05/27/2016 12:38 pm ET Updated May 28, 2017

I Am Having It All!

Michael Phillips via Getty Images

4:56 a.m.:
The alarm is going off.
No. The baby is going off.
No. The baby is shrieking.
I close my eyes. She is not a baby. She is firmly and absolutely a toddler. And she will definitely put herself back to sleep, the way she has (never done) before.

5:03 a.m.:
The Alarm is still shrieking. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore her. Plus, there are two other kids in the room -- let's call them The Threenager and The Eldest -- who are going to wake up pretty damned soon if The Alarm isn't quieted. I groan. The Beloved Husband, having taken on far more than his fair share of Alarm duty lately, should get a break. I drag myself out of bed.

5:15 a.m.:
I am collapsed on a mattress in our playroom. The Alarm smells strongly of pee, but her clothes are dry and I'll change her in a minute. First I am going to rest. The Alarm climbs on top of me. "Eye," she says. And pokes me in the eye. "Nose," she says. And pokes me in the nose. And so it continues:
She is giggling. I am not.
I haul myself up and carry her to the changing table. She sees what's coming and immediately begins to twist and thrash like a marlin on a hook. I dump her onto the table, and try to secure her in place with one hand while I attempt a one-handed undress-change-dress process. Every time I have to lift the hand that is holding her, she attempts to dive off the side of the table. In my head, I reject evolution. I reject intelligent design. I decide that everything is completely random.

5:45 a.m.:
I hear The Beloved Husband's alarm go off, and before he can even turn it off, I'm rushing into the bedroom and handing him The Alarm. I fall back into bed and pick up my phone. I check my work email. There is a calendar reminder that I have a Skype call at 6:30 a.m. with some folks in India. Also, there is a time-sensitive email that arrived at midnight. I drowsily type a response and hit send. I have no idea what I have just written.

5:50 a.m.:
While I'm dealing with emails, the older two wake up and stumble into the bedroom, rubbing their eyes. The Threenager climbs in next to me on one side. She looks me in the eye and says, "I love you, Mama." I smile. Then she sneezes in my face. I order both kids to their room to get dressed.

6:00 a.m.:
I head to the shower. I'm peacefully brushing my teeth and reading the apocalyptic news when I hear crying. I check to make sure it's not me crying about the state of the country/world/universe. It is not. I put down the toothbrush and seek out the source. It's The Threenager. She is trying to put on a turtleneck, but being generously endowed in the cranial region, it is stuck (again). Her arms wave helplessly, trapped above her head. The Eldest is trying to help, but being only 6 she lacks the requisite upper body strength. I give a yank and the shirt comes down. It may never come off.

6:03 a.m.:
I turn on the shower and hear more crying. It's The Threenager. She is caught in her sparkly tights and has fallen over. I untwist the tights. I return to the shower.

6:30 a.m.:
I am on my call. I've sequestered myself in my bedroom. The children are all rioting downstairs, but Beloved Husband gets to be the riot police for a little while. I'm worried that every time I take the phone off mute the call participants get a little closer to calling Social Services.

7:30 a.m.:
Our nanny arrives.* I grab two hard-boiled eggs to eat in the car for breakfast.

7:35 a.m.:
The Threenager emerges from the bathroom. I ask her, "Did you wipe, flush, and wash your hands?" The Threenager returns to the bathroom.

7:40 a.m.:
I leave the kids with the nanny and The Beloved Husband, who will drive The Threenager to preschool and then take The Eldest to her bus. In the car, I get on the phone with my boss so we can continue a conversation we started the night before. I cannot remember the last time I drove to or from work without being on a call.

8:22 a.m.:
I pull into a parking space outside the building where I have an 8:30 meeting. I quickly call the ENT office that will evaluate The Threenager for a possible tonsillectomy. Our pediatrician says that in 25 years of practicing medicine she's never seen anything like The Threenager's gargantuan tonsils. We are so proud.

10:12 a.m.:
My 8:30 meeting has run late (of course), so I have started my 10:00 meeting from the car on the way to my office. I race through the door, drop my things, and head into the meeting, pulling off my headset as I enter the conference room. My officemate calls me "Now You See Her, Now You Don't." This is a truism.

4:30 p.m.:
I have been in meetings straight through the day. I work at a non-profit, and it's a job I love, but it's definitely never quiet. There is a grant application due and a program partner who is melting down and strategic planning decisions to be made and a candidate to interview for an open position and a contract to review and roughly 7,000 emails in my inbox that need attention but that I can only get to in the two minute spaces between meetings. At some point I have been able to heat and scarf down some soup. I have no idea what kind of soup it was or what it tasted like.

4:30 p.m.:
I am headed home. Correction: I am attempting to head home, but four different colleagues need four different things before I leave. When the coast is clear, I sprint for the door. Blissfully, my drive home will be quiet.

4:45 p.m.:
I am finally in the car. I have texted the nanny to tell her I will be 10 minutes late. The phone rings. It is the Executive Director of the charter network for which I serve as chair of the Board of Directors. She's updating me on an evolving emergency. The call lasts until I pull into The Threenager's preschool parking lot.

5:45 p.m.:
I'm home. The Alarm is twirling in circles in the living room while the nanny claps a rhythm. The Eldest is on the couch, lost in a Ramona book. I get the report from the nanny and hear about school from The Eldest. It is the witching hour(s), so The Alarm is fussy. I take out the chicken I started marinating the night before, toss it in the oven, prep some vegetables and rice, and head upstairs to bathe the kids. The Alarm tries to throw herself into the tub before I have even gotten her clothes off. Luckily, The Threenager's shirt comes off without incident.

6:00 p.m.:
In the tub, The Alarm won't stop standing up and dancing around. I try to wash all three kids while maintaining a death grip on The Alarm so that she won't slip and knock herself out on the faucet. When all three kids are passably clean, The Alarm refuses to get out of the bath, and emphasizes this point by biting The Eldest. The Eldest starts crying, at which point The Threenager -- dripping wet and naked -- leaps into action and races downstairs to fetch an all-healing ice pack. On the way back she slips in a puddle of her own creation and falls down. Now she is back to the kitchen to get two ice packs.

6:10 p.m.:
After wrestling The Alarm out of the bath and into her diaper and pajamas (I don't want to talk about it), I race back downstairs to finish making dinner.

6:15 p.m.:
The Threenager emerges from the bathroom. I ask her, "Did you wipe, flush, and wash your hands?" The Threenager returns to the bathroom.

6:17 p.m.:
The Beloved Husband comes in and helpfully points out that The Alarm -- who has been suspiciously quiet -- has taken off her socks and is dipping her toes in the cat's water dish.

6:20 p.m.:
I have turned dinner and bedtime over to The Beloved Husband. I am printing out some materials and racing out to the door to the PTA meeting at The Eldest's school, where I will give a presentation on the work of the committee I lead. We try to have dinner and put the kids to bed as a family every night, but tonight is an exception. I hate that I'm missing my favorite part of the day.

8:00 p.m.:
I head home. The two younger ones are in bed. The Eldest is crying because her violin practice is hard and her science fair project is hard but she really really wants to keep trying with both. The Beloved Husband moves on to washing the dishes and making school lunch for the next day while I try to help with violin and science fair as I inhale my dinner.

8:21 p.m.:
I realize that I have not had a moment free all day to relieve my bladder, which is full from the coffee I rely on to keep me (somewhat) functional. I head to the bathroom only to discover that someone -- I have a likely suspect in mind but will protect her identity -- has clogged the toilet. I grab the plunger from the basement and plunge the hell out of the toilet. I think about how glamorous my life is.

8:30 p.m.:
It is time for The Eldest to go to bed. Usually this is when I sit in their room and read, but tonight there is a grant report I have to review that I haven't gotten to during the day, and I need to order The Eldest a new spring jacket and rain boots, and I have to read over the materials for the Board of Directors meeting I'm leading the next day, and there's an estimate from the contractor who is repairing damage to our house, so the novel I'm reading will have to wait.

8:43 p.m.:
The Threenager is still awake and needs to go to the bathroom. When she comes back I ask her, "Did you wipe, flush, and wash your hands?" The Threenager returns to the bathroom.

9:00 p.m.:
As I leave to head downstairs, The Threenager, who is still awake, tells me she needs water. I run and get her water. Then she pulls me close and asks me who is picking her up from school the next day. I tell her. She pulls me close again and says, "I love you." I tell her I love her. She pulls me close and asks for five kisses and three hugs. I give her five kisses and three hugs. I head towards the door. She calls me back in a whisper. She needs two more kisses and four more hugs. I give them, along with a fierce look that means, "Go. To. Sleep." I head for the door. She calls me in a whisper. I swivel around. "Bye!" she calls, and waves. "Bye!"

9:30 p.m.:
I stop working to call my dad. I have tried to call him every day since my mom died in 2011. My mom raised four kids and was an ecologist and musician and cooked dinner from scratch every night and did the lion's share of the housework. I never asked, and will never know, how she did it all.

9:40 p.m.:
The Beloved Husband and I close our computers. We try to set aside a little time each evening to talk and spend quiet time together.

10:03 p.m.:
Our quiet time ends when my boss texts. "I know it's late," the text reads. "Do you have a minute?" I know it's fine if I say no, but I also know that she wouldn't ask if it wasn't important. I pick up my phone and call.

10:50 p.m.:
I'm off the phone. We drag ourselves upstairs and get ready for bed.

11:15 p.m.:
We're in bed. Right before sleep, we do our nightly appreciations. "I appreciate that you wrangled them into bed while I went to my meeting," I say. "I appreciate that you unclogged the toilet," he says. We give each other a sweet kiss, and fall asleep.

12:23 p.m.:
The Threenager is crying. She is crying loudly enough that The Alarm is crying too. We jump up. The Threenager has thrown up on the carpet. We move her into the bathroom and start cleaning her up. I ask, "Did you throw up in your bed too?" She shakes her head no. I check. She has thrown up in her bed too.

4:37 a.m.:
The alarm is going off.
No. The baby is going off.
No. The baby is shrieking.
I roll over and squeeze my eyes shut. There has been very little sleep. There has been a lot of throwing up. There has been a lot of waking up of others, especially of toddler others who are notoriously bad at getting back to sleep. Then I smile. I'm tired -- very, very, tired -- but I'm happy. And I wouldn't trade this crazy, full-to-the-brim, non-stop life for anything.

*Necessary disclaimer: We are very, very lucky to be able to afford a nanny. It means that we have almost no disposable income and our finances are tight and we're barely saving, but after a bad experience with a home day care (I'm going to just say, "boa constrictors," and leave it at that), and with two more-than-full-time jobs, it's what we have to do.

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