8:00am I wake to the sound of the boys fighting downstairs. I force myself to sit up and stretch muscles that ache for no discernible reason. Once I am limber enough to move again, I plop down the stairs and yell at the boys that they need to stop yelling.
8:15am I sweep the kitchen floor, which looks like it hasn't been swept in a week, even though I swept it last night and decide I really need to mop the floor today.
8:30am I'm making 4 bowls of oatmeal, pouring glasses of orange juice, and passing out morning medication and supplements. My neighbor Patricia drops by to tell me that a friend of ours in the park might be moving out. We are worried for our friend. I chat with her about the situation while I serve the kids and clean up the dishes.
9:00am I make sure all the kids are dressed and start them on their schoolwork. I note that Emma's fingernails are getting long and decide it's time to make my way around the house clipping 100 child-sized nails on my 5 kids.
10:00am I make a potty-chart for Elijah, tape it to the wall, and explain how he can earn a favorite toy by keeping his underwear clean for 7 days. Elijah is super excited as he puts his clean underwear on. I check on school work progress with the other kids and decide that I really need to organize the school room shelves.
10:15am Toby, who would really like for Elijah to earn the toy follows Elijah around asking, "Do you need to go potty now, Elijah? How about you just go try."
11:30am I wash up the dishes in the kitchen and put an enormous pot of water on the stove to boil the 4 lbs of rice pasta we will need for today's meals. Things are going well today.
11:35am Matt drops into the kitchen to remind me he needs me to make him a lunch before he leaves in half an hour. I pack a lunch for Matt.
11:45am Matt yells that Elijah is peeing on the floor in my office and that he doesn't have time to deal with it because he needs to get to work. I run to sit Elijah on the potty, run to get paper towels, and scramble to wipe up the dribbles before anyone steps on them while Matt comments, "There's a puddle over here. Can't you see that? I don't know how you can't see that. Do I have any pee on my shoes? Do they look wet to you? Are you sure?"
11:47am Emma is yelling something from the school room, but, being knee-deep in pee, I figure it can wait while I finish up here, besides Naomi is going to check on Emma.
11:48am Naomi yells for me with urgency. I leave Elijah on the potty with the floor only half cleaned and find that Emma has knocked over a full glass of water on the school room computer desk. She has soaked piles of mail, bills, school papers, and mobile-home park documents that hadn't been sorted from my desk in way too long. My finest parenting moment does not follow. Emma is in tears and I have to apologize to her later for my overreaction. She forgives me, of course, because she is Emma. The papers get dried or they get thrown away, and life goes on.
12:00pm Matt dashes out the door for work in the midst of the chaos and Elijah stands by the door sobbing, "I want a kiss good-bye! I want a kiss good-bye!" I run to the door and call to Matt, who gets back out of the car to kiss Elijah good-bye. I finish cleaning the floor that had been peed on.
12:30am The pot on the stove is boiling over and still contains no noodles whatsoever. Matt has left for work in the chaos. I boil 4 lbs of rice noodles, brown 2 lbs of sausage, and add 5 jars of spaghetti sauce to fill our 12qt stock pot with pasta.
1:00pm Lunch is served. Late, but served.
1:20pm I put Elijah down for a nap, switch a load of laundry, then spend an hour on the phone with a friend who needs a friend to talk to.
2:30pm Patricia is back for another visit and we chat while I clean up from lunch, drink coffee, and put two loaves of bread in the bread maker. The friend from the park who might have moved has decided to stay, so we are glad. I catch a glimpse of that friend walking outside my window and yell to her to ask her to come and talk to me later. She promises she will.
3:30pm The kids swarm the kitchen looking for snacks. More dishes and crumbs are created.
3:50pm Elijah wakes up from his nap with a wet and poopy pull-up. He gets a sad face on his potty chart. It's come to that.
4:00pm The doorbell rings. A lady who lives in my trailer park is yelling frantically to other people who are running around the park. I open the door and she tells me, "The baby is missing! Call the police!" Her 2 year-old granddaughter had disappeared from the family's house over 20 minutes ago. I call 911 and run into the backyard, very worried. I try to gather information from people who are crying and yelling. The whole trailer park is coming out to look now. I tell the mother the police are on their way. Suddenly the child's uncle appears and says she has been found safe, in another trailer on the opposite end of the park. We all sigh, and thank God.
4:10pm A police officer arrives to make sure there was no suspicious activity. I explain the situation and he is happy to hear that all is well. I make sure all the kids have finished their school work for the day, cheek over Hannah's journal entry, start the dishwasher, and switch the laundry again.
5:30pm The doorbell rings. A man who has just bought a trailer in my park has come by to meet me and to tell me that he will be moving in today. We chat about our backgrounds, the rules of the park, the protocol for rental payments, his neighbors, what churches we attend, and how well he and Matt would get along. I make a mental note to invite him for dinner soon.
6:00pm The kids want dinner. Dinner is leftover pasta and fresh bread from the bread makers. More dishes and crumbs are created. Naomi agrees to unload and reload the dishwasher. Bless her heart.
7:00pm Elijah pooped in the potty! Cheers, high-fives, parades, and confetti follow--also a poop-flushing ceremony, which is mandatory.
7:10pm Clean-up time is announced. The kids bicker, and eventually agree on who is cleaning up which room. Toby and Elijah surprise me by actually cleaning--in between playing with the cat, fighting over toys, and running circles around the house, of course--but they clean.
7:45pm Elijah sighs and talks about how busy he is as he wanders around the house with a dart-gun. "I shot the computer!" he announces with a grin. Hannah and Toby get in a contest to see who can lift the other one higher. Hannah gives Toby a piggy-back ride while Elijah chases them with the dart gun.
8:00pm I sit the kids down with a pre-bedtime movie. Matt is working late tonight. I type at my computer to remember the chaos, the friendships, the worry, the relief, and the accomplishments of my day.
The kids will be all tucked in at 9:00 and I will draw a long, slow breath. I will greet Matt with the news of Elijah's potty accomplishment, the news that our neighbor friend isn't moving after all, and the news that we have a new neighbor we need to invite for dinner. Tomorrow we will all be heading to our nephew's birthday party. I will never mop the kitchen floor or organize the school room shelves. This is a day in my life.