This week friends sent us a care package that contained bakery bread, brownies, snack foods, cookies, and coffee cake. Most importantly, it was a big box of understanding and compassion. Though I still haven’t gotten around to putting it in a card, the gift inspired an immense “thank you” and gratitude for my friends. I have dear friends, which I bask in the glow of regularly at times like these. Receiving sour cream and cardamom coffee cake in the mail the afternoon before the first day of summer vacation felt like I was being offered a deep breath; no thinking, no prep, no dish washing; breakfast, day 1, had arrived. I slept well, secure in the future success of a morning made easy.
At 8am, I heated water. So many of the best things in life start with boiling water. I set out plates and napkins. I hummed. The kids asked for tea (adorable.) We prepped our first-ever tea party. Sun shined through the windows. I put on classical music. We beamed. See photo.
I could leave it at that. I could post this photo to facebook and other parents would “like” it with a little chagrin. I could fool you all, like I fooled myself for the hours between the arrival of the box of peace, and approximately 7 seconds after the slicing of the small miracle of walnuts, brown sugar and white flower. But here’s the truth; miracles don’t come in boxes.
I snapped the photo and before I sat down they skipped their forks and dove into their slices of cake. Crumbs flew. Their tea was “watery.” I went for honey. I swirled it into their cups. I sat down and took a bite. The cake was warm and delicious. The tea was “too hot” so I went for ice cubes. A teacup flew. Upon my return one child was playing games on my phone (do I have games on my phone?) and another was crawling across the table to him. The 3rd had evaporated. I swept up the shattered teacup. I said nice things like “its just a thing” and “I’m glad everyone is ok.” I removed the child from the table lest he flew as well. I took a 2nd bite; cold. I warmed my tea. I smelled dirty diaper. Diaper sequence. I re-warmed tea. Chase sequence. I re-warmed tea again. Freaky mom sequence. Children sit on bench in shock while mom tries one last time to consume re-warmed coffee cake and tea. Dog throws up.
The reason my friends sent the care package is because I have been devoting lots of time and energy to my mom, her recovery, and my feelings about her stroke this month. They wanted to make life a little easier for us, and it absolutely brings a little joy everyday it lasts. Our 15 year-old dog is also not doing so hot (see next post). The truth is I am sad, I am tired, I am irritable, and I am behind. I am also grateful. I’m grateful I have an amazing mom, even though it’s hard to take care of her now. I’m grateful I found an amazing family pet at a farmer’s market when I was a single girl. I’m grateful for my supportive friends and family. I am grateful that I don’t remember the chase sequence, or the freaky mom sequence from my childhood, though I’m sure it happened. In the end, or the long progression of ends and beginnings and the forging of memories, we filter. For the rest, there’s therapy, nostalgia and some good laughs.
I think back to the photo; the one I shot before things fell apart. Perhaps my kids will remember the 7-second tea party like it lasted for hours. They certainly will not remember I never actually drank my tea. Hopefully they remember I had enough sense of humor to document our entropy, broken teacup included. And if I can look back at that morning and say to myself, “I am a good mom, too” perhaps miracles do come in cardboard boxes.