Last Wednesday morning started off bad from the get-go. I snoozed one too many times, woke the kids up in a panic, didn’t have time to make lunches so everyone had to be a “tray”, and my lifeline (Mr. Right) was out of town. With three kids at three different schools, I had to leave extra early to not make anyone, heaven forbid—TARDY. This idea is unspeakable and unacceptable to my organized, scheduled, always punctual oldest son who was definitely not helping matters by announcing time checks every 10-minutes, as if I wasn’t already in panic mode. With B’s final declaration it was evident that we were late. It was unavoidable—someone wasn’t getting to school on time. Too late to call friends to grab one of my kids, we jumped in the car with shoes, breakfasts, and book bags in hand.
“Get your shoes on then finish eating. I’m taking B to school first so he’s not tardy. Then, I’ll take Sister and Willie J,” I announced. With mouths full of food, everyone nodded in agreement.
I started welling up with pride as I made it through the 6th grade drop-off in record time. With ten minutes to spare before the tardy bell rang at the elementary school, I kicked it into gear arrogantly confident I could make it. Bobbing and weaving, I anticipated traffic and detoured here and there to get Sister to school on time.
We pulled up to the 3rd grade drop off with a minute to spare.
“Run as fast as you can, Sister. Go! Go!” I barked at her from the car as her side-pony bounced fiercely down the catwalk.
I thought, Yes! I did it! Those kids are so lucky to have me as their mother. With 30-minutes until Willie J had to be at school, I had time to run back home and regroup. Suddenly, my phone rang.
“Mom! I forgot my homework. You’ve got to bring it to me immediately,” B blurted through the school office phone.
“Seriously? Can’t I just email your teacher?” I asked.
“No way! My argumentative paper, outline, and notes are due this morning. I’ve worked so hard on it, and I’m afraid my teacher will be so mad.”
I could tell B was panicked, so I assured him that everything would arrive in pristine condition and on-time, which meant in 5-minutes.
No problem. You’ve got this, Brooke, I said to myself. All I had to do was drive from the elementary school to the house, get the homework, and drive to B’s school in 5-minutes—no sweat.
I turned the corner to cut through a neighborhood. I came to the four way stop and as soon as I saw there wasn’t a soul in sight, I floored it. I screeched my tires as I sped off causing William to yell, “Whee! This is fun!” from his car seat. I looked in the rearview mirror to give him a little wink and then I saw it, flashing lights.
I pulled over, got my license and insurance card ready. The officer approached and took my information then returned to my side.
“Ma’am, do you realize how fast you were going?” he asked.
“No sir. I’m so sorry if I was speeding. I was trying to get over to the Intermediate School for my son and was in a hurry.”
“I see you have a little one in the backseat. You need to abide by the speed limits for other’s safety as well as your own kid’s,” he preached.
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry,” I replied ashamedly. I thought, I am a terrible person. Tears welled up in my eyes and the crying ensued. I yelled out, “Serenity now!” as the officer was walking back to the patrol car. When he heard me, he turned and made his way back to my window.
“Ma’am, you seem a little out of control. You’re going to need to step out of the car.”
My heartbeat became rapid, “What? Oh, please no! I’m not dressed.”
“Ma’am, please do as I ask.”
Fearfully, I stepped out of the car. I had on a gray Young Life t-shirt (no bra), light blue PJ Harlow pajama pants (if you don’t own a pair—what are you waiting for?), and lamb slippers with my aviator sunglasses.
As the officer digested what he was seeing, all he could muster was, “Oh my word.” I stood as fellow parents passed and witnessed the spectacle that was/is my life. I cried a very controlled yet constant stream of tears as I realized that I was no longer going to be able to keep up pretenses. This was me, standing in front of all the parents that have it all together saying, “I’m a hot mess. I am anything but all-together.”
“Ma’am, please don’t cry. I feel terrible. Obviously, it has been one of those mornings. You can get back in your car.” I got back in and sat completely humiliated. He handed me my ticket and whispered a sincere, “Have a nice day.”
I glanced at the ticket and saw that it was marked, “Warning.” I took a deep breath in relief. Unfortunately, B would not be as gracious. My arriving late with his paper caused us to get very argumentative about his argumentative essay—thank goodness for gracious teachers.
The next morning, I heard a light knock on the front door. When I got there, a police car was driving away. On my doorstep was a dozen, hot, Warehouse Bakery donuts with a note…