Chaos: A Well-Oiled Machine (or NOT)

1471871_590823924316333_1452133384_nYou know those FABULOUS blog-posts that begin with a reflection that goes something like this: “I see you over there, mom. I see you with your head in your hands at the lunch table trying to keep your wits about you with your toddler tugging at your sleeve — his hand covered in ketchup — you still in your church clothes. I see you sigh because you are tired. You’re a good mom. You got up and took your child to church. Good for you!” You know those posts that start like that? This one is kind of like that but that poor mom is me and oh what a day it has been.

Those posts are great. They’re always mom-encouraging. They’re either, “Way to go stay at home mom!” or, “Way to go, mom who works full time!” or, “Trash the idea of Super-Mom!” (I reposted that one this morning — it was good). This isn’t really like that. This is “Woe-is-me, mom.” Like I said, oh what a day it’s been.

Sunday morning is absolute chaos. I thought we’d never get the hang of it. I thought we’d never be able to figure out how to both get out the door at the same time and not forget our Bibles, preaching folders, sermons, bulletins, sunglasses, car keys, church keys, and the diaper bag fully loaded with everything Cooper would need during the appocalypse. Somehow and someway we’ve finally gotten it worked out. Somehow and someway we get it right. That’s about all we get. Let me walk you through a Sunday morning. In fact, let me walk you through this one….

I set the alarm for 7:30. We do a lot to get ready Saturday nights. We lay clothes out and pack what we can. This morning at 6:45 I heard Cooper coughing followed by a pitiful cry and I knew what had happened. It’s been 11 days now. On and off for 11 days, he’s thrown up. It’s usually around 5:00 in the morning. We’d made it 3 days this time and I thought for sure we were in the clear but there it was at 6:45 this morning, all over the crib, and all over him. I stripped the bed. I stripped the kid (who clearly wanted to lay back down) and I let him lay back down. Craig laid back down. Both boys went back to sleep. I laid in bed facebooking on my phone knowing that it was a useless endeavor. I was up.

At 7:30 I got up and got Craig up. We got dressed — Craig upstairs and me downstairs — quietly so Cooper wouldn’t wake up. I pulled a flat-iron through my messy hair and pulled it back in a loose pony-tail — there’s not much I can do to fight the static this time of year. I washed my face and threw on my makeup. I quickly brushed my teeth. Craig walked the dogs. I poured some mandarine oranges on a plate and opened some yogurt — Cooper’s breakfast. Then I grabbed my church keys and ran next door — slipping on the ice that’s been on my office door sidewalk for over a week. I unlocked all three doors of the church, turned on all the lights, made some copies of something to hand out in church, grabbed a sign-up sheet and brought it into the sanctuary where I found nearly a dozen almost-dead poinsettias. Apparently I should’ve assigned someone (with a green thumb) to care for the poinsettias during Advent. I plugged in the Christmas tree and made sure the bulletins were where they should be by the end of Sunday School, rushed back to my office, grabbed my first church’s bulletins, my Bible, and my robe and headed back to the house. Cooper was up. Craig brought him down in a diaper so I could iron his jon jon and search frantically for a white shirt for him to wear under it — ironing out only the big wrinkles. Craig dressed Cooper while I threw snacks, juice, wipes, diapers, spare clothes, books, and applesauce in his bag, printed all of our sermons, children’s sermons, and Advent liturgies, and threw some morning necessities in my purse and laid out chicken to thaw for dinner. Craig found Cooper’s shoes. I fried and egg and threw it on a piece of toast — all of us ready with 8 minutes to spare and all of that accomplished in an hour and fifteen minutes. Chaos is a well-oiled machine.

At this point Cooper seemed to feel great! He was happily watching cartoons and it was too late to make other plans for him. Because of the above-stated chaos, I didn’t have 10 seconds to think of a better plan for him than bringing him to church which was a bad decision. He should’ve stayed at home or gone to church with Craig rather than hog the nursery worker and the nursery (with his under-the-weather self), but, dear mom with your head in your hands exhausted, frustrated, and imperfect in every way, you didn’t have the time or capacity to think.

Craig picked up the nursery worker and took Cooper to church. The other babies stayed in worship and that, along with the deadish poinsettias, is why, poor mom, you’re sitting with your head in your hands.

The morning was wonderful. Worship was beautiful at both churches. I was surprised with the most beautiful solo introit to worship this morning at Ridgely that I’ve ever hear. I could’ve sat and listened to it all day long! I had a beautiful plate of Christmas cookies left on my desk after worship. I had the youth group gathered around me in the pulpit before worship started just because they like me and want to hang out. Attendance was great and most folks were distracted from the poinsettias because Christmas music is lovely to sing and I preached my heart. So I can’t call it a pastoral failure this morning but as a mom, whew, I failed.

Cooper came bouncing in the sanctuary after worship with his owl hat on in a fabulous mood. He skipped all around the sanctuary singing to himself and bouncing with every step. He must be better. He must be ok. Maybe it was just something he ate. He’s happy — gleeful, almost.

We went home and met Craig there who brought home wonderful news of a lovely Christmas bonus/gift from one of his churches that will just about make up the difference of what we’ll need to pay off his last semester of school. How lovely and gracious and wonderful! The kid is feeling better and solutions to worries are working themselves out. We are a well-oiled machine. No one was late. No toes were stepped on. Nothing was forgotten (you know…..except delegating someone to water those poinsettias….sigh*). Home free on the day. Well, not really.

We like to go to Dyersburg for lunch on Sundays and Cooper seemed to be great, so we headed to El Patio for lunch. When we got to El Patio, everything changed. Cooper got really impatient waiting on a table. In fact, he flat out screamed waiting. We sat him down and he fussed in his seat. He wasn’t content anymore — he couldn’t be. This is when things got hard. I wrestled with him for 10 minutes. I gave him what he loves — chips and guacamole (my kid, all the way). He ate. He drank some sweet tea. I was surprised he wanted all of this after early this morning but after a while he seemed to settle in. I settled into sitting, poor mom, with my hands in my head being worn down.

Then the coughing started. I thought for sure he’d gotten a piece of a chip caught in his throat but I checked and couldn’t see anything. I patted him on the back and gave him something to drink. It continued. I shoveled my food in my mouth between bouts of coughing with him. Right as I was finishing, it happened. It happened so quickly but felt like it was going in slow motion. It was like a fountain. It was like something from the original Exorcist movie (think projectile vomit). It went everywhere. There was a puddle, no, a pond, no, a LAKE of it under his high chair. His Christmas jon jon and that white shirt I’d searched so hard for, was covered and it just kept coming for what seemed like forever. The looks on the faces of people around us were horrified, twisted, judgmental expressions of pity and disgust. And I sat there. Craig in a feeble attempt to make the first move handed me a wet wipe. A WET WIPE! The kid was SOAKED. Of course, worn out and flabbergasted at the moment of horror and judgmental mom looks, I exclaimed, “WHY ARE YOU GIVING ME A WET WIPE!?! I NEED NAPKINS!” He sprung into action grabbing napkins that we quickly ran out of. Then he asked for a towel. Our poor waiter rushed around trying to help. We took Cooper’s jon jon off (cut to a child in his diaper with puke everywhere in the middle of a nice Mexican restaurant full of after-church-goers). I Told Craig to get the check and pay it. Our waiter found me a bag for Cooper’s clothes — he just sat there and wept — cold and naked.

We rushed him to the car. He was crying and I was crying on the inside. Craig and I snapped at each other in our stress. We keep a blanket in the car. We covered Cooper up with it and turned Elmo on, on the ipad. We headed home.

At home we gave him a bath, dressed him in pj’s, and he immediately went down for a nap — empty and sad — us, dejected and worn — all of this by 2:30 in the afternoon.

It pays to be a well-oiled machine but sometimes, no matter what, you can’t win for losing. So, when you see that mom — you know, the one with her head in her hands scarfing down food quickly at the Mexican restaurant after church — don’t jump to conclusions. The story may just be beginning.

The day isn’t over. We both still have Bible studies. I’ll be finishing mine a minute early so I can get home and let Craig go to his without us getting Cooper out again. Sometimes we really make it work. Sometimes we don’t make it work at all. Always, we hope we’re still loved.

The puked-on, PastorMommy.

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One thought on “Chaos: A Well-Oiled Machine (or NOT)

  1. Toddlers are good, oh-so-good, at making you think they are a-ok. I’m convinced that they are so afraid of missing something epic and wonderful, they will themselves to be happy and well-looking when we need the hint that they just aren’t! Here’s a hug, puke covered and all! So hopeful that this crud goes away, for GOOD, right now! (Really, 5 minutes ago!)

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