The Happiest Mother On The Block

I am not particularly proud of the mother I am from seven to eight o'clock in the morning.

Well, I am rather proud of what I manage to accomplish — getting the children up, getting them dressed, making their lunches, seeing that their teeth are brushed, packing their bags, walking the dog… you know the drill. I just can't say that I do it all with much ease or grace. Any ease or grace, for that matter. Nine times out of ten, I am barking at all three of them by the time we make it into the car. Ten times out of ten, the car ride to school is pure hell.

"He's repeating me!"

"She's kicking me!"

"He's looking out of my window!"

"She called me stupid!"

"Well, he is stupid!"

"Well, he is stupid!"

"Stop repeating meeeeee!!"

"Why couldn't I be an only child?"

"STOP KICKING MY SEAT!!!"

"STOP KICKING MY SEAT!!!"

"He's repeating me again!"

Every single morning, day after day, it's the same. Our own little Groundhog Day.

"Just be quiet!!!" I holler, glaring in the rear view mirror. I can feel my blood pressure rising and the beginnings of a killer headache setting in.

"No more talking until we get there. Everyone just STOP!!"

I sigh audibly for effect. Just once I would like to get to drop off without a sore throat from yelling and without beads of sweat forming on my forehead. Is it really necessary for me to play referee before I've even had my coffee? Can't they just sit in the car and mind their own business for the 15 minutes it takes to get to school? Do mornings really have to be like this? And, just then, I see her walking by like clockwork and my question in answered. No, they don't. For some people, mornings are a breeze.

Every single school day, The Happy Mother on the block walks her dog and two children along our route to the neighborhood school. Her kids are typical kids, not particularly spotless or notable, and I'm pretty sure I once saw the brother knock over his sister and laugh about it. They're kids, just like mine. But, it's the mom that strikes me day after day after day after day as I ride by hissing at my own offspring. And, why? Because she's smiling, ear to ear, every damn time I see her.

I look at her laughing with the kids, holding the dog leash in one hand and a coffee cup in another and wonder how she manages not only to bear that uphill walk, but to actually seemingly enjoy it. I wonder if she notices me at the same intersection every day, with the exhausted look in my eyes and the sulking kids in the backseats. Does she wonder why I have to yell at them? Why we're not happily playing word games or discussing world peace like they probably are? Does she think she's better than me? Does she even see us? No, I'm sure. Most likely she doesn't even notice me because she's too busy being… happy.

Now, before you go thinking that I'm all depressed and should start dealing with my feelings, I'm not unhappy. I laugh and smile and enjoy my kids throughout the day, the morning just never happens to be one of those times. My daily run-ins with her make me wonder what she could possibly be doing that I'm not. Is she filling her coffee cup with vodka? Is she meditating for an hour at four in the morning to ground herself? Does she pop pills and peak in the morning and then suck for the rest of the day? Or, does she really just enjoy her children and parent them effortlessly all day, each and every day?

I'm going with the vodka. Or the meditation. Or the pills. The alternative is simply unthinkable.

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