Automatic Pilot

I got up at 6 am this morning, just like usual. I started the coffee and cleared out the dishrack while it brewed. I got out my small pan and threw in a scrambled egg to make my goat cheese and avocado omelet. Then I sat with the newspaper and got caught up on the news. The kids’ alarm went off at 7 am, and we started the hustle and bustle of getting ready in 45 minutes. Quick shower, hair and make-up, the long process of figuring out what to wear – all while the kids got themselves dressed, made their breakfasts, and packed their lunches. A couple of the usual reminders that hair and teeth needed to be brushed and shoes needed to be put on, and we were out the door. We started down the road while I mused once again if I had remembered to turn off the coffeepot. I always did without thinking, a habitual flick of the switch when I set my coffee cup with its traditional third of a cup left unsipped. I thought about turning around again since we were on time, but decided against it, placing faith in my automatic pilot to have done it for me.

We merged into traffic on the 12, getting behind the same car that we have followed many times before. They must be on the same schedule as us. I dropped my son off first, signing all of his homework at the very last minute, as usual. Then I dropped my daughter off. We listened to the same radio morning show we always listen to and piped in to answer the questions to their latest contest in the privacy of our own car. And then, before I knew what was happening, I was at work.

Yesterday I was driving home from work to go pick the kids up from my parents’ house. A Pink song came on the radio and I hummed along. It made me think of her amazing performance at the Grammys. I thought about the feedback she must have heard after the show. She must have had friends and fans alike telling her how awesome it was, probably still to this day. And what about her family? Pink is notorious for her outbursts and wild nature. I remembered a story once of a Thanksgiving she attended at her in-laws house. She and her husband got into a full on fight at the dinner table and starting throwing food all around the dining room. Her in-laws must have been amazed that she was capable of something so raw and beautiful.

And that’s when I realized that the ground was moving below me, and my stomach actually jumped. I had been so engrossed in daydreaming that I had actually exited the car and was floating in oblivion while my body kept driving the car to my parents’ house.

The routine is never changing, always the same. A deviation in it would throw our whole schedule off. But because it is so routine, I find that I can do it half asleep and never remember what is going on in between Point A and Point D. It can be a little jarring when I get so caught up in doing the same thing every day that I am doing it without thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven somewhere and, once at my destination, I literally can’t remember what happened during the drive. I don’t even remember driving!

Are you the same? Is your schedule so intact that you can do it without thinking? Between kids activities, the school and work routine, and all else that takes up your time as a busy mom, do you find yourself most days on Automatic Pilot?

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3 thoughts on “Automatic Pilot”

  1. It’s hard not to get caught up in things while driving. You forgot to mention the thousands of times that you drifted off to think of your friend Kristin and how awesome she is. How her hair is always perfectly styled and her manners impeccable, her smile like a ray of sunshine, and that without her your life would scarcely be worth living…

    Ah yes…sigh.

  2. You know the idea of regularity to that extent used to freak me out. I love change to a fault. But now, many years later, I can’t wait to find myself predictable, grounded, aware (or not so aware) of my routine. Because not having that consistency can be overwhelming and tiring after a while.

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