An Hour of Prayer

School mornings are a challenge here as one of my many titles is Chief Transportation Officer.

While Pinky and Tater are both eligible for the school bus despite attending our parish school, I drive them to and fro each day. Our local school district, while excellent, is under budget strains this year and the Catholic school kids often have a one hour bus ride home in the afternoon.

Since we live only four miles from school and since I am an up-and-at-'em kind of girl {especially when properly caffeinated}, I usually don't mind getting them off to school each day. They both have their routine down pat and they both wake up on time and with good humor.

That cannot always be said about their youngest sibling.

Screamsy, as his name implies, has a big mouth and an astounding vocabulary. Since he takes after his mama, the mornings are often challenging.

And, as every mom of more than one child knows, when one sibling is infected with mischief, lollygagging, or the tantrum virus, it won't be long before someone else comes down with one or all of those dreaded afflictions.

What starts as a small bit of defiance at 7:35 (NO! I don't wanna wear THAT shirt! It has a TAG!) often grows into a full-blown storm at the breakfast table (JUICE! NOT milk! JUICE!).

I usually weather these little moments of toddlerhood pretty well; most tantrums can be detoured by an odd question from me (Is that your right foot or your wrong foot?) or by an old-fashioned armpit tickle.

Most of them - but not all.

There are some mornings when the little man (and yes, I know he is still little and it is his birthright as a member of the Mouthy Irish Clan to these years of spitfire behavior) throws all his cards on the table.

He kicks. (Me.)

He screams. (His favorite? "OWWW!" He sure loves the looks he gets when he hollers that one in public; thanks dude.)

He refuses to put on his coat.

And the way he wiggles and squirms while I try to buckle him into his carseat makes roping a calf look more enticing.

As I try to wrangle him, I hear the tiny clock in my head reminding me that I have only five minutes left in the Gray Zone before entering the dreaded Red-Almost-Tardy-Zone.

Five minutes in which I must:

*Remind Tater to go to the bathroom, please.

*And brush his teeth.

*And remember to put your coat on the with the hood side up, not down, please.

*Tell Pinky that yes, I did pack her snack, and no, I didn't forget her milk money.

*And ask her to pick pony or headband.

*And remind her of the bathroom, teeth, coat routine.

All this, while letting the old dog out by himself to go to the bathroom.

*And shoving the new dog away from the door so he doesn't rush out to play rough with the old dog.

*Then scrubbing old dog's paws {I RUE the mud. RUE!} while the new dog scampers about the yard.

*Then trying to convince the new dog to stop barking at my neighbor's cat and go pee already, PLEASE.

*Then scrubbing four more paws and settling new dog into his kennel with a treat {so he won't eat the sectional while I'm gone - needy, needy breed}.

All of this, and the tiny toddler tyrant, too.

One morning earlier this week, I raced over to help Pinky double-knot her shoelaces. On the floor behind me, Screamsy flopped down with a thump, saying, "I DON'T WANT TO!"

Fumbling with her shoelaces, I whispered, "Give me what I need to get me through the next five minutes, PLEASE!"

And He did.

He always does.

I may not ask Him very nicely; I am, after all, quite good at those loud, you-gotta-be-kidding-me moments of prayer, my hands thrown up to the sky and my composure totally shot.

But I do ask from a place of honesty.

And He listens.

And somehow, we beat the clock every day and make it out the door to school.

It's not the easier choice, driving the kiddos in every morning, but I'm aware that I do at least have the choice.

I'm glad I get to spend a few more minutes with them each morning, all of us jamming down the road in trusty Claudine, waking up with Bon Jovi or Daughtry or Sarah Bareilles.

And I'm glad that He sees all my faults and moments of impatience and short-tempered ire and sends me a bit Grace anyways.

Thanks, God.

Thanks for all of it --the quiet and the crazy.

They're well worth it.