The seasons are changing. I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer, but I can’t help but enjoy the fall feel of the mornings. I step out outside, taken by the sharp, crisp cool air of fall rolling in. I take a deep breath. The new air smells just as crisp. Clean.
Then I step back inside. My nose automatically takes the defensive again. A position that it has taken and become quite accustomed to since I first brought Riley home. Before then, it was relaxed. Laid back. Quick to point out an offensive smell but reassured that it was a quick fix. There are no quick fixes anymore.
The addition of my first baby made four total beings I was caring for. My trusted rottweiler, Savannah, and my two individualistic cats, Douglas and Zebulon, had ruled the house long before. They were not without their smells. Goodness no. They came with a complete set of those, but my bandwidth to counteract those was far greater before the baby. With the addition of Madison and the total sitting firmly at five waste-producing creatures, my reach is spotty at best. These days if I ask my nose to stop and smell the roses it will quickly retort, “Why? What’s hidden in there?”
My days are filled with a strategic planning to avoid smells. On a good day, I’ve dropped the baby off just in time to avoid her morning movement, Riley had bathed the night before and is wearing fresh undies, the dog has done her duty outside and retreats quietly to the basement for the day, and the cats go outside, leaving their baking-soda-filled liter boxes undisturbed. The bad days? I fear those are a too graphic and I too modest to share their shameful details here. Sometimes I wish I could live in such ignorant bliss as well.
On these mornings (of which I had only one this last week!), I think of a statement that was once shared with me. The statement, “I cannot imagine someone so lazy that they can’t eat their breakfast at home.” On the bad mornings, breakfast in hand, I imagine what my co-workers had done this morning and wonder what they would think if I honestly answered their simple question, “How are you today?”
“Well, this morning I woke up at 5:30. I carefully moved two sleeping children one soft movement at a time so that I could remove the sheets from my bed. Riley had an accident. Why do they even make waterproof covers for mattresses? They don’t work anyway. Seems like a scam. Anyway, after some futile scrubbing and several different types of cleaners later I got the big guns out and hoisted the carpet cleaner on the bed. That woke the girls up much too early. But it worked! I was pretty proud but it was a tired kid scream-fest all the way to daycare. All and all, I’d say a successful morning!“
“I had a really great morning until I swung my feet out of bed and they landed directly in cat vomit. Evolution really should have fixed cats’ digestive issues by now. Luckily, I take a shower first thing. Usually it is all good when I get out of the shower, but this morning my dog discovered a skunk outside. I’ll probably spend the day pursuing Pinterest for a fix between meetings. And, I’ll probably spend those meetings thinking about how I’m going to execute that fix with two kids in tow. Did I mention we lost Riley’s right shoe this morning? Can you believe we found it in the pantry? Those girls are pretty good at finding things. We had a rousing game of ‘what’s rotting in here?’ in the car on the way to school. Kids.”
“I’m late. Poop. Don’t ask.”
Yes, a mother’s morning experiences are best left unshared. Unfortunately, my nose does not get to opt out. It too has come up with it’s own coping mechanism. No longer able to muster the full alert and sense of urgancy it used to feel when encountering these smells, it now hardly acknowledges the odor. It tells my brain, apathetically, “that’s a bad smell” and retreats again. For me, I’ve learned to embrace the saying “Life is like a box of chocolates.” When you wake in the morning, you never know what you’re going to get.
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