In the life of the typical mom we have a defense mechanism I like to call AutoPilot. Mommy Autopilot takes over on mundane tasks, routine behavior infarctions and allows us to keep our sanity. Let me explain:
Mommy Auto Pilot is helpful because kids are relatively predictable at each of the major events of the day. You can bet they will slack getting ready for school, they are crabby after school, rude at dinner and won’t want to shower and/or go to bed. Its these times that mom’s go on Auto Pilot and say the following canned responses.
What do you mean you can’t find your jacket, it should be hanging where it BELONGS?!
Why can’t you tie your shoes? You are ____ years old (insert age here).
Do you have your homework? We have to do our homework before we play video games.
Can you wait 15 min for me to make a snack? You will NOT die of starvation in those 15 min.
Sit on your butt like a normal person to eat your food please. We don’t need to sit on our feet, squat or jump on/off our dinner chair.
They are vegetables, not poison. Just eat them and grow up strong.
Get in the shower so you aren’t the “smelly kid” in class.
Its bedtime. Its bedtime. Its bedtime. Get back in your bed. Its bedtime.
And my favorite one that can be used anytime/anyplace: We do this SAME thing EVERYDAY!! Is it really shocking and appalling that we have to …….. brush our teeth, put on our coats, get to school on time, do our homework, feed the dog, wash our hands before dinner, so on and so forth.
I do mix up the autopilot parenting sometimes by making up consequences for the repetitive infractions on Daily Manners. I do this on the spot and most of the time the consequence is an epiphany that spews from my mouth like molten parenting lava. Like when we had a rash of gaseous emissions nightly at the dinner table. I understand in some cultures this is a compliment to the meal, but with 4 boys the gas became noxious and oppressing so one night I blurted out “the next one to emit gas from any orifice will be the one cleaning the kitchen after dinner”. The table suddenly became eerily quiet and there wasn’t a burp to be heard for days. Then when one would sneak out I would be like “aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh, nice one. the dishwasher is full and if you need help arranging the plates in the dishwasher I will supervise but not touch any dirty flatware or dishes”.
I don’t really prefer to be on Auto Pilot for parenting but if I began to care about the daily tasks and issues I might lose some (more) sanity. I have done about 1,000,000 fixes to get the kids more organized and on track, but I am usually met with opposition and disgust. Lockers were placed in the laundry room so they had a place for back packs and shoes and I wouldn’t have to autopilot harp on where things should be kept. However the shoes still end up piled by the back door. There are enough coat hooks in/around the house for an entire football team to adequately hang up their gear. But yet the coats are on the floor underneath where the coat hooks are placed. Socks are separated from underwear and each is put away in the SAME drawer every time laundry is done but no one can ever find socks and underwear. Long sleeve shirts in one closet, short sleeve in the other and I constantly find them in front of the short sleeve closet saying “Mooooooooom where is my long sleeved Darth Vader shirt”? I could sigh and yell but instead I simply say “wrong closet” on autopilot and they seem to get the point. Mommy autopilot allows for these (and more) daily infarctions to roll off our mommy backs like water off a duck.
Autopilot is a mom’s sanity check. We kinda zone out for awhile but we are still productive. Clothes are still getting folded, dishwasher is still getting emptied and groceries are still being bought but its done practically subconsciously on autopilot. So when we kick back into reality after a blood curdling scream from the basement (he cheated at air hockey) the chores can seem to magically be done.
One of the best auto-pilot times is at the grocery store (sans kids, of course). Moms have the layout of the grocery store is rooted into our minds like Indiana Jones memory of the map to the Holy Grail (Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in the same action film– yum). Sorry- I digress; moms on autopilot in the grocery store are prevalent during the hours of 8a-2p, M-F– prime school hours. We can been seen skillfully maneuvering the isles and packing our cart like a complex game of Tetris. We move left to right, front to back because we can keep the bread & bananas in the child seat while stacking the cereal on the back of the cart to make a good, solid foundation for things to be stacked in front of that. Keeping in mind raw meat and the 3 gallons of milk need to be on the bottom of the cart as to not squish or contaminate the other groceries. The beauty of moving in the grocery front to back, left to right is that you end up in the wine isle last. So you can buy that decompression stress release bottle at the end of the auto pilot journey you just undertook. At the end of the trip you get to put that Pinor Noir on the top of your cart like a cherry on a milkshake knowing as soon as those kids are in bed you will be able to savor a nice, quite glass of red.
The only glitch in going on autopilot to the grocery is when an odd item pops up on the list. Something you don’t buy day in, day out. It temporarily wakes you up and makes you think: is the corn syrup I need for that dessert in the baking isle or with the other pancake syrup? Where are those big boxes of matches and are straws in the soda isle or with the plastic forks? Its those days that autopilot gets put on hold for a few minutes until you find said item and imprint it into your Holy Grail road map of the Jewel. FYI: corn syrup is with pancake syrup, matches are next to the paper plates (really? safety first) and straws are found both next to the soda on those little hangy things mid isle AND with the plastic forks.
I guess that’s what mom’s are for. To know where each and every important item is in the house, grocery or car (the seat belt cutter/window smasher in under the passenger seat while extra socks for the spur of the moment bounce house trip are in the glove box) and we can do it on auto pilot. We have developed a road map to the mundane for each and every thing in a 5 mile radius to our house (plus everything IN our house) and its embedded into our sub-cortex. We can find lost homework, matching socks and favorite yogurts stashed in the back of the fridge. We know bread and cereal are in isle 2 with the generic brands mid isle, chest height and we can do it with one eye open/coffee in hand. We don’t even have to think about it. We just know: thanks to mommy autopilot! Carry on moms, carry on.