The alarm goes off. I fumble under the pillow, trying to press any button I can find. There is no way on earth it’s morning. I refuse to believe it. I try to find the button that snoozes rather than turning it off, because even though it’s clearly impossible that it’s morning, I have a sneaking suspicion that it is.
The small boy appears at my door. “Mum, I’ve broken my leg,” he says.
“OK, come on into my bed.”
“But my leg is broken?” I’ve fallen back asleep and I don’t hear him. He runs across the room and climbs in beside me. We can snooze the alarm another five or six times because He Who Is In Charge Of Getting Everyone Up In The Morning is away in London for work. This isn’t a good thing – it means I will have to get everyone up, but I’m not thinking about that yet, I’m just snoozing.
My small boy is not. He’s full of chat. “Mum, the alarm is going off – will I snooze it for you? Just give me your PIN code and I will do that for you.” Nice try little one, but you’re not getting the code. Not now, not ever.
Eventually, realisation dawns – I have only 40 minutes to get two more people out of bed and everyone ready for school. With no other grown-up to help. This feels so unbelievably hard right now, I’m finding it difficult to accept it’s true. But it’s true.
So I fall out of bed and go into the girls. Like me, they do not believe it’s morning.
“There’s no way it’s morning mum, just no way. It’s too dark. I’m going back to sleep,” says the eight-year-old.
The nine-year-old says nothing at all because she can’t hear me yet, even though I’m talking into her ear.
I stand in their room, begging them to get out of bed, because if I leave the room, nothing will happen. Meanwhile the small boy has gone downstairs to make everyone breakfast. He yells back up to ask what everyone wants. “Nothing” says one. “I’ll make my own” says the other. He is not impressed that there’s so little trust placed in his culinary skills and he cries. I go down to soothe him and convince him to come back upstairs to get dressed, then go back to begging the girls to get up. By 8 o’clock, the time they’re supposed to be getting ready to get in the car, they’re just about deciding what they want to eat.
“What do you want for breakfast?” I ask.
“What is there?” everyone answers, as though the list has changed since yesterday.
Then there’s the epic trek back up the stairs to brush teeth, and the epic search for shoes. And it’s not over when we get everyone into the car – we still have the epic walk from the parking spot to the school. The small boy falls en route and cries his heart out – a little bit because he hurt himself, a lot because he’s tired and he just wants to let it out. I feel his pain.
Three children are finally deposited in their respective spots and I race back to the car, and I can breathe at last. Except I can’t, because I have to cram as much work as I possibly can into three hours fifty minutes, then it’s time to begin it all again.
At pickup time, I park and get ready for my seven minute walk to the school, then sit in the car looking at Facebook until there are only four minutes left. Because I like living on the edge, and it’s my first bit of downtime all day.
When I pick up the small boy, we begin our epic walk back up to the car. It’s no longer seven minutes – it now takes 35. Because one of us likes to stop a lot and look at leaves and pick things up and take breaks.
At the beginning of this year, I harboured dreams of going home or to the shops during the hour wait, but now we pretty much just make it to the car by the time the girls are gathering up their books to finish school.
Then we do the Everest climb that is homework and lunches and dinner and bedtime and then we do it all again the next day. Epic. Every day. Every single day. I’m fine. No really, I’m fine. It’s epic.