Chaos and Quiet

I knew the next morning was going to be rough because we were getting the kids to bed so late and I was mentally exhausted. I also knew that because of the chaos of the night I would be getting a 2 am wake up call from the 5 month old puppy.  I was close the dog got up at 2:30.  Some nights I don’t have a hard time going back to sleep, other nights it’s more difficult. This was a night in the middle. I don’t remember going back to sleep, but I do remember being awake thinking about the next days schedule.  When the alarm went off I struggled to get my eyes open to push the snooze button.  Before the snooze time had run out my 7 year old, and one of our cats made it known that it was in fact time to get up.  I struggled.  I struggled to get up, I struggled to wrap my mind around getting the kids to school, I struggled to find the get up and go to get up and go.  I finally did but 10 minutes later than I “needed” to.  Thank you Curious George and PBS for keeping my early riser occupied until I got up.  As I slowly got up I started to question the dependance that I had created of my oldest three. I am the alarm, and on days that the alarm is tired it wakes them up late, it’s not a great system, especially when “the alarm” was supposed to switch someones laundry when she got up at 6:30. It was now 7:20. The newly proclaimed pescatarian was searching to find a lunch box as school lunch had suddenly become unacceptable. A small argument occurred on the order of operations and how lunch box finding was at the end of getting ready not the beginning.  Another small eruption over the lack of French toast sticks, that turned into a lack of oatmeal portion size occurred. Tears on the couch for no reasons were a backdrop to matching/appropriate school clothing conversations. Trying to silently remove my mind while keeping me psychically there I sipped hot coffee and prayed I would be able to suppress the yell in my throat.  We made it to the car, and were so close to successfully leaving when the daily disagreement about who was sitting where started up.  Still being mindful of the yell in my throat I told them I would count to 5 and then be pulling away from the curb.  They barely made it in, but they did it and we were on our way.  With the chaos of the morning I was happy to see we were on time and soon I would be home in the quiet.

Suddenly it became apparent that our normal commute was backed up and we were headed on an alternate route to school.  As gratitude for our safety overcame me, the yell in my throat dissolved while I worked on keeping us safe on the rest of the journey.  As we neared the school talked turned from the car accident, and distracted driving to police officers and their presence at the school.  We made it to the drop off spot, arrangements were made to get everyone checked into school and I headed back home. I was a little frustrated that I missed my favorite part of the morning radio show I listen to on the way home, but feeling relief at successfully dropping the kids off. I walked in the door at home and it was quiet. The silence enveloped me and I was able to finally wrap my mind around scheduling the kids bi-annual dental check-up. Feeling buoyed by that success I looked up the college counselor we needed to schedule with and reached out to her, feeling like I was on a role I switched laundry, started a new load, and ate breakfast. I sat down to map out the rest of my day, and while my brain was wildly planning all of the things I was about to do my body settled in to recoup from the chaos. I eventually succumbed to the sitting and the phone rang, a friend on the other line, as I said hello my brain reminded me of our to do list for the day. As the conversation developed my brain quieted down. She talked I listened, I talked she listened, the other line beeped; the kids school. I let it go to voicemail as the automated call was probably to remind me of up coming student led conferences or an upcoming fundraiser. Two minutes later the other line beeped again, it was one of my oldest. Was she calling to tell me that the automated call was due to a tardy or an absence?

She said “did you get the message?”

“I got the call, I haven’t listened to the message yet, what’s going on?”

“The school is on lock down, kids stole guns that go to our school and they’re out there.”

As I tried to shove the tears out of my voice I asked her again what was going on, where was she? Where were all my other kids? Is everyone safe? Is she okay? Yes everyone is safe, yes she is okay.

I quickly ended the call with my friend, trying and failing to keep the quiver out of my voice the lump out of my throat, the tears out of my eyes. The message, thank you Apple that the transcription worked. The message boiled down to “not an active situation”. Breathing, calming, news, the news must be covering this. Turn on the news, small blip in the slow crawl on the bottom of my screen. Google, google always knows. Search, story, answers, more questions. Battery dying. Find charger. Phone rings, other oldest on the phone.

“Did you get the message”

Calmer this time around, I gave and got all of the details either of us had. She was okay.

Had my 3rd child emailed me? Why do I keep her phone at home while she is at school? This isn’t supposed to happen. Check email, she’s there. Is it that boy? Yes. Are you okay? Yes.

Call husband does he know? He knows. He is the calm voice of reason. The kids are safe at school that’s where they’ll stay. Going to pick them up now will add to the chaos. I keep checking the news, are they really okay? Yes they really are okay.

Finding the quiet in the chaos. I must move my body to slow my mind. Shoes on, dog on leash. Moving, calming, moving, calming, back and forth I feel the quiet settle in. I re-enter my house and am enveloped in the same quiet that was there after school drop off. I sit in it.

The phone rings, the school again, this time I answer hoping for more answers on the end of the line. I must show ID to pick my kids up from school. Child calls;

“mom, you have to pick us up.”

Trying my best to keep it together the calm vanishes, I shove the tears aside, “yes, yes I know.”

Another child calms, I detail the plan as though I had prepared for this all day, another child calls. As I reassure her that I have a plan, I am reassuring myself I have a plan. The tears managed to stay back while I assured my kids I was there for them.

I feel it. I want my mom. I call, try to act casual, two minutes in I’m sobbing. Sobbing and asking my mom if she can go buy popsicles because after I pick my kids up from school I need to bring them to her house so they can eat popsicles. So she can hold me while I hold them and make sure they are okay. My mom, my angel, is off to get popsicles.

I arrive at the school and from a distance can see the full parking lot and feel the reverence and gravity of the situation. Bodies moving slowly. As I walked through the parking lot I had to fight the urge to hug every police officer and teacher I passed. They were calm and collected I would act the same. As I worked through the ID check out process I chuckle at how a little “red tape” can sure do a lot to remove the emotion from a situation! Children are checked out and safely in my arms. Three of my kids don’t know what’s happened, they recanted what they were told; “it was a red air day, but it wasn’t and that is why we had to stay inside.” The oldest three asked questions and answered questions I tried and failed to manage the information shared because I hadn’t been able to tell the youngest three what had gone on.

We spill out of the car at my mom’s house, her and my dad both outside, and child number 5 falls into my arms, tears streaming down her face. “Mom, I’m scared.” Through  my tears that I’d been pushing around all day I told her she was safe. I told her all the reasons she was safe, reminding myself all the reasons she is safe.

Details are shared, speculations are made, politics are put aside. Popsicles and cookies are eaten. The quiet in the chaos is found.

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