When kids go back to school, mothers everywhere are faced with the same old problem. It's one major obstacle course to get all those bodies bathed, dressed, combed, fed, and out the door before the tardy bell rings. All this is difficult, but not life threatening. It's what comes next that brings every mother to her knees.

After you get all the eating, dressing and combing done and you're starting to take a deep breath because it's only 17 seconds before the bus comes, every child remembers what he forgot at precisely the same instant. You are suddenly bombarded with:"Mom you need to sign my reading chart."

"Mom what does the rotation of the earth have to do with the climatic conditions around the world? Quick, it's going to be on my geography test today."

"Mom, it's my show-and-tell today and teacher said I can't bring any more things that breathe unless you come with me and take them back home with you."

"Mom, I can't find my (a) piano book, (b) other shoe, (c) clean underwear, (d) gym shorts, (e) glue, (f) back pack, (g) library book, (h) eraser, (i) locker combination, (j) newspaper article, (k) coat, (l) hat, (m) boot, (n) umbrella, (o) book report (p) tissue (Yes, tissue. Every one of my children's teachers requested a box of tissue this year.), (q) Weekly Reader money, (r) high school play money, (s) field trip money, (t) book club money, (u) school picture packet money, (v) lunch money, (w) reading calendar, (x) pencil box (y) lunch pass, or (z) insect collection.

Of course, by now mother can't find her (a) sense of humor, (b) sanity, or (c) patience.

Some day, I tell myself, I will rip off my ratty housecoat, fuzzy slippers and morning breath and make a quick change into fluorescent leotards. Instantaneously, I will become a supermom who arises at 4 a.m., showers, dresses, styles her hair and puts on her makeup by 4:03. I will play classical music as I breeze about the kitchen flipping eggs and squeezing fresh orange juice while my children wake and happily go about doing their morning chores. Later we will have a well-planned, unhurried family devotional to give everyone the perfect start to their well-planned, unhurried day. Maybe things would go a little smoother if I approached my mornings this way.

But one of these days never seems to come and I find myself dragging myself out of bed at the last possible moment. Before I step into the shower, I yell my standard tender motherly good morning expression to my children, "You kids turn off that TV before it pickles your brain."

Mornings don't always run smoothly around my house. We're like a pack of nervous thoroughbred horses before the race begins. But before any nervous filly or colt leaves my starting gate, this old mare gives them a big juicy kiss and a hug big enough to last through the scraped knee at morning recess, the liver and onions at noon and the failed math test in the afternoon.

My children are not always dressed in matched clothes, but I hope they're dressed in the assurance that no matter how rough it gets out there, someone will always be here when they come home. And I don't even think it will matter to them if that someone is wearing fluorescent leotards or a ratty housecoat and fuzzy slippers.