Have you ever played Jenga? It’s a pretty neat little game, but I never realized that being a mom includes being really good at Jenga. Real life Jenga.
In case you’re not familiar, Jenga is that game with small wooden rectangles that you stack very cautiously and sometimes seemingly precariously, and then hold your breath that they don’t all topple over… And just as you slowly get that last piece at the top of the tower in place, the toddler or crawling baby will happen to whiz right into it, knocking the tower in every direction and causing screams and cries from all those involved. And then for the next two weeks, these Jenga rectangles will show up in every corner of the house, downstairs and upstairs, garage, kitchen and bathtub. At first you will collect them and put them back in the cool cylinder Jenga container, but at a certain point – depending on the type of day you are having – you will throw them in the garbage.
At least that’s the version of Jenga we play here in my house.
The real version includes very carefully pulling out random rectangles without the tower crashing to the ground.
Being a mom means constantly trying to stack all your to-dos and to-gos – cleaning, organizing, laundry, dentist, doctors, well visit and sick visit appointments; snacks, meals and a million other things – in a very organized, neat and sometimes seemingly precarious stack, like the most delicate of puzzles, so that everyone gets to the right places at the right time on the right day. It takes lots of planning and most days the meticulously laid plans work like a charm.
But that’s not the art of mastering being a mom.
The real art is when your carefully crafted Jenga plans come crashing down – and you don’t crash with it. You stay calm, cool and collected. You don’t get angry or frustrated, just like I tell my kids to act when their tower is destroyed.
I had Thursday planned out perfectly.
Drop the middle division of kids off at 9:30. Two youngest stay with me and we will zip back over, in only 20 minutes, to pick up the oldest division. We will head on over to the doctor, only 10 minutes away, for flu shots. Take them back to their online school classes. I’ll be home by 11 or 11:15, give the toddler an early lunch and then he will go for his three hour nap. I’ll get the baby settled and then ahh…the things I will do. It’s the first short Friday of the year tomorrow and I will do it right – getting in lots of Shabbos cooking on Thursday. I will catch up on emails waiting to be sent. Various other odds and ends that are waiting since Monday and now it’s Thursday. The perfect Jenga creation.
As we are leaving the doctor’s office, I get a phone call. Preschool is calling to say it looks like my 3 year old has pink eye. I’m in the doctor’s office. What better place to be. Except for the fact that he’s not there with me. Preschool has a policy of mom-pick-up-child-immediately if there is a suspicion of pink eye.
I describe it to my doctor who says he can’t diagnose without seeing it. Fair enough.
I feel my carefully stacked Jenga blocks being slowly pulled out…my tower is starting to shake ever so slightly.
I take the kids back to where they were studying and off we go, back to preschool, with a strong sense of déjà vu. I pick up my 3 year old and start heading to the doctor yet again. Seems way to familiar.
The baby seems to be hungry, of course. I know that by the sound of his newbornish baby cry filling the car for the whole 20 minute drive.
My nerves are getting a little frayed…this was not in my plans today!
The doctor looks at my 3 year old – whose eyes look great and have cleared up. Just like that.
He can go back to school. It is not pink eye. The doctor offers me a prescription for eye drops, should pink eye decide to surface over the weekend.
I’m already 2 hours behind schedule..and I’m hungry. I didn’t take food or my water bottle with me.
I want to go home. I can’t bear to think of going the 20 minutes back to preschool for the third time in one morning. I figure it’s more worthwhile to head to Target to fill the prescription for just in case,and then head home.
And anyways, when your day is messed up, Target is always a good solution.
I head to Target, get the baby with his car seat into the shopping cart, toddler in the front seat and three year old walking.
But the baby insists on reminding me he is a newborn and newborns don’t like Target.
So I carry the baby in one arm, pull the cart with the other, that now houses the empty infant seat and the toddler and my three year old.
And did I mention I have no food or drink.
My Jenga tower is slowly crashing to the ground.
The 10 minute wait for the prescription to be filled took 30 minutes. I waited at the Pharmacy, to hungry to do my usual Target stroll through all the different sections. I just wanted to get home.
We finally head to the car.
I pull into the garage 3three and half hours after I had planned, and there’s less than two hours left before having to start my pickups.
My Jenga blocks are everywhere. I don’t even want to check my to do list and my carefully laid plans. And hungry mommies are not happy mommies.
So I haven’t quite mastered my game of Jenga. I’m still working on it.