Sunday evening I chose relaxation (and a magazine) over preparation and was punished for it just 12 hours later when a holler roared over the streaming shower water as an alert that we hadn’t completed the school papers that were due that day.
Suddenly everything was abruptly propelled into action as I scrambled out and threw on clothes before offering an apologetic sigh to the tired image in the mirror. There was no time to blow dry or conceal. I didn’t rise early and do the things I aspire to do like jog or stretch. And I didn’t do the things I have to do like pack lunches and complete the papers.
The papers weren’t for anything big, just book orders and field trips. But it’s this little stuff that’s big stuff when you’re a kid and, therefore, becomes part of the very big job of parenthood. And it’s in this role that I was feeling increasingly defeated recently.
I hurried downstairs — to the papers, backpacks and breakfast. With few groceries and no time to preheat the oven, innovation was key.
I chose to broil frozen chicken nuggets for a fast, if not nutritious, meal. When I looked away then back, the nuggets were on fire! Another domestic defeat. I couldn’t even heat up frozen chicken nuggets…and for breakfast.
Smoke filled the kitchen, and the alarm sounded as nuggets were tossed into the sink. Two of the kids cried, but the oldest was obliviously enthralled with a book. When he finally noticed the emergency, I tried to hide my exasperation that he’s seemingly always lost in his own world.
Hurrying, I nudged him to the door and he made a clumsy move to avoid stepping on a beam of sunlight entering from a window. Through the smoke, the beam made floating dust flakes sparkle before landing on the spot on the floor that he had just stepped over. “That’s beautiful,” he remarked, as his youngest sister skipped into the sunbeam and twirled with arms in the air.
In that moment, domestic defeat was replaced with parental pride as I was reminded that if this was what being lost in your own world feels like, then perhaps we all need to get lost once in a while. Because instead of smoke lingering at our ceiling, I focused on the illuminated and smiling faces of my oldest and youngest children.
These radiating bookends of my motherhood were drawn to the light, seeing straight through the everyday little stuff and right into the big beautiful stuff. They knew how to soak up the sunshine and dance in a ray of light!
— Carissa Kapcar
Carissa Kapcar is a writer and happy, grateful, sometimes funny and often times tired mother of four (three living) who shuttles a minivan around the Chicago suburbs and clings to just enough irreverence to stay sane. Once upon a time she graduated from Miami University and worked in advertising on the East coast. These days she can be found in the school car pool line or blogging at Carissak.com or the Huffington Post where she shares “stories that reveal gratitude in the mess of everyday life.” Her work also has been featured on LeanIn.org and is a part of the book Return To Zero.