walked onto the elevator without thinking and the call dropped, but eventually we connected again and she agreed to deliver Zach to the right school. Then I called the middle and elementary school secretaries to inform them of the new plan.
I took a few deep breaths on the way to the preschool. Lexi pestered me about what kind of treat she would get. I wondered what treat I should get for surviving the last hour. We picked up Gavin, who was warm to the touch but clearly feeling just fine. He raced down the hall to the exit doors. I confirmed with his teacher that Gavin can't attend school tomorrow because of the fever. Just great.
After collecting Gavin from school, we drove through McDonald's for 10:00 a.m. ice cream cones. The kids also talked me into a cheese pizza from Little Caesar's next door. We ate a very early lunch, picnic-style, on the floor in front of the TV. It took me an hour to come down from the morning's adrenaline rush.
Maybe when my alarm rings tomorrow, I will actually get up and go to the gym. Clearly, I need to exercise, both for my waistline AND my mental health.