Raising Elle
by Martinique Davis
Aug 06, 2009 | 1330 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The lunchbox was packed and not forgotten in the refrigerator. Raincoat, sweatshirt, sunscreen, sunhat – the Elle Going to Daycare checklist was complete.

The Mom Being Productive checklist was also complete. The cell phone was in an easily accessible pocket, giving me a fighting chance at answering it in time. Computer, bills to mail (stamped even), notepad and wallet all packed and hanging from my shoulder in one of those massive, utilitarian canvas bags so popular among multitasking Telluride mothers. Coffee, still hot, in hand.

It was Monday at 8:30 a.m. and Elle and I were, miraculously, ready to begin a productive week. I should say, I was ready to begin a productive week. My mental appointment book boasted meetings every odd hour starting at 9 a.m., leaving just enough time in the afternoon to take the dog for a run before picking Elle up from daycare.

Lunchbox carried by Elle. Two canvas bags (one mine, one hers) slung over my arm. Coffee carried to the car without spilling.

Oh, it feels so good to feel so together.

Coffee in the cupholder, bags on the seat, better put this sweatshirt on Elle…

Alas, how fast the pieces of a well-prepared morning can crumble apart.

Elle, splayed on the driveway screeching. Eddy the dog, standing uncomfortably nearby, thinking, “I thought we were going for a walk…”

Our carefully stitched Productive Day program didn’t leave any space for the dog to accidentally knock the kid over in the driveway. It also didn’t leave leeway for the just-landed-on-her-belly Baby Elle to puke her waffles and milk all over the two of us.

It wasn’t anything special, I know, but I had been pretty happy with the ensemble I had pulled together for my Productive Day. The ensemble that now smelled of sour milk. We undressed in the entryway, then sat in our socks on the couch until Elle’s sniffles had subsided and I had assured myself, a few times over, that no permanent damage had been done.

Back downstairs to find new clothes for us both. Elle’s new outfit is perfect, pink and polka-dotted and ready for a fun day at school. Mine, of course, isn’t; I even debate hustling the vomit-speckled old outfit into the laundry. The fact that I am considering taking the time to do this stands as an initiating example of my downward spiral, from being productive to being, well, ridiculous.

The 9 a.m. appointment has come and gone, and by the time I manage to find some level of satisfaction with my substandard wardrobe, and get Elle and I back to where we started getting into the car to go to daycare, I realize it will take an effort that I seem to no longer be able to summon to make it to my next appointment on time. I call, thankful I can make my lame excuses and apologies on voicemail instead of in person.

The dog and the crying and the vomit and the imperfect ensemble have erased two of my appointment books’ three appointments for the day, yet I am back on track. I am in the car, taking Elle to daycare, drinking coffee that went cold an hour ago. But I don’t feel on track. I worry about Elle (did she barf because she landed on her belly, full of breakfast? Or is she really hurt?) I feel bad that I kicked the dog (not hard, but the jab to his butt came with enough drama to send him under the table and he hasn’t yet emerged.) And why do I still smell barf?

I feel the urge to turn around, drive home and put my pajamas back on and cuddle on the couch all day with Elle. While I hate to admit it, sometimes a hurt baby and a barf-covered shirt are too much to deal with – too much, at least, for a Productive Day. A Productive Day with a bad outfit that still seems to smell like regurgitated baby breakfast.

I leave Elle at school, because she is happy to be there and her teachers promise to call if she starts acting funny. I drive back home. Reschedule my last appointment. Change clothes. Coax the dog out from under the table and take him for a run. Pick lettuce from my garden and have two friends over for lunch.

My Productive Day-Turned-Funky Day has turned into something of value again; perhaps only on the personal (as opposed to professional) level, but valuable all the same. I run. Apologize to the dog. Feel comfortable in my clothes. Talk to girlfriends. And at the end of the day, I’m ready to continue my Productive Week by planning another Productive Day… tomorrow.

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