In the interests of having a sociological record, I thought I would chronicle a day in the life of one typically busy middle-class working mother, circa these days and located in a major metro area.
6:00 am - Slide out of bed. Only the thought of how quickly I'll be getting a Coffee People Jet Fuel K-Cup propels me.
6:15 am - After rejuvenating few sips, swing into action. Feed cats, who are deviously trying to trip me until I do. Furiously assemble lunch boxes (cheese sticks, water bottles, sliced ham, some crappy crunchy item, don't remember which). Wipe down counters, still filthy after last night's cooking. Lay out raincoats; check backpacks to make sure all items secure and ready for takeoff.
6:45 am - No time to shower. Dampen hair and blow dry for three minutes in attempt to get that "finished look." Results are limp and unconvincing.
7:00 am - Dab on some drugstore makeup. (No time or money to shop for the good stuff.) At least it's supposed to be organic. Throw on uniform: Black pants, sweater and loafers.
7:05 am -- Wake up kids. Kiss, kiss. Brush hair, distribute granola bars, soothe the clingy one, shout last-minute instructions to The Dude (check and sign Reading Log. Look for big trash bags at grocery story, as entire must now enclose their coats and backpacks -- the lice are back. Again.) Write out checks for school lunch tickets; tomorrow's Pizza Day. Lay out money and textbooks for Chinese class later in case I"m not back from the city in time.
7:17 am - Bolt for train to city. Make it.
8:20 am - Squish into standing-room only second train to get to city in time to buy tea before meeting. Somebody has bad breath. At least I didn't waste a hair wash.
8:55 am - Take my place at big conference room table. Check to make sure all buttons are buttoned and that I have appropriate paperwork. I do! Crumpled and stained by morning breakfast yogurt, but I do.
9:15 am - Please, please don't make me present our project list. Oh, I'm not ready for this. I don't even remember what's on it. How unqualified am I?? I simply can't. I won't. I want to sit here, quietly, and take notes, and nod. Oh, please. Oh...whew. Oh, thank you. What a splendid boss you are.
10:00 am - Ready to catch train home to continue the day's work from lovely basement office...but wait! Emergency item needs editing pronto. In the office. But first, another impromptu meeting. To go over that Project List.
11:00 am - Bolt for train home. Make it!
12:45 pm - Home. First, send out flurry of e-mails resulting from morning meeting. Shove down lunch salad. Solid couple of editing hours ensue. Clean stinky litter box somewhere in there.
3:00 pm - Kids return, graciously chauffeured today by The Dude. Riffle through backpacks. Sort school paperwork piles: To Pay, To Do, Ignore, and WTF. Hand out sliced apples and oversee homework, using whiteboard to illustrate intricacies of writing six-digit numbers.
3:30 pm - Cajole kids to sit down finish homework, already.
4:00 pm - Head out with kids to local store to purchase several birthday party gifts. Buy a Perfect Petzzz for some kid,whereby my own kid practically collapses in a fit of longing for one of the damned things.
You have a real pet, I point out. This thing just lays there and pretends to breathe, probably going through a couple batteries a day to go it. No matter; said child will raid her bank account for the animal. What can I say? It's her money. I give up. We buy it. I suck at teaching them about delayed gratification and money management, I really do. I'll worry about that another day.
5:00 pm - Dish out chicken nuggets for dinner. I don't have any veggies left in the fridge. I feel guilty, incredibly guilty, but at least they're the whole-wheat breaded, baked kind. Feed cats. Clean litter box.
5:30 pm - Prepare for magazine launch party, held locally, thank buddha. Bathe, and try to push ragged cuticles back using sharp implements. Planned manicure did not transpire. Luckily, I did find a half-hour yesterday to visit SuperCuts (damp hair trim, no wash, 10 minutes, $14).
In preparation, have purchased dress on e-Bay in an ambitious size (J.Crew silk, black, NWT, $85). Once pried out of its manila envelope and its resulting accordion wrinkles ironed to the best of my ability, dress is incredibly tight and pushes up my bosom practically to my ears. It will have to do. Feel like Scarlett O'Hara as The Dude zips and hooks me in, me gasping for breath. I sure won't be able to eat at the event. Fiddle dee dee!
6:00 pm -- Design business cards, which The Dude helpfully prints using our handy-dandy Home Business Card Printing System. So they're one color and have five words...I'm a minimalist.
6:30 pm - Reapply drugstore makeup, this time with a little five-year-old expensive eyeshadow thrown in.
6:45 pm - Issue last-minute instructions for The Dude: quiz spelling words, ensure kids do enforced daily reading. By the way -- isn't he a great guy? He is.
Another aside: Why do schools force kids to log or otherwise report on their reading? Every day? I can think of no better way to kill a love for reading than to make it homework. Anybody with me here?
6:50 pm - Console clingy child, who is crying because I won't be home to tuck her in. Her hair, wet from the bath, leaves a damp stain on the silk dress. Allow her to apply last-minute face powder (to me). Put lipstick on myself and her, which thrills her no end.
7:00 pm - Pop in car to go to magazine event. Car still stinks of sweat from Dude using it a half-hour ago to return from the gym. Luckily I used my little perfume trick - just a dab in the general vicinity of the upper thigh area. This ensures others will not choke on your perfume, but that you will release a nice smell when your plump thighs rub together under your dress.
7:15 pm - Have panic attack. Dress bodice is way too tight. Barely able to breathe.
7:30 pm - Grab glass of wine like a shipwrecked sailor going for the lifeboat.
7:45 pm - Talky, talky. Dispense homemade business cards. Editors and publisher are all younger than I. I'll be depressed about this later.
8:00 pm -- Wait -- is that one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey over there? By jove, it is! Wow, her lips are really, really plump. It is collagen? Silicone? And what the hell am I doing in the same room as one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey?
8:15 pm - See a woman I know; a former fellow preschool mom (of two) who is also a network news anchor. She looks flawless and calm. I do know, however, that she doesn't have to train it to work. They send a limo for her.
8:30 pm - Finally allow myself to eat an hors d'oeuvres. It tastes like cardboard; salmon salad runs down my chin, and a few bits of flaky pastry fall into my cleavage. It is such a bad idea to eat at these things.
8:45 pm - Bend over in the ladies' to clean out my cleavage, and my jugs pop almost all the way out. Shove them back in frantically. I simply cannot fathom why women would want to buy and surgically implant fake ones. Strap a half-bag of flour to your chest for a day instead, and see how it feels. Still want 'em?
9:00 pm - Time to leave!
9:45 pm -- Safely at home. Ravenously devour big bowl of soup, which watching, glassy-eyed, The Girls Next Door.
10:30 pm - At long last, sleep.