21 Ways I Failed My Kids Before 8 A.M.

by Sarah Cords
Originally Published: 
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1. I didn’t lean in. In fact, I hit the alarm off and leaned so far back on my bed that I fell back asleep.

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2. I woke the kids up by singing them a version of “Good Mornin’!” from Singing in the Rain, which somehow managed both not to wake them up and embarrass them.

3. I served them processed fruit bars for breakfast because that’s all the little punks will eat, and also I had neglected to make overnight oats in adorable little Mason jars.

4. I mentally referred to my dear sons as “little punks.”

5. I okayed their choice to take school lunch for a menu that promised both “chicken smiles” and “potato smiles,” two foods for which the only part of the name that is accurate is “smiles,” because their ingredients are stamped into the shape of smiley faces. They contain neither chicken nor potatoes.

6. I heaved a sigh of relief that they wanted school lunch, because I don’t have homemade applesauce or lovingly created and healthy sandwiches carved into the shape of an animal to give them, or an environmentally-friendly metal bento box to pack them in.

7. Because they didn’t take home lunches, I also didn’t tuck loving or gently encouraging notes into their reusable canvas lunch totes. Which I also don’t own.

8. One boy has a lingering cough that probably would have benefited from a couple of minutes in the steamy bathroom, but we were already late (see #1).

9. I sent my kid to school with a cough.

10. I am a stay-at-home mother, so my boys are learning that the only place for the woman is in the home, and also she is the only one who cooks, does laundry, and cleans the toilet.

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11. I majored in journalism and library science, so any paid researching, writing, or editing freelance work I do manage to procure results in checks that rarely bust out of the two-digit range.

12. My younger boy lost his shit because the one pair of pants he’ll wear was in the wash and he will not wear any of his other seven pairs of pants because “they make zip-zop noises when I walk.”

13. In the words of my younger son: “You should have done a wash yesterday!”

14. I do not make enough money (see #12) to buy my younger son all new pants that do not make said “zip-zop” noises when he walks.

15. I told younger boy he’d just have to stay home if he couldn’t put on a pair of pants, and then made him cry by telling him I’d put him in the car in his underpants if I had to so I could drive his big brother to school.

16. I made his older brother cry at the very thought of the embarrassment that would be caused to everyone if the younger boy left the house in his underpants. Think the embarrassment factor of a mother who knows songs from 1950s musicals, multiplied times twelve.

17. Nobody brushed their teeth for the dentist-prescribed full two minutes.

18. I filled out my older son’s field trip permission form, but did not volunteer to be a chaperone.

19. They both ended up being late to school because of the Great Pants Debate of 2019.

20. I am not a yummy mummy who showed up at school wearing the yoga pants, a bouncy ponytail, a fitness tracking watch, or any other attire choice that would signal I am a runner, healthy, or fit in any way, as befits neighborhood mothers who recognize the importance of self-care.

21. After dropping them off, I felt sorry about all the screaming and crying and fighting, but by the time I got home and enjoyed a cup of coffee in the blessed silence, I’d talked myself into believing that the morning built character for everyone.

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