Morning meltdown: Chicago mom and the case of the missing mitten

I’m a single parent with two small daughters at home, ages eight and five. And while their dad is involved in their lives, I am the primary parent.

This means that I’m responsible for 95 percent of what’s needed for these two. It’s my job to keep track of this plethora of paperwork and remember what is supposed to be returned to school on any given day. In addition to paperwork, this time of year also brings a new set of challenges as each child needs to have boots, mittens, hats, scarves, snow pants and shoes that are transported back and forth.


We need to leave the house at a certain time so that no one is late (especially me). This has not changed in two years. And yet every morning at 7:55 a.m., a frenzied mess occurs that I can usually handle calmly because it’s like “Groundhog Day.” The same thing happens, over and over and over. Two little girls scramble and bicker and push and shove and FINALLY get their act together to get out the door SOMEWHERE close to the right time so that no one is late. I use logic and reason, play referee and we move along with our day.

Except when I lose my mind. And then the meltdown happens.

Like last week when one child couldn’t find a mitten. Yep, just a mitten. That’s all it took for me to lose it. Why that day? I have no idea. But when the usual bickering started and the panic of, “I can’t find my mitten,” was followed with the accusations of, “She did something with it!,” somehow all common sense and reason left my body and I lost it.

I won’t go into great detail about my rant, other than to say that there was yelling, an unpacking of everything they had already had packed for school and a relocation of laundry room appliances in the search of the missing mitten. (Please keep in mind that my laundry room is also our coat closet and our mudroom. And I can stand in the middle of the room, stretch my arms wide and touch both walls because it’s that narrow. Great visual, huh?)

10 minutes later and still no mitten, I was on the downswing of above-mentioned meltdown and decided that she will just go to school without it when I glance over at my girls. Gone were their usual smiling faces. They were just staring at me with sad eyes. I had totally deflated them by raising my voice over something as stupid as a mitten. I’d started their day making them feel crappy about themselves over a mitten?

I felt about three inches tall.

Tardy bell be damned, I plopped down on the kitchen floor and had my girls sit on the floor with me. I apologized to them for raising my voice. I told them that I was wrong. I didn’t make excuses or find a way to blame them for my actions.

I own my poor behavior. I ask them how it made them feel when I raised my voice. We talked about it until they both felt better and I didn’t rush them. They accepted my apology and we talked about finding ways to lessen the craziness in the morning to make it easier on all of us.

I want us to start the day with smiling faces and warm hearts; knowing that whatever the day may throw at us, we have each other to come home to at the end of the day. They need to know that their mother is always their safe place to land. Not the person that is going to flip out over a missing mitten. I’m never going to be perfect, and I am definitely going to make mistakes, but I want to do everything I possibly can to avoid seeing the sad and deflated faces that I saw on that morning.

With everyone feeling better, we hugged it out, got up off the kitchen floor and jumped in the car.

Where we found the missing mitten.

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