portrait of a morning. with children. and oatmeal.
this morning i am eating cold, glumpy oatmeal for breakfast. cold, glumpy, packaged oatmeal that has a kind of sad little puddle of melted ice right in the middle. i eat it with a small pink spoon that turns white if it's too hot. the oatmeal isn't meant to be mine. i do not put ice cubes in my oatmeal. i did not mean to have this for breakfast. but sometimes things like this happen.
my husband is reading the paper. he takes 13.8 minutes to make coffee. it has tasting notes. tsk tsk, he says, about The News. you should read this, he says. he sips his coffee.
i look up at him from the floor. i am on the floor because i am trying to wrangle three small children into clothing. it is not going well. i cannot remember where i put my coffee. it was too hot to drink around all this commotion. my children are always making commotion.
they are playing. they are running. they are telling me things. at the same time. they do not speak with indoor voices. they are feeling many things. they are laughing. they are crying. or making whining sounds. please do not talk in those whining voices i say. talk in happy voices i say.
who have i become?
where is my coffee?
last night the baby woke up. she has an ear infection so i can't just let her cry. also i can't just let her cry if she does not have an ear infection. when she woke up i looked down at the mat next to my bed. my son was there. some time between 10 pm and 4 am he wakes up and leaves his bed with the train sheets and comes to sleep on a mat with a blanket for the rest of the night. sometimes he needs water. or to be tucked in. sometimes he comes into our room with toys that he puts on my night table. when the baby woke up i went downstairs to nurse her and then my two year old woke up and asked if we could go upstairs. it's three am i told her. we do not wake up at three am. she does not know what i mean when i talk about ams and pms. when i finished nursing i took her to sleep with me on the bed with the train sheets. the mattress does not have a pillow top.
my husband hands me my coffee. he has small toothbrushes in his hand. toothbrushing and vitamin time, he says. the older ones run to him. i am still on the floor. some of the clothes are still on the floor.
the baby pulls up on my knee. she is smiling at me with her mouth open. it is a baby grin. i grin back. my two year old trummels by. trummel is not a word but it is what my two year old does. she kisses my shoulder. it is part of a game she is playing that i don't understand. but she kisses my shoulder and i understand that i love when she kisses me.
i have made a lunch. and put an ice pack in it and a note with a heart and a smiley face and a moon and a sun. i have packed a backpack with stars and constellations on it. i have packed snacks. so many snacks. and water bottles. i have packed diapers. two sizes of diapers. and wipes. i have sent three work emails. four if you count the one i sent at three am when the baby woke up.
i take a sip of my coffee.
my stomach growls.
my four year old makes a joke. a real joke. my husband and i look at each other with big eyes.
in seven minutes it will be time to leave. leaving always takes longer than it should. i am in pajamas. i haven't eaten breakfast. please do not look at my hair. i go to clear the table for the second time. the second round of breakfast. there is a bowl of oatmeal. it is cold and glumpy. it has melted ice puddled in it. in it there is a small pink spoon that turns white when it's hot.
i eat it all.
(i avoid the spot with the melted ice.)
i eat it standing over the sink.
it is delicious.
it is comforting.
it is exactly what i want to be eating.
then i do all the other things.
i often eat forgotten, rejected oatmeal for breakfast. most of the time it's cold. and that's okay. because oatmeal is one of the greatest, most wonderful foods of all time. All Time. it is simultaneously filling and restoring. luxurious and sturdy.
when i am feeling indulgent, i make salted oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. when i am feeling even more indulgent i make peanut butter oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and m&ms. monster cookies, they are called. i do not make them as well as the person who gave me the recipe. her name is ellen. i am not going to share her recipe but i know that The Internet can provide different versions of it. i am sure they are good, too.
when i am alone and i am not sitting on the floor, i make a bowl of oatmeal like this:
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
more salt than any oatmeal package suggests
two shakes of cinnamon
packet of stevia
3/4 cup water
stir. microwave. (mine takes 2 minutes on level 8/10. oatmeal can also be made on the stovetop, but then you will have to clean an extra dish.)
stir in a drop of strawberry jam and some chopped banana.