This morning I decided I would bake bread. I enjoy baking bread, but I don’t do it very often, mostly because it is work and work is something I avoid as much as possible. However, now and again I get a craving for a grilled cheese sandwich made on homemade bread, and today was one of those days. So I got up, put my slippers on, and headed to the kitchen to get it mixed up and raising before the family got up.
Right about the time that I was carefully measuring the fourth cup of flour into the mixing bowl, I heard my darling, patient, sweet older son start to cough. We’ve been sharing a cold in our family for about a month, complete with two cases of pinkeye, two ear infections, and a very big lot of nights where I have been woken up by someone crying. Currently Ryan and Sam are both on antibiotics and Art is home sick from work. Anyway, the coughing coming from the boys’ room soon evolved into crying, and when I say crying I mean a horrible grating howly whine that can take me from happy happy sunshine to suicidal in 30 seconds flat.
I am a terrible mother, and I know this because of my response when my children are sick. I just don’t have patience for it. I can deal with medicine and temperatures and chicken noodle soup and countless trips to the doctor and even eye drops but I can NOT deal with the way my son cries when he doesn’t feel good. He is such a drama queen! I just want to smack him and tell him to GET OVER IT!!! (side note: I do not smack my children. I just thought I should clear that up). Anyway, I am fairly sure that the fact that my child’s howling does not evoke feelings of deep sympathetic mother love in my bosom makes me a failure as a mom. Flog me.
It took about twenty minutes to get Ryan to calm down, and when I say “calm” I mean sniffling on the sofa instead of dramatically wailing in the bedroom. I returned to my kitchen and my bread with the joyful, loving heart of a mother who has just bribed her four-year-old into shutting up by giving him motrin. Once the dough was raising in a warm, moist oven, I turned my thoughts to other womanly things– getting breakfast on the table for my children.
Breakfast in our house is a very predictable thing, basically my children have the same thing every morning: bananas, cereal, and milk. Occasionally Sam will have his milk ON his cereal, but Ryan’s breakfast selections are not permitted to touch. Sometimes they have toast instead of cereal, but only if I feel like cooking. I have Shredded Wheat and Bran every morning. And my husband has four pots of coffee and either leftovers from dinner the night before or one of his unique scrambled egg creations, which I like to call Something Nasty with Eggs. Seriously. The man puts things in his eggs that I would never in a million years think of. Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn’t put the leftovers in the fridge because it’s fairly likely they’ll turn up in Eggs if I do.
Anyway, one look into my cupboards and refrigerator told me I was in trouble. No milk. No bananas. No cereal. And no bread, unless you counted the unraised lump of dough in a well-greased bowl in my oven. Which oddly enough I didn’t. After a conference with my husband, it was determined that he would stay home and read Charlotte’s Web to the urchins while I ran to the nearby convenience store to find a decent substitute for breakfast.
Amazingly enough, our local gas station carries Wonder Bread for only about $5 a slice, and milk for approximately $10 per gallon. Avoiding the case stocked with donuts and the other case holding the yummiest breakfast pizza ever, I got a loaf of bread, some milk, a cup of coffee, and a pack of gum. After signing the paperwork for our new twenty-year adjustable rate mortgage I was able to afford to buy breakfast for my family, and home I came, ready to provide my family with a well-balanced, nutritional meal of applesauce, toast and peanut butter, and milk. Yummy.
I learned something new today, and that is that applesauce, toast, peanut butter, and milk, when consumed by a child with a cough and an ear infection and a penchant for whining and general dramatic behavior, are like a miracle drug. No sooner had the last crumb of toast been nibbled and the last speck of applesauce licked from the plate (I pretended not to see because I was NOT in the mood– more proof of my terrible motherness), then the Child Formerly Known as Sicko was CURED!!! Gone was the earache, gone was the hacking cough of despair, gone were the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. In their place was Wonder Boy– faster than a crying brother, more talkative than a locomotive, able to leap small sofas in a single bound!
Our living room was suddenly transformed into a wonderland of blankets, as the Master of Obnoxious Imaginative Play decided that it was CHRISTMAS and therefore we should make beds out of the couch and the recliner and go to sleep on them. Ryan frequently invents games where he and his brother do and say the same thing over and over and over again until I start to cry. Today it was the Christmas Bed Game, the steps of which are as follows: 1) drag blankets from the bedrooms and put them on the couch and recliner. 2) fight over blankets. 3) forcibly remove dog from blanket and receive firm reprimand from mother for pushing the dog. 4) turn off living room lights. 5) pretend to go to sleep. 6) pretend to wake up. 7) yell “Christmas Day! Christmas Day!” over and over while running around the house and pulling the blankets behind you. 9) (yes, I skipped step 8 because an 8 followed by a parenthese–is that the singular of parentheses? Maybe it’s parenthe, or parenth, or parenthesis–anyway, an 8 followed by one of those makes this: 8) and that’s not what I was going for). Repeat until Mommy cries, sends you to your bed, hides all the blankets in the attic, and sneaks chocolate from her secret stash. If you’re feeling really gutsy you can try it again after Mommy lets you out of your room, just don’t say anything about the chocolate on her breath.
All this happened before nine this morning. Some people don’t even get up till after nine in the morning.
They have no idea what they’re missing.