The other morning, I got up extra early to make the boys a “fun breakfast,” as they like to call it. Basically, a fun breakfast is anything other than cold cereal or eggs. It is also anything that requires lots of ingredients, and lots of time.
But, I was happy to do it. Because these are the kinds of things that make me feel like a good mom. Plus, I love to bake. Plus, I promised them a fun breakfast on Monday, and then again on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday, and I failed to deliver. I served, instead, cold cereal; cold cereal; and toast with fruit, in that order.
Needless to say, I had two very unhappy patrons at my table the last few days. Stoic faces and grumpy pout-mouths framed in bright blue toothpaste parentheses raised the guilt quotient effectively.
What is it about sad toothpaste mouth on a kid that sends a vice to your heart, each inch of stray crust worth an additional tightening crank?
I owed them pretty big.
So, I’m in the kitchen culling the ingredients for a Blueberry Breakfast Cake — a more “fun”-sounding breakfast I challenge you to find — the sunshine beaming through my moderately clean (!) windows to spray a runway of light along a row of ceramic floor tiles. A “good mommy” runway, of sorts. I took measured steps within the light as I paced back-and-forth to grab teaspoons and tablespoons, eggs and flour and cartons of fresh blueberries.
The jazz music streaming through the speakers encouraged a sort of choreographed production out of the whole process. I moved rhythmically, like a woman on the brand-name side of a split-screen commercial for floor cleaner — I was doing “it” right, and my floor was gonna be all the shinier, or, rather, my breakfast cake all the tastier.
I’m such a mom — the mommy-est, in fact! [Happy] sigh….
I practically glided toward the pantry on a quest for more white sugar.
I found the bag of sugar — half-full, its top end loosely rolled up into itself (no clip, no rubber band. Husband!) — on the top shelf, and made a quick grab for it.
Right as the bag swung over the floor of the pantry — immediately before meeting the added security of my second hand, intent on supporting its heavy bottom and assisting in the carry-over to my food prep area — it slipped from my grasp.
Dropping straight down, the bag hit the edge of the last pantry shelf, which gave it just enough chutzpah to flip over entirely, sending 2.5 million teeny tiny sugar granules flying in all directions.
You know, it’s funny how I react to these kinds of things when I have no audience.
If the husband had been sitting at the table behind me, it is of little doubt I would have launched into a litany of foul language, complete with exaggerated sighing and lots of angry hand gestures.
But I was alone.
And, like the whole “a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it” riddle, I didn’t make a sound.
I just stood there, absorbing the reality of 2.5 million teeny tiny sugar granules all over the floor.
All over the floor, and also inside my wicker basket that corrals bottled waters and juice boxes, inside the many folds of several reusable grocery bags wedged between the wicker drink basket and the wall, and inside the many compartments of my juicer — the one I had to have — that sits, never-used, on the pantry floor to the right of the drink basket.
As I left the scene to fetch a vacuum, I noticed the whole spilling/staring/absorbing 2.5 million sugar granules thing cost me some time. If I was going to make good on my promise, I’d have to leave the mess for later. I had to get the cake in the oven now.
Besides, the mess was safely contained inside the pantry, right? It could easily wait.
I scurried back to the counter, and began to mix and stir.
In my hurry, I accidentally flung maybe an eighth of the flour-baking soda-salt portion on the counter, while aiming instead for the bowl.
Shit. Well, what’s an “eighth,” really? I reasoned. Not much.
Add to that another sixteenth, as I failed to snap the speed switch on the standing mixer to its slowest setting, sending a cloud of flour-baking soda-salt into the surrounding atmosphere, quickly settling over top a pile of yet-to-be-filed paperwork left next to the mixer.
Ready to pour the batter into the pan, I realized I had forgotten to grease it. I’d need the shortening.
Back to the pantry.
I swung open the pantry doors and took a barefoot step forward into a sandcaslte mound of forgotten sugar.
Oh, come on! Damn it!
I lifted my foot and strategically lunged to avoid further contact with the mess. In an acrobatic stretch, I reached for the shortening, inconveniently guarded by several large cans of crushed tomatoes. Straining my back, I used my fingertips to coax the cans out of the way, and then tried for the shortening.
Down came the tub of grease with a lid-loosening crash, along with two cans of tomatos, and a box of Raisin Bran to boot.
It now seemed I had a better chance of making breakfast from all that had been spilled on the floor than from what was left coagulating in the mixer.
Racing to the sink, I created a delicious little trail for the Springtime ants that had already begun to make their appearance in our home last week.
Crunch, step, crunch, step, crunch, step.
I flipped forward the the faucet handle and shoved my hands under the running water for a quick clean-up.
The steady stream ricocheted off a pile of dirty dinner plates, sending a geyser spray to soak the counter, pool along the edge, and then drip-drop in polite little splots all over the tops of my feet and the floor.
And now cue the first set of footsteps overhead.
I buttered the baking dish, added the batter, and threw the no-longer-“fun”- breakfast into the oven.
Not only was I not feeling like the “mommy-est” of moms anymore, I was actually slightly resenting the kids.
The kids — with their first-world breakfast demands, and their bed head tousled into indignant little spikes of hair, and that toothpaste — do they not have a mirror and a damn towel, for God’s sake?
I was now completely ragey. Almost nuts.
Which is probably why, in my mad dash for that vacuum, I slammed my shoulder into the door frame that marks the transition of kitchen to living room (where the vacuum, of course, had been sitting like a display piece for the past two days).
F@#!ing stupid door frame! F@#!in stupid, clumsy shoulder! I screamed in my head.
It was at this point that the jazz music went from zippy morning accompaniment to a gnawingly nerve-rattling blend of various screams and screeches.
Loud, intrusive explosions of sound seemed to punctuate each mishap.
Shoulder slam — TRUMPET BLAST! Tipping-over vacuum — SAXAPHONE BLAST! Accidental yank of vacuum cord from electrical socket mid-clean up — ANOTHER TRUMPET BLAST! interspersed with a little Carmen McRae bee-da-ba-da-boop-ing for good measure.
What began as a great morning had quickly devolved into a womp-womp-womp-waaaa, all thanks to that bag of sugar setting off a Rube Goldberg chain of unfortunate events.
Now, of course, no one was there with me in that kitchen. I had no witness to corroborate my good intentions, my happy mood, my dancing up and down a sunlit runway of light and joy. No one saw my repeated attempts to regroup after each irritating episode threatened to derail the whole thing.
But now, whistling down the steps came the husband.
As I stood — detachable vacuum hose in one hand, the other hand willing sugar granules out of grocery bag crevasses — the husband rounded the corner to meet my crazed gaze.
“Goooood morning, babe!’ he greeted.
Silence paired with slight shoulder cringe.
“The f@#!-ing sugar spilled all over the f@#!-ing pantry floor, and I was trying to make this stupid breakfast cake for the kids, who probably won’t even eat it anyway….” I trailed off.
“Baby — relax,” said the husband, foolishly.
As in the story about the Saturday evening drive, I will save the sordid details of what an order to “relax” does to me for another post entirely. Let’s just say it does nothing at all to assist in its intended effect.
The kids did end up eating the cake, and actually told me they liked it — small victory.
Once everyone had cleared the house, I cleaned up the many messes, trading out the jazz station for AC/DC on the iphone.
My day then continued as usual, though I pondered more than once why the road to Hell really does always seem to be paved with good intentions.
Such is the life of a mom, I suppose.