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A Mother’s Morning of Obstinate, Ornery Obstacles

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I was thinking to myself one morning, “Why do so many obstacles have to get in the way of my plan for a day?” And that was just in the morning; it hadn’t even hit nine o’clock yet. And this thought was compounded by the morning I’d had the day before, which dished up just as many different obstacles as this day was presenting to me.


Let’s start with the fact that I got up and wanted to make a cup of coffee. Before that could happen, I had to:


  1. Bring the laundry basket down the stairs.

  2. Sort all of the laundry and start a load.

  3. Empty the pile of dishes out of the drainer and set them on counters and stove tops where I would eventually put them away.

  4. Empty a box my husband had brought home from his mother’s house and conveniently left on the counter for me without explanation.

  5. Fill the dishwasher and turn it on.

  6. Make the elaborate breakfasts requested by my children, thereby dirtying more pans and dishes (but only after I had put away those pans and dishes from the drainer).

  7. Make the kids sandwiches for their school lunches.



Okay, then I made the cup of coffee. And then I got to read e-mail for a few minutes before it was time to get dressed. I had planned to take one dog for a walk after dropping the kids at school so I put on the appropriate walking attire. I got downstairs and put the lunches together until it was just about time to leave when my daughter tells my son, “It’s Sports Day.”


Oh no.


My son starts rattling off the four different sports items (representing four different sports, if you didn’t get that already) that he was going to wear that day but had forgotten—until his sister reminded him. Right before it was time to go.


I told him he had two minutes if he wanted to go change quickly. Up he ran and back down in a minute’s time, football jersey and soccer shorts adorned, while I’m looking around for his baseball cap and he’s looking for his basketball shoes. We both come up empty-handed, but at least he’s representing two sports. Two out of four ain’t half bad … well, maybe it is, but never mind already. And much better than yesterday when we got all the way to school and he had forgotten his backpack. And I had to go all the way back and get it, hopefully before school started. I was maybe one minute late, but we’ll blame that on all the slow and careful drivers out there. Never mind, again, that I know full well I should check before leaving that he has his backpack—I was just a little concerned about sports uniforms at the time.


So as I approach the school on this day, I see that there is a police officer parked in plain view watching the local drivers to make sure no one is going over twenty five. Normally, I spin my car around from one side of the street to the other to make a U-turn after I drop them off (does anyone know if this is legal? I have to look it up). But as I’m dropping them off, late already from the clothing change and trying to fit in a walk before a smog-check appointment, I’m now thinking I’m going to have to go all the way around the block when I leave making myself even more late. Good thing he wasn’t there when I got back to the car. But I had uselessly done all that worrying beforehand for nothing.


So, I get back home and my plan is to only take my golden retriever for the walk today because the day before I had taken all three dogs; they all got filthy, one got something in her ear, and the two little ones were pretty tired. Or so I hoped.


I had a good plan of attack. I was going to distract the attention of the little ones by giving them the leftover elaborate egg omelet-type thing my daughter had asked me to make for breakfast (which she didn’t really like) and then put the leash on Bo, my golden, and run like hell before the little ones noticed.


Ha. Fat chance. Lucy is not stupid. She immediately ran to the gate and started whimpering when she saw us go up the driveway. I stopped to look back at her and Bo gets out of his collar somehow, no idea how, and runs up the hill.


Okay, fine Lucy, now you get to go because I’m not even sure Bo will come back in time. So I go back in, get her harness and leash and sneak back out hoping that Lily will still be totally consumed with the paper plate of eggs. I’ve still got Bo’s leash, and, thank goodness, he’s at the top of the drive waiting for us. And he’s excited. So I tell him to sit, and he does. Such a good boy. He reeeeeeeally wants to go on the walk with us.


So they’re both walking fine. Great. Good. This is easy. Until Lucy somehow yanks the leash from me three times while we’re in protected wetlands with specific trails. Two times running over a hill where dogs are not supposed to go. But I eventually catch her every time, not without many, many thoughts of whether or not she’ll sink in the marsh and I’ll have to rescue her and then I’ll have to bathe her again (like I had to the day before).


We finally get back home. I have to hustle because I’m taking my convertible in to get smogged. I even remember to bring in the DMV paper so I’m thinking I’m really on top of things. I had even researched the cheapest place to get a smog check in my town (Smog for Less … go figure). So I’m about to get into my car and I see that there is bird crap on the seat cover of the passenger seat. For real? So I have to go get a Clorox Handy Wipe and clean that up. Okay, on my way.


I keep saying to myself, this is going to be fine, this is going to be fine, we had it worked on not long ago, I know it’s an old car, but we’ll get this taken care of and then I can send in the certificate and that’s another chore marked off of my to-do list.


Nice enough guy, left the car there, walked around town a bit, back in twenty-five minutes, he’s not quite done and then he says it: “You’re going to be seeing me again.”


Crap.


It didn’t pass. Now I have to figure this all out and take it back to the guy who did all the work for me before, which is kind of far away, but if he has history with the car maybe he will feel culpable for its failure.


I e-mail my husband. He thinks I should take it somewhere local. I beg him to call them because I’m a girl and we all know that a mechanic is not going to be as straight with me as he would be with my 6’3” husband, who you wouldn’t really want to mess with.


But I have groceries to get. All the while I’m walking around the store wondering what to do about my car. And when I check out, the girl asks for my ID and my credit card, as if I’m trying to steal $93 worth of groceries from Grocery Outlet and then she calls me “ma’am” when I leave. I so wish I was not a “ma’am.” I barely fit everything in my little trunk and I head to Trader Joe’s. I only buy a few things there including a case of wine. The guy asks to check my ID and, get this, he says with a little laugh, “You’re older than me!”


I swear, I had to hold back the tears as I rolled the cart to my car. After this delightful morning, that case of wine is looking pretty tempting. But it’s only eleven o’clock. Let’s not pretend we’re out to a nice lunch or anything.


Instead, I blast the stereo while I’m driving behind a truck that is going twenty-five miles per hour in a forty mile-per-hour zone.


When I get home, my husband calls me. He’s already spoken to the guy to whom he wanted me to take the car. Guess what. He doesn’t work on this old of a Mercedes (I’m sensing a running theme here, are you?). But the guy gave my husband some good info and a couple of other places to try.


After really, honestly, wanting to understand this whole smog situation and realizing that, in truth, I really should have run that car up and down the freeway seven-hundred times before taking it to get smogged (to clean out all the crap in the exhaust that sits there while the car sits there), I’m starting to feel like finding the cheapest smog guy, making an appointment, and even remembering my DMV statement, were actually not the smartest things I did even though I had thought that they were.


Thankfully, not every day starts out this way. But when it does, it amazes me how things seem to snowball. It’s as if I could just sit and watch and wait for the avalanche to happen. Thank goodness summer is coming and all the snow is about to melt.





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