I guess it was my turn to have a harried day. I was running late, and felt a tightening in my stomach and race in my heart when JoJo, who was supposed to be buckled in the van, appeared in the doorway to declare that “I hate to tell you, but there is a little problem.” 7:05 a.m. read the clock, taunting me that I should be halfway to my destination by now.
I advised the little one to get Daddy, as I was still scrambling to pack one more lunch and grab my coffee. And scoop the pan of hot oatmeal into bowls for the kids to eat in the van, clearly a decision of a raving mad mother. Imagine four children eating full bowls of hot oatmeal on a bumpy road with lots of curves.
Ah, the problem the little one spoke of. I found my husband outside in the morning frost, attempting his manly best in his bedroom slippers to reattach the van sliding door which had come unhinged. It appeared to be hanging by a thread, but with some skillful maneuvering, he worked some magic and jockeyed the door back into proper position. 7:10 a.m., I gulped back the anxiety of being late yet again, trying to give due thanks that I don’t have to drive ten miles with no door.
Back to the oatmeal. Three of the children are adept enough to handle their bowls, but LIttle L, at age four, just can’t manage. I placed his bowl as I did before on the dash (how humiliating to admit I’ve done this before) to eat once I drop him off with the babysitter. The three older ones gobbled down their breakfast, miraculously without so much as an oat overboard, and I made it within three blocks of Little L’s stopping place.
I rounded the corner and my eye was on my coffee, which I was also guarding in the cup-holder, as it was not a sturdy lidded mug (another unfortunate decision), but a lovely tall ceramic mug. So far so good. Some left over oomph from the turn caught up with the bowl, however, and I watched helplessly as it slid forward into the windshield, splashing milk and oats which dribbled down into the vents.
Drats, I say (really I said something worse) clenching my teeth, but I had to straighten wheel from my turn, and I must have inadvertently hit the gas, because now the bowl came flying back toward me. Before I could blink, the bowl hurtled over the dash like it was in the Indy 500 and crashed in about five pieces on the floor between the driver and passenger seats. Oats, milk, and Dansk Concerto Allegro Blue dinnerware were in a shocking muddle.
“Mommy!” cried Big L, who is extremely sentimental for a nine year old, “your wedding bowl!”
“Mommy!” cried Little L, who was extremely hungry, “my oatmeal!”
“My mug!” I cried, as I noticed that as the bowl went down it took out the handle of the charming ceramic mug. My dear friend had given me this mug just a few weeks earlier, and I loved the sweet saying on the side of it:
Cherish yesterday, live today, dream tomorrow.
Well, I got the mess sort of cleaned up as best I could, promised Little L that the babysitter would feed him, and assured Big L that I could always buy another bowl.
When I finally arrived at work (7:30 a.m. and missed my morning meeting), I saw my friend who had gifted me with the treasured mug. I told her the hapless tale of my morning, and she said, “Jennifer, this story should be written!” because she is a nostalgic, romantic type who sees the tenderness of it all and is wise enough to know that simple events like these, in all their comedy of errors, can become priceless family memories.
So, Julia, this is for you, and that handle-less mug sits on my kitchen windowsill tonight reminding me that I did, indeed, live today.