Qualifying for the Mother of the Year Award

Are We There Yet?

Lori Clinch

It hit me just last week that I may never qualify for the Mother of the Year Award. I’m also out of the running for Cook of the Century and A Wife to Die For. Since those nice folks at “Desperate Housewives” haven’t called and requested my presence for an audition, I can only assume that it’s yet another call that may never come.

But with Mother of the Year, I really thought I had a chance. I’m great at making bologna sandwiches, possess volumes of knowledge about car-pooling and I’m all over sibling rivalry. Still, it would seem that the competition is steep for Mother of the Year, and one has to get up pretty early in the morning if they’re going to compete against organized mamas.

And I’m simply not a “get up pretty early” kind of gal.

I like to lie in bed for the better part of the morning and enjoy a good slumber. I like the darkness, I like my jammies, and gosh darn it, I like smacking the alarm clock every 10 minutes or so in order to get another good 20 winks.

That brings me to my revelation. On a dull and overcast morning just last week, I was due to arise at 7:03 a.m. Naturally, about 7:01 a.m., the lump in my pillow disappeared. The blankets I’d been struggling with suddenly cascaded over me, and never before had a mattress felt more comfortable.

I did what I had to do. I knocked the alarm clock on the head for one final dose of a snooze and settled in for a nine-minute nap.

Never underestimate the power of the snooze alarm.

At 7:38, I awoke to the sound of a disc jockey debating mutual funds with a caller from Wisconsin. A cute little voice inside my head told me to ignore the energy that the early risers put out there and simply stay in bed. Why, I could close my eyes and pretend it didn’t matter and return to the white sale that I’d been dreaming about.

But that’s no way to start a school day. I threw back the covers and scrambled down the hallway in a panic.

“What kind of mother does this?” I asked myself as I stumbled to the children’s rooms. “What maternal being worth her salt forces tardiness upon her children, leading them to a life of late appointments, missed trains, and overdue library books.”

I ran from room to room opening doors. “Kids, get up! Get out of bed.”

I told myself that these things never happen to morning people. Never to the organized, devoted mothers that surround me at school functions. Not to a real contender for Mother of the Year. Then I lectured myself that I should strive to be an organized mother. I should be a systematic person. I should create a list of steps to self-improvement and make that a goal for the day.

It’s what a real Mother of the Year would do.

The children did not readily stir. And why should they? They were still living in a land where a mother arrives at a dutiful hour to awake them.

“We’re late,” I shouted out. “Don’t you understand? Your teacher is waiting, the principal is checking his watch and all of your schoolmates who are lucky enough to be born into a normal family are already at the school.”

A couple of the kids threw back the covers and began to scurry about. One precious child, the one they call Sticky, simply opened one eye to look at me.

“Wake up!” I said as I shook him. “We’ve no time for hesitation. We have three minutes to get out the door.”

Then I grabbed him by the ankles in an all-out attempt to pull him from his bed as the other children ran frantic.

“Where’s my backpack?”

“Where’s my lunch ticket?”

“I can’t find any pants! Does no one do laundry anymore?”

“Mom, have you seen my football uniform?”

“Mom, I don’t have any clean socks and I think the dog ate my shoes!”

Suddenly, the guilt left me and I began to shout. I turned into a drill sergeant with a voice that would rival a blow horn. I shouted at one kid, yelled at another and in order to get the one they call Sticky to take an actual step toward the door, I moved in behind him and gave him a loving push.

With a spit bath or two and a quick combing of the hair, I rushed them to the car. Blew a general kiss their way, tossed in a box of cold Pop Tarts and closed the door.

Oh yeah, those Mother of the Year people should be calling any moment.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” Her e-mail address is clinch@atcjet.net.