Getting Out the Door

A hot September morning, 2016: I can get a toddler ready for daycare. I can get a baby ready for daycare. And I can get myself ready for work. But I can not do all three of these things at the same time.

With 10 minutes until I have to leave, I change the toddler’s diaper. I get the daycare bag ready; gather diapers, wipes, bottles and put them into the bag. I help the toddler put his sippy cup into the bag, even though it won’t go to daycare and never goes to daycare. I try to wrestle shoes and socks onto the toddler. I notice that the shoes have sand in them from the previous day’s play in the daycare sandbox. As sand gets all over the couch, I take the shoes to the front porch and smack the sand out of them. I return to resume wrestling shoes onto the wiggling toddler.

I notice the baby has a poopy diaper and change it. Afterward I see that the toddler has removed his shoes and one sock, and yells for me to “help” remove the last sock. I notice the baby has snot coming out of her nose. I find a tissue and remove the snot, then try the snot bulb to see if there’s more there. There isn’t, but now I’m no closer to leaving the house than I was 10 minutes ago. I put the baby in the a chair in the kitchen so I can wash my hands.

Now Toddler has snot on his face, so I find a tissue and wipe it off. I lock the toddler in his room, and tend to baby who is crying. I give her her paci.

I change into my work clothes. Gather my work bag. Now toddler is screaming from his room, but it turns out he’s just happily wrestling with his baby doll and stuffed cow on his bed. The baby is crying again, so I put the paci back in her mouth.

I put on the toddler’s socks and shoes for a second time. I take him out to the car. I let him carry the cooler full of baby bottles as he glacially walks down the porch steps. I put him in the car, strap him into his car seat, and turn on the car with the air conditioning and open all the windows to let the trapped heat escape. I put the daycare bag and bottle cooler in the car. I go back into the house and get the baby, who has since fallen asleep in the kitchen. I transfer the sleeping baby to her car seat. I carry my work bag out to the car.

I leave 25 minutes late. 

******

Three months later, December 2016, is the coldest day of the year, with a high of 9 degrees Fahrenheit. I have to get both children to daycare and myself to work. Determined to be on time today, I plan ahead. Half an hour before we have to leave I go out to warm up the car. I gather up the daycare bag. I change the baby’s diaper. I put the baby in the portable car seat. I ask the toddler to find his shoes, hat, mittens, coat. 

Miraculously, he not only gathers these things, but puts the mittens on himself.  (How did he do that?) I take four bags of daycare and work stuff out to the car.  I come back inside to find the toddler swinging my tennis racket around while wearing his mittens. After he takes an interminable amount of time to select the one toy he’s allowed to take with him in the car, I get him into his coat and hat without a struggle. Yay!  I take him out to the car and put him in his car seat. I make sure he is warm and happy with his mittens, coat, hat, and toy. I go back inside and get the baby. Wow—everything is going great!

When I go back to the car with the baby, the toddler is standing up in his seat, facing the wrong way. I forgot to strap him in. Not only that, but he has discovered the window button and has opened his window, letting all the bitter cold into the car.

Just when you think things are under control, they are not.

***

Since I could not get rid of the baby or the toddler (nor did I want to), I quit my job instead. A month later I started my first day as a full-time stay-at-home dad. 

It’s been two years, and now my kids are 4 and 2. My current job is a kidherd, corralling them through parking lots, stores, libraries, and parks. Although it is marginally less hectic now, getting them out the door is still the most stressful part of any day.  

But at least I’m never late for work.

Written by Tim Schreiber