I have never heard of anyone who hasn't had a nightmare like this: you need to get somewhere and are trying to get ready, but things keep happening. Your clothes won't stay on, your friend keeps stopping to talk to people, and you drop, or lose your car keys. And that's only the beginning. You wake up sweating, with your bedclothes wrapped around your legs, breathing a sigh of relief that it was just a dream
However, sadly, for a certain demographic, this frustrating scenario is a sobering reality.
I have never seen the list of rules that dictates what preparation for a young family outing looks like, but I have noticed such little variance between households, that there must be some secret book of directions that harried parents and nonchalant children are forced to follow. Or perhaps it's just human nature.
1. Naivete. "There's plenty of time." Mom leans back and sips her coffee. Dad takes another cookie and bites into it leisurely, seeming to have wiped last week's mad rush entirely from his mind. Ten minutes later the tune has changed. Mom's voice is less sweet and Dad's honking the horn from the driveway.
2. Missing shoes. It's scientific fact: children's pairs of shoes are polar opposites. The right shoe is magnetically driven away from the left and finds solace under the livingroom couch. Children's shoes never sit demurely together, laces un-knotted. Unless, of course, they're the ones you don't want.
3. Dirty clothes. In her head, Mom has her outfit all planned. As she's shoving applesauce in the mouth of the six-month-old and buttoning up five-year-old's shirt, she runs throught the oh-so-chic list. "I'll wear my white linen skirt and my blue blouse. Then, I'll accessorize with the silk scarf that my sister gave me. I'll just get dressed last minute to prevent mishaps." What she doesn't remember is the time she sat on a chocolate chip cookie in the aforementioned skirt, that there is a white dribble line on her beautiful blouse, courtesy of six month old, and she doesn't even know that hubby used the scarf as an emergency cleaning rag. Two minutes before they have to be at church, Mom's still digging through her clothes pile, looking for a clean, non-ripped piece of clothing that fits her. And then, hubby walks in wearing nothing but his shorts and says, "What should I wear?"
4. Forgetting something really important. She sinks into the head rest. The children murmur quietly in their car seats. Strains of music soothe her aching head. For once, they're going to be on time. Then Daddy says, "Um, hon. I think we forgot something." Her eyes open and she slowly scans the rearview mirror. One, two, three, four. She nods. Daddy turns the car and heads for home, to find the three-year-old happily playing in the sandbox.
There are many opportunites for sanctification in one's life. Things like famine, drought and pestilence. But there is no greater trial than to take part in the everyday ritual of a young family getting ready to go out.