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A funny thing happened on the way to the office…


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.

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12 Responses

  1. Kristin January 7th, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing. It is these life moments that can make us cry at first and then laugh. I too had a day like this once, or twice, ok many of them. But one day, on my way to a photo shoot for my three younger kids, my oldest boy, who at the time was 4 decided to cut sweet E’s hair. At the time her hair was not very long but growing out nicely(she was 2) but the many cuts were made so short to her head that it was very noticable. He also took the scissors to his own hair. I cried and cried, then wondered how a pair of scissors could make their way into the car and into a four year olds hands. Frantically I called my friend to vent so that I wouln’t do anything harmful and she so wisely and calmly told me to capture the moment with the camera. She told me that one day I would laugh about it. Ah…those memories which do make our lives oh so interesting and so much sweeter-some how!

    I had no idea your morning went like that, so thanks for sharing. By the way- I would love to feed your little L and Jo Jo breakfast. I have lots of oatmeal! They usually like to sit and eat with my J anyway. I hope tomorrow morning goes a bit more smoothly.:)

  2. Sarah at SmallWorld January 8th, 2009 at 6:47 am

    LOVE it! You did, indeed, live that day!

  3. Heather January 8th, 2009 at 8:41 am

    My goodness, yes we have had some days like that around here, and I cannot help thinking–praise God that it wasn’t worse–I thought you were going to say you hit a tree or something.:)

  4. Jen January 8th, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Kristin, I love the story about E and J! Thank you for offering to feed Little L and JoJo. This morning JoJo said I didn’t need to feed her, no thanks, she’d eat at your house!! I suppose she didn’t want a repeat of yesterday. New Year’s Resolution: oatmeal is banned from the van!

    Sarah, thanks, I lived and I will cherish yesterday… :-)

    Heather, yes, it could have been much, much, worse, and I’m thankful it wasn’t.

  5. e-Mom January 8th, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Isns’t life full of funny and surprising moments?! Good story. I’m glad you wrote it down here for posterity! :~D

  6. tipper January 10th, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Jennifer a real life morning in world of being a working Mom! I enjoyed reading about it-even though I’m sure it was an aggravation to you. What I liked best was realizing along with you it was living life.

  7. Jen January 10th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    e-Mom, yes, life is full.

    Tipper, thank you for your thoughts on this.

  8. Darla Elliott January 11th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Cute story, Jen. I didn’t know you worked in an office. I thought you were a stay-at-home mommy. You never cease to amaze me!

  9. Jen January 11th, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Darla, I’ve been thinking about you, thank you for stopping by! I don’t actually work in an “office,” I just liked the title. :-) I do work outside the home this year, however. I’m teaching, and I was on my way to school in this story.

  10. Kakie January 12th, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    That is a great story, perhaps one you can tell at a wedding someday. I recall similar days where I would get to work and find a bottle, or a nuk, or a Hot Wheel in my coat pocket.

    My son is eight years old and a while back I wrote a post on my blog called: Soccer night – Is this schedule chaos or comedy?

    I think that when you see it, you may concur that we both have similar conclusions. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed reading your post.

  11. Super Mega Dad January 13th, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    I had never thought of eating breakfast in the car to save time! I’m glad I read this before I attempted it, because I would have ended up the same way. Except with maybe a crying 2 year old in there somewhere to mix things up! I sounds good on paper, at least. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Jen January 14th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Kakie, oh, the things I find in places they shouldn’t be…

    Super Mega Dad, so glad you’ve not thought of oatmeal in the car before!

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