Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Semper Paratus!

That’s “always prepared” in Latin. It’s my motto. When you’re anal retentive OCD particular like I am it’s in everyone’s best interest to always be prepared. I’m thinking about this today because I woke up this morning utterly unprepared for the day. Normally, before I go to bed at night everyone’s lunches for the next day are made, dishes are washed, my uniform is ironed, and dinner for the next night is planned. This is not because I am some psychotic Martha Stewart wannabe. It simply limits the amount of chaos we have—chaos ensues anyway. But it’s chaos of the controlled variety.
This morning I was making lunches for the boys while trying to keep them on track to get ready for school, while getting myself ready for work. As a result I forgot to eat breakfast (and things get ugly when my blood sugar gets low) or pack my own lunch. So it meant going through the BK drive thru after the bus stop and eating lunch from the staff café at work. One of these days I’ll write a post about the staff café. Today’s special—steak and cheese subs with onion rings and bacon on the side (there is bacon on the side every day no matter what the meal). You also get a choice of two soups—both cream soups. For dessert? Angioplasti! 
            It is particularly important for me to be prepared for Wednesdays. Wednesdays my husband has rehearsal and the boys and I have Cub Scouts. I need to be prepared to keep 8 or 10 second graders engaged in the early evening at a time I would much prefer to be settling down to a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Fortunately things have eased up a bit now that soccer season is over. This is what the typical Wednesday looked like for me in September and October:

            2:30 Punch out of work and head for home.
            3:00 Arrive home, change clothes, check e-mail, and organize my stuff for Scouts
            3:35 Pick up boys at the bus stop, go to Little Caesar’s, and buy cheap pizza.
            4:00 Arrive home, scarf down cheap pizza, and make boys scarf down pizza, while doing homework.
            4:20 Supervise an eight-year-old getting into Cub Scout uniform and a six-year-old into cleats and shin guards.
            4:28 Pick up Aunt from chemotherapy appointment and drop off across town.
            4:50 Drive from Aunt’s house to soccer practice (if there is time, grab coffee—please Lord let there be time to get coffee!).
            5:00 James’ soccer practice begins and Owen finishes homework at soccer field while I make final preparation for Cub Scout meeting (this invariably involves cutting out little bits of paper on a windy day). 
            6:00 I’m staring at the clock on my phone wondering why practice isn’t over.
            6:05 The coach asks if anyone knows what time it is.
            6:07 The boys load into the van. James strips off sweaty cleats and shin guards while we drive across town.
            6:28 We pull into the church parking lot where the Scouts meet. James finishes changing into his uniform—I swear scouts wear more accessories than RuPaul!
            6:30 Scouts. I can’t remember exactly what happens there—I’m usually too dazed by then.
            7:30 The meeting is over. I usually have stuff I need to talk about with the Cub Master and Assistant Cub Master while the boys reenact The Lord of the Flies.
            7:45 We head for home. They are ordered into the house to brush their teeth, wash up and get ready for bed while I get remove all stray sporting equipment and other detritus from the minivan.
            8:00 The boys are in bed. I read a story and issue dire warnings about getting out of bed for any reason other than using the bathroom.
            8:10 I make the next days lunches and throw away pizza boxes and otherwise prepare for the next day.
            8:30 Relax with a shot of Jim Beam Black and watch old episodes of Glee cup of Tension Tamer Tea and catch up on my reading.

            Fortunately soccer and my aunt’s chemo are no longer a part of my Wednesday routine. So things have eased up significantly. But I still need to have all my ducks in a row when I wake up in the mornings. Otherwise I’ll have to make PB&Js while I ought to be writing in my journal and sowing the seeds that grow into blog posts.
            But this isn’t supposed to be a post about my wacky Wednesdays. It’s a post about being prepared. I was talking to one of the moms that I run into at various activities one day and she expressed surprise at my finding this Den Mother gig challenging. I explained that it wasn’t the Scouts—they’re a good bunch of kids. I was having difficulty finding the time to prepare for meetings. She laughed and said something like, “After doing Girl Scouts for so many years I just wing it and kind of fly by the seat of my pants.” Okey dokey, whatever works for you Honey. I want a plan. And a back up plan. That’s how I roll.
            I have two handbags (that’s a lie—I have a zillion—but I have two that get regular use). One is for days when I’m not with my kids. It has my wallet, cell phone, a couple of pens and my work ID. I keep my keys (of course I have a Swiss Army knife on the key chain) in my pocket so if my purse gets snatched the keys aren’t conveniently located near my address. Then there is the bag I carry when I have the kids with me—it’s a lot bigger. In addition to the above, I also have a small first aid kit, wet wipes, fruit snacks, a couple of small notebooks or coloring books, and a water bottle or two. Yes, sometimes it bothers my shoulder. But I’ve never said, “Geez, I really wish I didn’t bring along something to bribe distract the kids with. They really seem content to wait 40 minutes in the pediatricians office with nothing to do.”
            I only have two kids, so I really could get along without a minivan. But having a minivan means I can really be prepared. In any season you’ll find a gallon of water, a snow brush, a blanket, cat litter, plastic bags, snacks, tissues, wet wipes, a road atlas (hoping to upgrade to a GPS for Christmas—you reading this Sweetie?) and jumper cables in the back of my van. It’s entirely possible that I’m a little obsessive about having everything I need. But the nice thing is, I’m always willing to share with folks that aren’t quite so obsessed prepared.