When I stop laughing, I assure the person that they're merely witnessing a ripple in the force. Because I decidedly do NOT.
Because before we left the house that morning, it looked more like this:
My 2 year old's face is inches from mine and I wake to feel him breathing on my eyeballs. I pull back in confusion and he whispers, "No, Mama mama! Hold still. I'm a makin' dem warm!"
I then notice that he is without clothes.
I debate closing my eyes and throwing my phone in his direction, but I've seen the variety of places he can pee, especially when his business is free in the wind.
Besides, the baby wakes up and is chattering and roaring from his room.
I free Zoen from his crib while a very grumpy 3 year old stomps in and says, "I want breakfast."
Sayer pipes in, "NO! I want lunch!"
In the midst of this, Zoen has emptied the entire contents of the laundry basket of clean clothes by tossing each item into the air with glee.
They're about to escalate into full-fledged screams, Zoen's are because the basket is now empty, so I discard my idea of fun pancakes for breakfast and consider tossing them boxes of cereal and letting them go to town.
I settle for the middle ground and fix the big kids bowls of cereal with milk. Zoen gets a banana which he happily eats until the very last bite. This is the bite he chooses to use as hair gel. It's effective. He now looks quite a bit like Bozo the Clown with his side tufts.
The kids finish breakfast (LUNCH!) without further drama and I manage to drink three gulps of coffee while it's actually still hot. We have a family wrestle session which leaves all of us giggling and ends when Sayer picks a monster booger from his nose and attempts to wipe it on my forehead. Ew. "But MAMA! Dis is a BIG ONE!"
Despite being 15 minutes removed from breakfast, the kids clamor for a snack. I dole out the goldfish. Sayer insists on taking them from my hand using only his mouth.
Zoen gets his legs stuck sideways in the kids' rocking chair and I have to rescue him. He rewards me with a bite on the shoulder. Affectionately.
I wrestle Z into clothes and start to get Sayer dressed. He insists that he does NOT WANT the bad guy batman underwear. Sadly, they're the only ones clean. So I think fast and tell him that because the bad guys are on the bottom part of his underwear, he'll get to squish them every time he sits down. He's delighted and puts them on. Naked crisis averted.
The girls get themselves dressed without incident aside from Caly's propensity for really weird color and pattern combinations. So long as it's weather appropriate, she can wear what she likes. (And really, I love her free-spirit).
I grit my teeth and tell the girls it's time to brush their hair. Caly comes without a problem, gets her requested, "Just ONE pretty ponytail". Lexi looks like I've sentenced her to 100 days without food. The brush barely touches her scalp and she screams, "OWWWW!" I tell her that I'm glad to shave her head and she is quiet for a moment before saying, "Then I would look like Aunt Shell and she's beautiful! OK!" Yes, my oldest rocks.
But since I don't have a set of working clippers, I gingerly finish brushing her hair between howls.
Caly and Sayer decide to hold hands and trot around the house calling each other "Mom" and "Dad"
I put on a video for the kids and head back to my room to get ready for the morning. In the course of the 7 short minutes I'm gone, Caly and Sayer got into the markers and artistically decorated themselves. Zoen is in the midst of eating a marker and sports the purple lips to prove it. Lexi is zoned out by Electric Company and oblivious to the surrounding chaos. But then she busts out with a song describing a phonics skill so I call the video a win.
At last, I'm ready, the kids are not in the buff, and the diaper bag has at least a diaper in it. Out the door we go!
I used to say that getting kids together to do one thing is like herding cats. But then someone used the term, "herding turtles." I find this to be ever so much truer.
Our car is parked 10 yards from the front door. I think it took 92 minutes before everyone was in their seat without tears.
We arrived at the grocery store and started walking around. The two middles rode in the front of the car cart. Zoen sat in the top. Lex walked. We happened by the lady who made the comment about me having it all together while we were next to the donut case. The kids were still because they were busy salivating over the sugar high waiting to happen.
I graciously said thank you to her anyway, and she turned down the pasta aisle. I watched her go and when I turned back around, Sayer had escaped the cart and was making a beeline for the deli counter. Zoen had resumed licking the handle of the grocery cart. Lex was begging for donuts and Caly was remarkably quiet. Mostly because she spotted an old lollipop on the floor of the cart and was attempting to dislodge it with her hand, presumable to eat it.
I removed the lollipop, handed Z a cracker, herded Sayer into the cart again, and deferred Lexi's request for donuts with promise of something slightly less awful for her.
And then I started laughing again. Because I definitely don't have it all together.
But I like to think I definitely have it all.