It was one of those rare afternoons when both my girls were down for a nap, the toys were picked up, our condo was in some sort of organized and clean order, and I had taken care of the essentials for myself (I was showered and had eaten). I decided I would get started on dinner for the evening.
I looked at my list of dinners I planned for that week, and tonight’s meal was red beans and rice. Running my finger down the list of ingredients on the recipe card, I decided I had the time to chop everything before the girls woke up.
Soon onion, celery, and green pepper were all in neat piles on my cutting board ready to be sautéed and not a peep had come from the girls’ room. I glanced at the rest of the ingredients and read the steps for the recipe. If I worked quickly, I guessed that I could prepare everything now and just let it simmer until dinner. Then all that needed to be done would be to cook the rice. Easy.
I decided to make a go of it. I was excited. I was racing against a clock that had an unknown time limit. And even though I knew the potential for things to get crazy when the girls woke up was great, the excitement of getting something done was too much for me to stop. I grabbed the andouille sausage from the freezer and dropped it in the pot just when my 5 month old Harper woke up. Like most babies who are on a 2 1/2 to 3-hour feeding schedule, I knew Harper would be hungry and not willing to wait until the sausage was a “nice, golden brown” like the recipe called for. But I didn’t want to stop cooking, so I gambled I could do two things at once. I put the lid on the pot, turned the stove to medium-high, and quickly made a bottle for Harper.
I rushed into the girls’ bedroom to get Harper, hoping she wouldn’t wake up her sister, grabbed the baby and headed into the living room. Harper takes what feels like nine months to finish her bottle. While I’m feeding her, I can hear the crackling and popping of the sausage on the stove. I wonder if maybe it would’ve been a good idea to coat the pot with olive oil before plunking frozen sausage in it. But I take comfort in the fact that I don’t see smoke coming from the kitchen.
After Harper has been burped, I put her on her play mat and go into the kitchen to see what the sausage is doing. I lift up the lid and jump back, startled from the smoke and the noise. Once I clear the smoke away I see that the tops of the sausage look fine, but the bottoms are completely black, as is the pot. I think the sausage can be salvaged, so I put it on a plate and run the pot under hot water to prepare to scrub it. By this point my oldest daughter Hadley wakes up, Harper has pooped through her clothes, and my house smells like a ballpark.
This is not the first incident where I’ve found myself in over my head because my home goes from peaceful to crazy in a matter of seconds. Like many mothers I know, we all have many moments like this one; sometimes several throughout the day. Ask a mom how she manages her day, and she may look at you like you’re speaking a foreign language.
Tara, who lives in Rockford, Michigan, has two boys; Cole (11) and Chase (8). She says that while she plans her days with her boys as much as she can, she also expects things will go haywire at least once a day.
“We told our boys that they needed to wear button down shirts the next day to school because it was picture day. I figured this would prevent any fights the next morning. What I didn’t prepare for was what to do when one of your sons decides to cut his own hair moments before we needed to leave for school that morning.”
Mindy, of Darnstown, MD can relate to Tara’s dilemma. She likes to workout in the mornings and brings her boys, Aiden (2) and Ryan (7 months) to the gym with her.
“They love the daycare which makes it much easier for me to workout because I know they’re happy.” Mindy packs her diaper bag with snacks, juice and bottles the night before so she can just grab her kids and go. However, despite all her preparations, she too, runs into problems. “I was literally on my way out when both my boys pooped at the same time.”
Celena, mother of 5 year old Joseph does her best to keep things under control in Chicago, Illinois. She jokes that she follows the Boy Scout of America motto: always be prepared.
“For example, DO NOT go into a grocery store at 6 at night with a hungry child without ammunition. I always have a water bottle, favorite Spiderman toy, paper and pen for coloring, and teddy grahams with me wherever I go. It has backfired on me, though. When I had a director’s meeting and was reaching around frantically in my briefcase for a pen, I grabbed the first thing I felt in my bag and yanked out a Power Ranger!”
Perhaps the best advice any mom can give another mom on how to manage the day is to keep a sense of humor about everything, and surround yourself with people who can support you on the days when things seem overwhelming. The day I turned our condo into a scene from Backdraft, my husband came home and, smelling the sausage said, “Play ball!” I put my head in my hands and mumbled something about being a failure. The kitchen was a mess, I was thinking we’d have peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, and I had worn myself out.
“Take a break,” my husband said. “Go leave for a bit. I’ll take care of it.” He was a saint.
I came back feeling refreshed but wondered what I’d walk into when I opened the door. The scene was incredible – Harper was asleep, the place was clean, Jesse and Hadley were reading books on the couch, and dinner was on the stove. I walked into the kitchen and lifted the lid on the pot. The red beans and rice smelled delicious. I poured some in bowls for my husband and me, as I chuckled a little at the events of the afternoon, and felt grateful that tonight things turned out just right.
— Callie Feyen
|Callie is a freelance writer and mother of two girls living in the Washington DC area. She loves reading and writing and her two favorite subjects are Hadley and Harper. You can hear more from Callie on her blog.