7.57:00 am – I do a final cattle call for everyone to board the ‘school express’ that is currently welcoming passengers in the garage. There’s no need to show your tickets, just put your school bag and hat in the boot, climb on in to the car and do your seatbelt up. Let’s go.
7:57:10 – Two older boys have managed to find the door into the garage. Don’t be too impressed that they have done this within ten seconds because I have been gently encouraging them since 7:45 to put their bag in the car and get in. The twenty metres between the television and garage door is the longest journey of the day and can take up to fifteen minutes at times.
7:57:15 – Same two boys begin to argue because they have both tried to squeeze through the door at the same time, unsuccessfully. Push has come to shove and one is sporting a sore shoulder from banging into the door frame and the other has managed to trip over his own feet. They are blaming each other.
The two younger boys are still chasing the dogs and each other in the backyard and are, conveniently, unable to hear me calling them.
7:57:35 – The two older boys have found the boot and thrown their school bags in it. They both land upside down which means that the entire contents of their lunch boxes has now been upended and will resemble scrambled dog food. This will not look appetizing come lunch time so it will not be eaten. Instead, it will come home untouched at the end of the day, resulting in another lecture from me about how our World Vision children would kill for such a feast.
The two younger boys are still playing in the backyard. They now look at me when I call them, but ignore my voice and hand gestures as I wave at them. I am worthy of a place on the Olympic Charade team.
7:58:00 – The two older boys are now sitting in the car, arguing because one shut the door too hard. There is a permanent seating arrangement in the car: birth order numbers 1,3 and 4 cram in the backseat together and number 2 sits in the spacious passenger seat, even though he is the skinniest of the lot. This is because he and number 3 have a symbiotic relationship akin to petrol and flame. The only other seating option is to put one of them in the boot, but I am told this is illegal.
7:58:20 – The two younger boys are still in the backyard and are smiling at me as my voice climbs to a sopranic rant. They continue to play.
7:58:30 – I open the back door and tell them that if they don’t get into the car right now they will never see the inside of a packet of crisps or icecream wrapper again. They move faster than the speed of light and hurl themselves into the back seat, squashing number 1 in the process. Number 2 smiles smugly from the front seat.
7:58:40 – I ask if everyone has remembered their hats. Eight eyeballs stare blankly at me. I get out of the car, retrieve said hats from the garage shelf, mumble a quiet profanity, and throw the hats in the car.
7:58:50 – I start the engine. Number 4 is hitting number 1 because he doesn’t want his older brother to clip his seatbelt in. He wants to do it himself, but then gets frustrated because he can’t do it himself. Number 1 offers to help, which results in physical abuse from number 4 in the form of tiny, fisty punches.
7:59:00 – Number 3 has started to make the world’s most annoying sound – ‘eeeeeooooooo, eeeeeeeooooooooo, eeeeeeeeeeooooooooooo’ at approximately 97 decibels. Symbiotic relationship with number 2 kicks into action and we have lift off – a volcanic eruption from number 2 and a satisfied grin from number 3 as he continues his unmelodious screech.
7:59:10 – I groan, inwardly and silently, so hard that my lungs deflate. I then allow myself to fondly reminisce about the days when leaving the garage was a easy as getting in the car, turning the engine on and reversing.
7:59:20 – An ear piercing scream snaps me out of my daydream and back to reality. Number 4 has pinched number 1, who is now clutching his upper arm in pain. I tell number 4 that his behaviour is not ok. He bursts into tears. We haven’t even reversed out of the garage yet and everything’s turned to hell already.
7:59:30 – I lose my shit.
7:59:55 – I continue to lose my shit.
8:00:30 – I am still losing my shit.
8:00:45 – I have finished losing my shit. The car is filled with stunned silence.
8:01:00 – During the minute of losing my shit I have reversed out of the driveway and we are now only 2 minutes from school. The car is still filled with stunned silence.
8:01:30 – The guilt hormone is released from my endocrine system at the rate of an overflowing dam. I am the world’s worst mother. All I do is yell at my kids – just ask my neighbours, they’ll tell you. I don’t deserve kids.
8:01:45 – No, really. These kids are great. I’d give them the beating heart out of my chest if they needed it. Look at them. They can’t help it – they’re kids for god’s sake! I’m the adult. It is not OK to lose my shit.
8:02:00 – I apologise for losing my shit, although I phrase it in kid-friendly terms. I tell them how much I love them and that I don’t want to be a screaming mummy. If they would do as they were told and not fight with each other, we could all live happily ever after. They all nod. I smile, even though I know, without a doubt, that if I were to ask them to repeat what I had just said, no one would be able to do it.
8:02:30 – We are nearing the school gate and all chatting happily.
8:02:45 – We pull up in the car park and get ready to unpack the bags and walk into school. I am so thankful for the last 15 seconds of family happiness that I feel like a true earth mother. Maybe I am a better mother than I give myself credit for? After all, 15 seconds of no fighting, screeching, tears or punching is pretty good!