What’s your morning routine?

“But it’s not FAIR!” Will says as he throws around his school pants.  “I don’t WANT TO TAKE OFF MY SHOES!!”

He’s gotten dressed in green corduroys instead of his blue school pants, again.  I’m not concerned that he has a turtleneck under his school shirt on a day that will reach the low-70s, but I do need him to wear his navy school pants.  I’m cool on bending the rules (e.g.: the royal blue pants with baggy pockets from yesterday) but responsibility holds me from breaking them completely.  Hence the angry outburst from my child.  “Good morning, son!” I think to myself, “like most mornings, today I’m greeting you with demands that make you miserable!”

Kate, on the other hand, is pleasant as can be, setting up intricate bedding for assorted dolls and stuffed things.  Large items have bedding made up from blankets she’s unpacked from Will’s room, which makes me sigh as I consider having to fold and put back each one.  Then I notice that the small items have bedding made up of Kleenex.  Suddenly re-folding blankets seems like a joyous task.  Fifteen minutes of badgering, directing, undressing, re-dressing, cajoling, and general focused power are what it takes to get the child into actual clothing.  It’s a delicate balance between listening, encouraging, directing, offering choices, and provoking total meltdown.  At least this child still needs enough help in the morning that I can play to that balancing-act.  The boy is pretty much in misery full-time.

I figure that morning chaos isn’t unique (right?)  But here is where my morning both brightens and narrows into envy:

While I’m wetting my son’s hair and trying to comb it while he eats breakfast (by the way, water is akin to hot oil — the child is screaming under the sizzle of the luke-warm water on the brush), while Kate is being asked for the 18th time to PLEASE put on her shoes, and while I watch as the cat jumps up on the table to lick out of a cereal bowl that wasn’t put in the sink…. Paul waltzes in the door.

Yes. Waltz.

He glides in, shiny and perfect, all rested and perky, having enjoyed 2 blissful hours of work in the coffee shop.  He’s had plenty of perfectly prepared caffeine and gotten through enough work to feel a bit accomplished before the rest of our time zone has put on pants.  And now he’s home to kiss his darling family and send them off to school.

Is it okay that I both love him and …. hate him for this?  Damn perky perfect husband, forcing himself out of bed extra early to put in hours to spend more time with us and help me more in the afternoon!!

And just like that, my warm underbelly is exposed and all my weaknesses laid out for display: I suck at morning routine.

I’m looking for the reality check here.

SHOULD I be just as perfect and have the kids ready and waiting for his return?  Or is this just too Stepford?

Is it more reasonable that my husband come home to the gum-in-my-hair wife wielding two screaming, half-dressed children and a kitchen full of dirty dishes?

Could my morning madness just be karmic balance?  Or am I not fulfilling what should be a sort of equally-impressive display of responsibility to my mate?

Help me out, folks.  How do you do it?