The never-ending race. The constant, all-consuming anxiety that starts and ends my day. Each day, even sometimes on the weekends, I feel like a racecar whose engine is max out at ninety thousand RPMs.
I’m racing as I write this, with five minutes before the kids come home from grandma’s. I race even in my sleep. Up on and off throughout the night, I’m constantly counting the possible hours of sleep I may get. “Okay, if I fall asleep now, I’ll have maybe four consistent hours.” Then, before I know it, the alarm rings. Get up, and race to take a shower, hurrying before the kids wake up and start crying and calling for you. Race to get dressed so you can make breakfast and get the kids ready. Race out to start the car in the frigid, negative degree weather.
“Come on guys, get your teeth brush. Why aren’t you dressed yet? Shut that TV off and get your shoes on. Don’t forget your book bag. Where’s your hat? Stop fighting and get in the car, please!”
Race to daycare. Race to unload the kids. Race through hugs, kisses and goodbyes. Race to school. “Okay, prepare for departure. Seatbelt off.” As I pull around the drop off loop. “Okay, hop out. Love you. Have a good day. Hurry up or you’ll be late.” Then race to work and in the process develop a pulsing headache because you’re trapped behind a car that consistently goes forty miles an hour, regardless of the speed limit. Race through your work day. Only to end up racing home and getting stuck behind yet another vehicle hell-bent on killing you with its lethargic speed. White knuckled hands grip the steering wheel. There’s no way to pass without killing yourself or someone else. Finally they turn and you feel your jaw unclench briefly as you contemplate your next move.
Do you race to the store and grab what you need for dinner or do you pick up the kids first. The thought of dragging the kids to the store in the freezing cold, loading and unloading and loading and unloading causes your jaw to clench again. But the guilt at having left the kids at daycare for eight and a half hours puts away any thought of a quick store stop.
So you race on to pick up the oldest and then the youngest. And you race to the store. Inside you push the cart like it’s the Daytona 500. Flying past slow shoppers, the wheels on the cart squealing as you take the corner of the coffee aisle too sharply. The baby is tired and everyone is hungry. You have less than five minutes to get the rest of what you need and get out before all goes to hell. As you race to load exhausted and staved children and groceries, your oldest says “Oh mom, I forgot, I have practice at six.” You look at the clock, it’s five fifty. So you race home to get practice clothes and then you race to drop him off at practice and then again, you race home. Lugging children, book bags, and groceries, you race to get inside and meet everyone’s individual needs as you race to get dinner ready. Racing through dinner, dishes, homework, and baths, you remember the oldest has to be picked up at eight and it’s ten after. So you race to put coats, hats, and boots on and once again, load everyone back up to race down to practice. Once home, you find yourself racing to get everyone to bed, because they’re either exhausted and completely miserable or your exhausted and completely miserable, from the very effort of the great race.
Honestly, I’d put any mother with young children on a racecar track. I think they’d be a formidable opponent against the very best that NASCAR has to offer.