Sometimes, things take place that defy any explanation other than, "because I’m a parent."
Because I’m a parent, my morning routine is usually a hectic one. As with most mornings, my wife got up before me today at around 5:30 in the morning and took her shower. After losing yet another battle with the snooze button, I got up and made the bed as she washed, relieved myself at the toilet, and then stood bleary-eyed on the scales while the morning news blared from the television. Luckily I got the order right once again. Once she got out of the shower, I entered and felt a bit of life return to my body as I escaped to within the warmth of the shower. The moment was brief though as my morning routine had only just begun.
Because I’m a parent, I rushed out of the shower, combed my hair and applied deodorant. My wife will usually have selected the kid’s outfits by now, but on this morning she was feeling a little rough from a nasty cold, so I filled in her duties. I got dressed and ran into each child’s bedroom with a morning greeting and a flick of the light switch. My rebuttal was that of groans and heads tucked further beneath the covers. I offered up another cheerful and melodic salutation as I selected each outfit, followed by a more stern, but often repeated, "Come on guys, we’re running late!"
Because I’m a parent, I grabbed each kid’s shoes out of their respective closets and placed them at the top of the stairs. I then returned and made each bed as I heard the television station changed to the Disney channel. I issued another warning of "get dressed NOW" in my stern daddy-voice as I smoothed the last wrinkles from the Sleeping Beauty comforter in my daughter’s Princess-themed room. Returning to my room with combs, brush and detangling conditioner in hand, I found the pajamas spread somehow amongst the farthest corners of the room. Gathering her nightshirt and his pajamas, I tossed them in the hallway to remind me to take them to their rooms to fold. I shoved her panties in my pocket and clumsily started to spray my daughter’s hair with conditioner to straighten out her locks. His poker straight hair was a bit easier to comb, although his two cowlicks still defied my best head press.
Because I’m a parent, I barked out orders for each kid to head to the kitchen downstairs and to not forget their shoes. I grabbed the pajamas in the hall and quickly folded and placed each on the respective kid’s bed. Gathering my cell phone (used as my alarm), empty water glass, and hair-grooming tool, I juggled each item to the end of the hall where I picked up two pairs of shoes with the very tips of available fingers. I carried all items down stairs to the kitchen, dropped the shoes to the floor, placed the combs on the table and laid my phone isolated next to the re-charger. The Disney Channel crooned from the family room.
Because I’m a parent, I poured two glasses of orange juice and retrieved two Flintstones vitamins and laid them on the kitchen table. I tossed Cinnamon French Toaster Sticks (ONLY Aunt Jemima brand) into the microwave for my son and poured a bowl of "Daddy Cheerio’s" (Multigrain) into a bowl for my daughter. As the toaster sticks nuked, I poured coffee, V8 and more Daddy Cheerios for my wife and announced to the kids that their juice was on the table. The sticks being done, I placed grape jelly on one side of the pile and syrup on the other side, just as I do every day. Both breakfasts were placed on the table with an announcement that "breakfast is ready, so turn off the TV." I placed my wife’s breakfast, plus toast, on a tray and ran it to her back upstairs so that she could continue to get herself ready on time. Disney was still playing on our TV.
Because I’m a parent, I returned to the family room, turned off the TV and used the daddy-voice once again to urge the kids to the breakfast table. As I packed lunches, I answered the daily questions of "Is this Fred Flintstone?" "Which one has the mountain hair (Bam-Bam)?" "Is Dino a dog or a dinosaur?" and "Who ARE the Flintstones anyway?"
Because I’m a parent, I fixed my breakfast (Jimmy Dean omelet and bacon) last and ate it as I continued to pack the lunches and ensure I had the right homework in the right backpack. I poured my wife a travel mug full of coffee and placed her lunch by the door. As I packed my lunch, I noticed one child was missing and the other finger-painting a masterpiece on his plate with grape jelly. By some miracle, his shirt remained clean. The bathroom door closed and my daughter returned to the table, while announcing that the cat was making strange noises in the living room.
Because I’m a parent, I cleaned the cat barf off the carpet while barking orders to the kids to "PLEASE finish your breakfast and go brush your teeth." A blur ran by me with a recognizable voice saying, "gottagoluvyyahaveanicedaybye" and I swear I felt a kiss on my lips. I returned the near empty keg of pet stain remover and washed my hands as each child made their own interpretation of the earlier cat noises.
Because I’m a parent, I grabbed a plate of half-eaten toaster sticks and a near full bowl of Multigrain Cheerios and growled, "brush your teeth NOW" in my grizzliest of bear voices. Both kids ran to their bathroom as if their lives depended on it as I loaded the dishwasher and packed my briefcase. I eventually went back upstairs with comb, brush, and conditioner in hand to my own bedroom where I was greeted by the sounds of the Disney Channel. I ran an electric razor over my face, brushed my teeth, combed my hair and put on my shoes. I stuffed a wallet in one pocket and a handkerchief in another as I felt the sniffles coming on, having apparently been transferred in the earlier run-by kiss from my wife. I turned off the TV (finally) and found that my daughter was just starting to brush her teeth as a couple gallons of toothpaste-laden water drained from the sink from my sons’ tooth brushing. My growl had turned to a surrendering sigh and a plea to PLEASE hurry up.
Because I’m a parent, I helped my son tie his shoes in a proper double knot and handed him his jacket. I loaded my briefcase and lunch box into the car and clipped the now lifeless cell phone onto my belt. As the car warmed up, I returned inside the house and tied my daughter’s shoes and wiped the toothpaste off her mouth. She put on her jacket and both kids grabbed their backpacks and headed to the car. I turned out the lights, gave the cat a stare as he belched, and headed for the car myself. My kids teased me that I placed the wrong water bottles in their backpacks, so I corrected the error as they stared frozen and unable to comprehend they could have corrected this themselves.
Because I’m a parent, I drove carefully to the school despite running at least 15 minutes later than planned. I pulled up to the school, and reminded each child to give me a hug and kiss. I assured each that I loved them and that their mom would be picking them up after school. I watched the tikes walk into the big building in my rearview mirror as I drove off to work.
Because I’m a parent, I arrived at a workplace I enjoy, but sometimes wonder if it’s what I really want to do in my life. I looked at the photographs of my kids and their original artwork posted on my cubicle walls and realized, once again, that I do it for the kids, so they can have the things they need. My wife and I endure work, adult responsibilities and our own illnesses in order to give our children all that we can. Mentally recharged, I headed to the daily morning production meeting, at which I’m always expected a little late. I quietly walked in and took my place to lean against a side table when I felt the sniffles coming back. As I felt the sneeze rise, I reached for my handkerchief and let out a large sneeze.
And because I’m a parent, I stood before my colleagues with a pair of pink Cinderella panties pressed against my face.