Most days, like many Moms, I barely keep this ship afloat. If often starts early while I am getting dressed or drying my hair. "Don't make me yell, please, let's not start the day like this." Closely followed by, "if you touch him/her again, you are going to your rooms to get dressed and you will not see the end of this Arthur which you have already seen 17 times." We all stumble out the garage with frantic "your backpack!" "Connor, you need to wear a coat, buddy!" and what must be the neighbors' favorite, the shrill "look both ways!!" as the two of them race down the hilly part of the driveway to the street in the epic no one wins game of "I'm the line leader."

Once everyone gets where they need to go, I spend about 20 minutes or more, emailing, organizing my day, determining desired caffeination level appropriateness to tackle the plans just confirmed, and set my GPS to take me past the neighboring town's horse farms if possible or a dunkin donuts if not. I listen to bad music, squawk back at Dr. Laura, laugh at Howard Stern, see patients, call families, chat up colleagues via cell and email, search for lunch, debate whether or not lunch is rlly necessary, scare neighbors in quiet neighborhoods I park in to document, before racing to pick the kids up for the finish line that is home.

I get approximately five words from each kid if I ask them what they did that day. Instead they get this standard set and I get the standard answers.

Who was your best friend today? (Lila or Nate 99.99% of the time)
What was the best thing you did today (played outside)
What was the hardest thing (con says missing mommy, Caroline inevitably now shares that in fact something did happen at school and I get to hear about the latest mean girl drama and oh my lord, they are too young for this BS!!!)

If it is M, W, or F (which never happens because we always are out and about that night, but makes her feel better because it is three days) they get to watch a show. If not, they each select something creative to do or play in their own rooms. I scramble to empty and refill lunch boxes and pull some sort of healthy meal together during this time. There are often, "stop guys!" "That's two" and sometimes one of them ends up screaming in their room pounding on the door or stripping their bed in frustration. Yes, stripping their bed.

The other night after dinner, I had an off day for my 10K training and Steve wanted to get insanity done with downstairs which required the use of the playroom. I kept the kids upstairs and with nothing to distract me from their ooey gooey goodness having completed all required tasks of evening prep, we played an epic game of pirate ship on Connor's bed. The kids loved the suggestion and instead of letting them take the lead, I suggested we hop in quickly and set sail because the seas were getting rough and that brought out the sharks. I had them at sharks. We hid under blankets during big waves, I shook the bed when we hit a big rock, we took on water and needed to bail it ourselves with just the invisible buckets in our hands. The kids screeched joyful terrified screams each time they came up with a new creature of the deep to come on board and nip at their toes. Their favorite was the jellyfish with its long reaching stinging tentacles. We snuggled together, laughed from our bellies, and Steve came upstairs after his cool down wondering aloud if we were alright with all the noise.

Take a break from the usual. Hop on a boat and let their imaginations take you all away. That short half hour I spent with them aboard our blanket pirate ship will be something I will always remember when I look back on these days with them. It was simple, but special. It was outside of their norm, away from the comforts of their play space, and the way they looked to me to guide this new game was powerful. It was a reminder that even when they don't necessarily need me and can play quite independently now, I shouldn't assume that just because they are playing and happy they wouldn't benefit from me taking the helm and leading them on a crazy adventure.


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