I am a planner. Google calendar is my friend. I have five kids’ and two adults’ calendars on my phone, with alerts programmed to mine and theirs (though the youngest two don’t have phones yet). If you don’t put it on the calendar, I make no promises. Even with the best laid plans, in my life, in a blended family of seven, I often resort to hanging on to the top, spinning with controlled chaos, and waiting for the slow steady revolution of a calmer day — if it comes, it lasts only until you have a split second to breathe, and it spins again.
It started on a Friday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. Up to that point, my day had been relatively uneventful. We were going to have the three teenagers scattered for the night, but rides were arranged and I was planning a low-key, dinner-and-a-movie evening at home with the younger two. Then I got the email. And the chain of events, thought not all directly related, unfolded over the next three days and the top began to whir.
“I am not going to make it home in time to go get the check, so can you go by and pick it up? I will send directions. By the way, I forgot my phone at home today.”
Okay, so, I knew he forgot his phone at home since he drove two hours out of town and I hadn’t heard from him all day, and when I checked, it was still on his night stand. And I knew I might have to go pick the check up. But considering it was 4:00, and I had not heard from him (after all, he was with people with phones) and since he had to pick the girls up from their mother’s by 6:00, I thought he must have gotten out on time. When I got his email at 4:20, I was at the grocery store getting dinner. I flew home, dropped the groceries, got back in the car and raced to his office. While reading his email telling me to hurry up so he could get to the girls, I missed my turn, drove 10 minutes out of the way, because I am still learning my way around my new city, and barely made it to get the check by 5:00.
Phew! Now the relaxing evening can begin, I thought, as I drove at a more reasonable pace to drop the check in the ATM, and stop to get a bottle of wine at the Rite-Aid, and get $20 extra for the one going to the movie later. Wrong. When I got home, his phone rang and it was daughter number one. She began to explain a change in plans that included her mom dropping her off at a birthday party (this was planned) and then bringing daughter number two to our house instead of him picking her up as usual (this was not planned). Apparently, the ex had left him an unreceived message indicating this change earlier in the day. I explained the forgotten phone situation to daughter number one, and told her I couldn’t get a message to him, but if needed, daughter number two could be dropped off at our house, and he would just realize it when he got to her mother’s house. Long pause for relay of this information to the mother, followed by the mother taking the phone. A repeat explanation of the forgotten phone and she is dropping daughter number two by our house. Daughter number two gets dropped by (late) and I race to the mother’s house to try to catch him so that he doesn’t worry why she is not there. Before I make it, my phone rings and he is calling from our house. Oh well, I tried.
I fixed dinner (late) and fed those that were home. Son number one was at the football game playing in the band, daughter number one was at the birthday party, and son number two was headed out to the movie. Husband and I caught each other up on our day before I started son number three and daughter number two toward bed. By the time they were in bed, husband leaves to get oldest two home by ten. All go to bed and I lay half asleep waiting on son number two to get back from movie that he shouldn’t have been allowed to attend, because the 8:00 p.m. show was sold out and the 9:00 p.m. ended past his curfew. Oh well. I tried.
The next two days went something like this: Son number three (who is kid number four) and I arise at 5:45 a.m. to get to his swim meet an hour away. Husband and kids one, two, three and five get up thirty minutes later to squeeze in every ounce of sleep and meet us at the swim meet. Meet ends by noon, we grab lunch and everyone goes to get a Christmas tree since the next time we are all together will be two weeks away. I skip the tree purchase to run by the store to get hot chocolate and jeans for son number two who told me the day before that he only had one pair for his upcoming week-long trip with his father.
Husband bought tree with lightning-quick speed, and calls to see where I am. I rush home to get decorating started. Son number two thinks that everything is taking too long, and moves from the couch to couch lamenting this torture. Son number three and daughter number two are giddy and “helpful” getting into everything and impatiently waiting to be able to put the ornaments on. Son number one keeps disappearing to play guitar and/or text his girlfriend who he is trying to arrange to come to the movie in the street downtown later, because we are trying to fit some “fun” into the weekend. Daughter number one helpfully puts lights on the tree in the foyer, only to discover when she gets to the end that she has a receiving end plug for the lights and can’t plug them in to the wall.
“I have a problem,” is followed by her walking off and leaving me to re-do the lights. We finally got things decorated with EVERYONE pitching in, like it or not, and in the midst of me making popcorn and daughter number one making hot chocolate (or should I say “burning” hot chocolate) to take to the movie. I realize I have not considered that this brood might need to eat dinner, and we are minutes away from leaving for the movie. We stop to grab dinner at a drive-through and eat on the way to the movie. We get to the movie and set up seven camp chairs, distribute popcorn and burnt hot chocolate, console son number one whose girlfriend cancelled to get her ears pierced, and shivered though an unusually cold (for Lower Alabama) night.
Sunday, son number three and I got up at 6:00 a.m. to get to day two of the swim meet an hour away. Husband and kids one, two, three and five slept late and went to church. Son number three and I grabbed a calm lunch on the way home, arrived home to get son number one ready for symphony practice, and then youth group (which he now will not miss due to the girlfriend’s attendance of the same group), got daughters one and two ready to return to their mother’s and got sons one, two and three to shower and make lunch boxes before hitting the bed.
Husband and I hit the bed not sure how we were going to get up the next day, and realizing that we have not gone to the grocery store for the week. Oh well, we tried.