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TITLE: One Messy Morning
By Kristina Adams

I would like to know your first reaction to the story...also, if there are any things that need more or less explanation. I want the mood to be swiftly moving, just like the morning rush.
This morning was typical, with a twist. As usual, I was running late in my race to get out the door to go to my middle school teaching job. My two children, Mackenzie, age seven (home from school with a cough), and Carter, age 20-months, were watching cartoons in the living room as I rushed up and down the hallway in our ranch-style home, tugging on socks, finding my boots. My husband, who stays home with the kids a couple of days during the week, was still in the process of waking up for a full day of “Mr. Mom”.

On a sweep of the living room, I extracted my son from his high chair, where he was finishing up his dry cheerios and sippy cup full of milk. Realizing Carter was in need of a new diaper, I decided not to leave my newly awakened husband to deal with potential stink, and figured I’d do my speedy mom change. I was expecting a mess, but when I unwrapped my son, the diaper was sopping wet, not gross. One hurdle jumped, with no skinned knees...yes!

After putting him in a new diaper, I quickly snapped the three snaps on his onesie, grabbing his footie pajama bottoms in order to quickly stuff his legs and feet into them. Of course, Carter decided, in his one-year-old wisdom, the moment was perfect for the “let’s see how long it takes mom to catch my legs and put them in my pants” game…which, don’t get me wrong, is fun after evening bath time, but now, with the morning minutes ticking away, was definitely NOT fun.

I decided my husband could find appropriate leg wear, and set my son down on the floor, where he promptly ran to jump up and down on his toddler bed, celebrating his pantless state…whatever, I thought, I have to go. Plus, I was past my second hurdle, and ready to sprint to the finish line (the interior of my vehicle). As I quickly scanned Carter’s room to make sure there was nothing he could get into before his father caught up with him, I spotted a lump. A lump, which at first glance, appeared to be an item of clothing that had somehow evaded the clothes hamper.

On closer inspection, however, the “clothing” turned out to be a pile of vomit, thanks to our German Shepherd, Schatzi (you can imagine!). As the third hurdle reared up to trip me, I quickly sped toward the kitchen, yelling to my husband along the way, “I’ll get the barf into the Wal-Mart bag, if you spray the stain and clean it up, ‘cos I have to get to work!”

Even though I was slightly panicked by this point, I still managed to grab a wad of paper towels and the plastic shopping bag. I was feeling pretty good under the circumstances, having leaped over the threatening third hurdle with success, when Mackenzie, standing at Carter’s bedroom door, yelled, “Eeewww, he’s stepping in it!” “He” being Carter, “it” being dog puke.

Racing down the hall with the bag and paper towels still in my hand, I dropped them both just outside the bedroom door, in time to see Carter with a look of dismay in his eyes and his mouth dropped open in distaste, a wail permeating the air. His toes and half of his right foot were placed in the edge of the vomit pile, and he was frozen in place, surprised by the sensation on his body. Rushing over and grabbing him with my left arm circling around his chest, I raced across the hall to the bathroom. Placing his bottom on the edge of tub, and holding him with my left arm still across his chest, I pulled his right leg over toward the faucet, and tried to get his toes rinsed off under the running water.

It was then that I noticed the brown, gritty puke had oozed its way between his pudgy pink toes, creating quite a contrast. Still holding Carter securely with my left arm, gritting my teeth, I used my fingers on my right hand to get the areas between his toes clean, before I grabbed the bar of soap on the other side of the tub to wash them more thoroughly. Ok, now the fourth hurdle had not only made me stumble, but had bloodied both my knees.

I still managed to dry Carter’s foot off, grab the plastic bag and paper towels that were still lying in the middle of the hallway where I had dropped them earlier, and got the worst chunks of dog barf off Carter’s carpet with the paper towels before dropping the mess in the bag. That being done, I raced to the kitchen, tossed the sodden bag into the trashcan, and dashed into the bathroom to give my hands a quick wash. Yanking open the hall closet door, I grabbed my coat and stuffed my arms into the sleeves. Sighing, I ran into the living room, gave my son, daughter and husband (who, by this time, had wandered out of the bedroom) hasty kisses with a breathy “Love you guys”, and bolted to the kitchen door connecting to the garage.

As I barreled around the back of my SUV, yanked opened the car door, and jumped into the driver’s seat, I became aware that I actually had managed to start my car before the morning’s drama had unfolded, so the car’s welcoming warmth enveloped me on the bitterly cold day. One thing had gone right, and for that I was thankful.

Actually, I thought, as I drove the few minutes to school, even though it had been a hectic morning, I wouldn’t trade my life as a working mother for anything. Yes, mornings are often hectic (though this particular day was quite a bit more dramatic than most), but I am able to fulfill my desire to mother my own children, as well as reach my career goal of being a teacher. I am given the opportunity to guide other children to success; not to mention I also am able to escape the craziness that sometimes accompanies motherhood. I am fortunate to be a working mother who teaches in a school system that allows me to have summers off, which alleviates a bit of the guilt associated with leaving my children to go to work.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the middle school, only a few minutes late, I took a deep breath to prepare for the school day. I had made it not only to the finish line, but was emerging triumphant at my place of employment, albeit with a few scratches. Glad for a bit of perspective, I looked forward to the day of teaching, knowing new adventures would await me upon returning home; adventures that make life interesting and ones I wouldn’t miss for the world.
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