Friday night, while having dinner with my wife, Yanik, I mentioned that I couldn't wait for the kids to go back to school so that we can return to normalcy. She started laughing (not exactly the words of agreement I expected)...
“What do you mean normalcy?” she asked dismissively. “What have you been doing all summer?”
What I meant is that now that the girls will be back at school, she (my wife) will start taking them every morning. Since the girls have to be at school by 7:40am, they usually leave the house by 7:30am. That gives me about twenty minutes to get ready peacefully before getting my son ready (usually in about five minutes) and rushing out in time to make it to morning Mass at 8:00am (my son starts school for the first time this year but doesn't have to be there until 8:50am). That is what I mean by normalcy!
I explain that to my wife in less descriptive terms.
“Oh, so it’s all about you?” she asked in a condescending tone.
Hell, yes! I thought… “No,” I said, but then reconsidered, “… well yes, I guess.” (If you want to look at it that way!)
During the summer, my parents took care of the kids, meaning I had to keep all three of them every morning and drive them to their house on my way to work. For me that meant picking out their clothes, waking them up, which is never easy, making sure the girls made their beds, got dressed, put on their shoes, brushed their teeth and brushed their hair. In the meantime, I made our bed, got our 3-yr-old son and myself ready. We would never leave the house before 8:30am, sometimes not until about 8:45am. Forget about morning Mass.
Now come to think of it, going back to my wife’s response during dinner, our school day mornings are anything but normal (Depending on interpretation).
On many days, our house more resembles the first week of boot camp than the orderly and well-oiled machine we aim for. In fact, my wife often turns into Louis Gosset Jr.’s character in An Officer and A Gentleman (Sgt. Foley) barking commands to get those weak cadets in line. Only the cadets act more like Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World than professional naval officer wannabes.
And believe me, my wife can be tough. When Sgt. Foley starts yelling out commands in the morning, there have been many times that I could identify with Richard Gere's Zach Mayo character when he breaks down crying, "I got nowhere else to go... I got nowhere else to go.”
It’s funny, last year at about this time, I was preparing to lead an Emmaus Retreat and had resolved to read through the New Testament, as part of my daily spiritual exercises.
Every morning, I got up at 5:45am, went to the gym and got back before 7:00am (the time my wife started waking up the girls at the beginning of last school year, before being forced to change the time to 6:30am, because of how long it took the girls to get ready).
When I got back from the gym, I would duck my head to avoid the incoming projectiles and rushed into my sanctuary, better known as the bathroom (I didn’t look back, hoping not to get noticed) to read the Bible. The bathroom is the one room in the house, I can usually get some peace and quite. Only it wasn’t that peaceful on most school day mornings.
Instead, it was chaos. My wife yelling, the girls fighting and knocking on the door of the bathroom every few minutes (I like to read in their bathroom because it has better lighting) to retrieve their toothbrushes, hairbrushes and hair bands or clips. It was a constant interruption.
I would start getting upset, thinking, “What is going on out there?” “I'm trying to read in here! Can’t they give me a little peace?” “Why is Yanik screaming so much?”
It never occurred to me until several months into this morning mayhem that I was not helping in any way. In fact, I hadn't even offered to help and it wasn’t until my wife and I attended a marriage retreat, that it dawned on me that I could ease her morning stress (not to mention bring some serenity to our household) by helping her out with girls.
Well, as it turns out, shortly after that, Sgt. Foley got a helper. I became Drill Sergeant II, The Sequel (I soon found out getting our girls ready is NOT an easy task!). Now, instead of my wife, I took over the morning screaming (Days in paradise at the Espinosa house). Our neighbors, who at one time could be heard elevating their voices with their daughters (who are now grown up), must be reminiscing the times past.
Therefore, now, as I consider the end of my summer routine, which often times got ugly since I was alone and Wayne and Garth (aka my daughters) use every means in their power to procrastinate, I can rest assured that when the first bell rings Monday morning, Sgt. Foley and helper will be ready for combat. It may take several weeks but WE WILL break them down.
Lord, give us patience! .... And, let this be a healthy and safe school year for all...