The missing keys: One of "those" mornings

By Meg Duncan (originally published in Hannibal Magazine April 2016 edition)

It was Monday morning go-time.

When unfinished homework must be shoved into the book bag, the shoe must be found, and the toothbrush must be put down.

“It is time to GO!” I hollered up the staircase while rifling through my purse. “Come on! Right now!”

As I yelled orders, my hand moved around in my purse. When the kids reached the bottom of the stairs, I was checking my pockets. While they tied their shoes, I was throwing couch pillows. By the time they grabbed their coats off the rack, I was in the corner muttering to myself and taking deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth.

“Mom, are you counting to ten?” The oldest one asked and then looked at his little brother. “It’s one of those mornings.”

Those mornings happen far too often as we search for left socks, pull missing homework from between couch cushions and, as I did today, ransack the house for my car keys.

They were nowhere - just nowhere. The kids were going to be late for school, and I was going to be late for my meeting. After I griped at the kids all morning for moving like there were in a molasses vat, here I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown that we didn’t have time for.

Interrupting my succession of doom-filled thoughts was my six-year old’s singsong voice.

“Mommy - I have a secret.”

These are dreaded words. From frogs in the bathtub to food experiments under the couch, his secrets usually require me to chase something around the house or hold my nose and scrub.

I bent down to his level and cupped my hands under his chin.

“Do you know something about my keys.”

He giggled. “We hid them.”

To follow was the sordid story of stolen keys, in which he and his cousin - his favorite trouble making companion - hid them in a special place and were required under some kind of six-year-old oath to not reveal.

So, as would any other loving mother, I threatened the life out of him until he finally broke. My fist slammed on the table.

“For love of your tablet, man - tell me what you know!”

He led me to the self-standing globe in the corner, and to my amazement, he flipped over the top of it. I swear a bright light shot to the ceiling serenaded by the hallelujah-angel chorus.

There - at the center of the Earth - gleamed my missing keys atop a stash of chocolate chip granola bars.

Momentarily pausing to count the months since I’ve bought granola bars, I grabbed the keys and held them up i celebration of a day saved.

The boys arrived to school with about one minute spare, and I was able to slide into my meeting with little to no harm done - except I wonder if those mornings do cause harm.

Future morning memories will include mommy crying over spilled milk, sticking a book bag on the dog while shoving into a seat belt, and taking down coffee shots like her life depended on it - because it does.

Is this okay?

I don’t know.

Though I feel bad about the stress filled way we often start our days, they don’t seem to remember them at all. Each afternoon they burst through the door screaming my name, with hugs to give and stories to tell, as if no one was screaming for socks only hours ago.

I just hope in the long run they will remember our mornings as great, and sometimes frustrating, little adventures.

Especially that one time we traveled all the way to the center of the earth to find the missing keys.

Meg DuncanComment