If you’re going to be me tomorrow, you’ll need to know the following:
You will be woken up by the sound of your door opening, and you’ll be able to tell, without opening your eyes, which child is coming through the door to crawl into bed with you. The boy will have sure, confident steps and will run and leap onto the bed—landing on your right side. The girl will stumble in an uneven stride, still wiping the sleep from her eyes, come to your left side and pull on the sheets because she still needs help getting up onto your bed. She’ll demand cuddles but won’t tolerate kisses this early in the morning. They’ll all be wiped off, and she’ll yell, “Stoppy!” at you if you persist. For her, everything has a -y attached at the moment so the translation of her toddler-speak will take a minute. Dogg-y, stopp-y, hund-y—except for “Mama.” That one is the same.
Your husband is already getting the coffee ready and cooking eggs. He’ll zip into the shower and will be dressed in his work clothes in less time than it takes you to drink your coffee. He’s efficient, that one. The kids will refuse eggs but will demand yogurt in a squeezy pouch (the girl) and a peanut butter slathered flour tortilla (the boy). Every day they want the same things, so go ahead and prepare that yogurt pouch now before the girl starts making crab-claw motions at you.
You’ll need to get the kids out of the door by 8:15 if they are going to make it on time at 8:30 even though school is only a five-minute walk away. The boy loves to run ahead and then back again to check on his sister. Silly-walking takes more time than regular walking, so you’ll need this extra buffer.
Allow the girl to climb out of the stroller herself—she’s independent but still likes to ride around. She can balance herself carefully on the edge—don’t worry, she won’t fall. It’s good to drop off the girl first at her classroom with a quick “Hej hej, god morgon!” to her teachers. A quick hug goodbye and a squeeze of the hand is usually enough for her to walk off calmly. Always wave and say a cheerful, “Hej då!” as you head out of the classroom even if she is no longer paying attention. She hears you. She loves her school, but she is often slow to warm up in the mornings.
When you drop off the boy, you may find him clinging to your leg or unable to let go of your arm, which is such a change from his independent running and skipping behavior on the way to school. He acts brave and independent, but he needs you to gently remind him that he will have fun today. He will laugh, play, and jump off of high things. He wants to play, but he knows he will miss you. Use your time away from them wisely.
When the kids are deposited at preschool, it’s time for you to head back home and get to work. You need to answer emails, check your social media pages, Tweet, re-Tweet, and start generating new material. Be creative now. Turn it on like a faucet but don’t pressure yourself, or it won’t flow. Got it?
You will be most productive after a second cup of coffee as soon as you get home. Always do the one thing you don’t want to do first. Get that mental roadblock out of the way so you can focus on the easier items. After a few hours, take the dog for a walk. The fresh air will help clear your mind.
Soon enough, it’ll be time to pick up the kids from school. As soon as they see you, they will run to the chain link fence and shout your name, hopping up and down. Be sure to visit at least one of their teachers in each class to ask how their days went.
Sometimes their Swedish is fast, so keep your ears sharp and look for cues in their eyes and hand gestures. Don’t ask questions in English; they won’t answer you. If you don’t understand something, just nod and say, “Okej, ha det bra! Vi ses imorgon!” and then ask the boy what really happened. If you don’t do this within the first two minutes after leaving the gates, you won’t get any answer out of him.
Head to the nearest playground and stay away from the house for a while. They need a little time to transition from the school environment before going home. Without this buffer, they will immediately look for instant comfort—movies. This seems like a tempting idea because you still have a lot of work to do but don’t fall into that trap! Watching a movie right after school will only lead to begging and tears that you don’t want to deal with later. Keep them outside for as long as possible and when in doubt, take them out back to kick the soccer ball around.
Your husband will come home around 6 pm and will cook up a fabulously delicious and nutritious dinner, which the kids will ignore for a repeat of breakfast—yogurt and a peanut butter tortilla. Enjoy the ten minutes of relative quiet you have with your husband, dinner, and wine, and then start the dance ritual of bath time.
Currently, the kids are falling asleep to either a Pippi Longstocking or James and the Giant Peach audiobook. They alternate every night, and there is usually some bickering over which one we listened to last night. They want their feet touching you while they fall asleep—one final touch to the mother-anchor before drifting off to dream. They are safe and secure. You are providing them that gift, that privilege.