Actually it's a world of cycles within cycles... within cycles.
The day starts like this: If I'm lucky (and not hungover), I get up early to have a little 'me time' and maybe write a bit or get some work done (which is clearly not 'me time' at that point). Then the girls get up and the cycles start.
First we wake 'em up, then try to feed 'em: 'Okay, who wants juice? Both of you do? Okay, Lillian, your waffle is in the toaster and yes, I know you want 'extra syrup'. Here's your juice Sylvia. Lillian yours is already on the counter. Sylvia, what do you want? Sylvia, what do you want to eat? Are you hungry? You are going to school soon, so you need to eat. Sylvia, what do you want for breakfast? Broccoli? (The kid actually loves broccoli, which she pronounces 'bocky'.) No, we're not making broccoli for you. How about a waffle? Cereal? Drink yogurt? Luna bar? Spoon yogurt? Squeeze yogurt? Yogurt smoothie? No, you can't have peanuts... actually here are your peanuts.' (This is an abridged version of our usual food conversations with Sylvia by the way. Usually they last several minutes longer than this.) Cycle #1 complete... sort of.
Then we get them ready. Undies? Check. Acceptable clothing (no light up cowgirl boots on 97-degree days, no summer dresses in a snowstorm, nothing that doesn't totally clash, etc.)? Check. Hair, teeth? Check, check. Then shoes, backpack, lunches packed. Check, check, check. Then all previously mentioned items: 2 girls (dressed), 2 backpacks, 2 lunches (packed), 2 pairs of kids shoes (on feet) all loaded into the Prius. Assigned adult at the wheel, lucky adult kisses girls good-bye. Cycle #2 done.
Now mind you, on any given day, any one of the aforementioned items (shoes, teeth, lunch contents, etc.) can either suddenly become a huge battle (Lillian: 'But I HATE the collar on this shirt! HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT.') and/or a huge source of consternation. ('Sylvia, I have asked you seven - no, now EIGHT times - to get your shoes on.' 'No Sylvia, you cannot bring the cat to school, put her down!' 'Sylvia, WHERE ARE YOUR CLOTHES?')
And, on any given day, at least three of the aforementioned items actually will become an issue. The only question on any given day is, will it be minor or major?
Oh, and the last one, about Sylvia taking her clothes off is currently a given each day. At some point, maybe even after dressing her and getting her ready in her school clothes, she'll come around a corner, stark naked, singing her new favorite song, "I naked, I naked, I a naked girl, I naked," over and over again. It's super cute - on days that we're not running late. And there are no days where we aren't running late.
Cycle #3: drive the girls to school, get in the drop-off line, drop them off successfully, watch them walk hand-in-hand down the sidewalk into the preschool section of their school. Pull away from the curb and either:
1. Gloat with pride at just how cute/awesome/amazing they are
2. Immediately get your stomach in your throat with fear that 'something' will happen to them while they are at school
3. Fight back a tear because of just how cute/awesome/amazing they are
4. All of the above
The next cycle, #4, is - unfortunately - optional: get to gym. This one often doesn't happen because work is backed up, either one of us is just coming back from or going to a trade show, we're tired (aka hungover), or just generally feel like crap (gee, I wonder why? SEE: all other posts here).
Then I attempt to cram a 12-hour work day into 8.647 hours. (Mind you, this cycle has its own intricate complexities, frustrations, stresses, successes, etc. of course but, for the purposes of our home-life, it's just one more cycle to start, work through, and complete.) Sally, who is part-time will continue the school cycle by also picking up Sylvia at 10:30 (her preschool is only three hours) then collect her, buckle her up, drive, unbuckle her, and deposit her at an in-home daycare. She then attempts to cram an 8-hour day into about four hours. She then picks up both girls on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:30 - or at 4:30 on other days. (We like to keep it complicated. It makes it all even more fun.) Cycle #5 done.
Cycle #6: make dinner. Repeat previous food conversation with Sylvia but switch 'bocky' with 'waffle', as in: 'Sylvia, what do you want for dinner? No, you can't have a waffle. How about broccoli?' Then repeat that conversation several more times with Sylvia.
Lillian on the other hand will go something like this: "No, I HATE mac-n-cheese!" (Suddenly one day, after years of loving something like mac-n-cheese and asking for it 70% of all meals, she despises it. Bam! Like that. This generally happens immediately after Sally and I finally say, 'Let's just stock up on [insert girls' food of choice here] and get a TON of it.')
With cycle #7 we attempt to get children to actually EAT the dinner they just requested. This requires several conversations about what food should go where on their little (cute) segmented kids plates, what food is DISGUSTING or not (Lillian), why you should not show people the food you are currently eating (Sylvia), and several trips to get different kinds of water, in different kinds of cups, with/without ice, etc. Just as we've finally gotten them just what they want and we're both sitting down to actually eat, the girls are done eating and want to go bounce on the couch.
Cycle #8: sigh heavily and imagine what bar I'd like to go stay the rest of the night (or week)
Then we clean up. I fight urge to eat the girls leftover food (sliced apples, half peanut butter and honey sandwiches, etc.) rather than waste it and try to decide what food is actually worth trying to save (extra mac-n-cheese is useless for example, because they will not eat reheated mac-n-cheese, no matter how much we doctor it up). Cycle #9, check!
After maybe 30-45 minutes of actual play and fun stuff with them (or, more realistically, an errand or folding laundry or taking out all the trash), it's Cycle #10: bath time. Get them naked, get the tub full, get them in the tub, get them 'washed', stop them from fighting over a toy, maybe wash hair (an apparently horrifying, deadly ordeal for them both, thus often avoided), stop them from fighting over a toy, let them play while we both get into pj's and brush our own teeth, then get pissed that they are still fighting over said toy, get them out and try to get them dry-ish.
Cycle #11: undies on, PJ's on, teeth brushed, last pee, pick out one book each. Lucky parent kisses girls goodnight, other parent lies down with them, reads books, turns off light and lies/sits with them until they are asleep. (Yes, we STILL have not weened them off us being in the room, or even the bed, with them as they fall asleep. Hey, don't judge. It's on 'the list' of things to do... someday. This fall maybe. It's time, really.)
Cycle #12: attempt to sleep.
Then we start all over again with #1.
Every day, day after day. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse - you get it.
And if you think weekends are much different, they aren't. And actually they are harder than weekdays (yeah, GONE is the thought of 'recharging' on the weekends). For a weekend day, you simply replace Cycles #3 and #5 with this one:
Attempt to read paper. Scan headlines. Recycle paper. Discuss the day with Sally, attempt to prioritize doing 'something fun' with the girls. Choose said activity and try to fit it around all other necessary activities of the weekend: mowing lawn, grocery shopping, general errands to get more household supplies, possible odd errand like having to ship a box or deal with a license plate issue, etc. Run through all activities too quickly. Eat out too often. Fight voice inside head that says, 'You know, I could start drinking right now,' all day long. Eventually give in around 4pm and start drinking. Throw on a movie, pray that girls fall asleep to said movie so that you can actually skip Cycles #10 and #11. Girls don't fall asleep, but you skip #10 anyway and go right for #11. #12 actually becomes, 'pass out'.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Over and over and over and over again. These cycles make a day cycle, seven day cycles make a week cycle, and onward.
And by the time the cycles finally start to slow down and you might have time to actually enjoy spending time with them, they are 12 and have already started to resent you. But, at least then we'll get to read a book.