Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: When Joy Comes
By Rhonda Clark
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Trying to shake the nagging thought and wake up my body, I jumped in the shower. The warm water loosened my muscles and convinced me that—with a cup of coffee—I could endure the rest of the day. I finished my shower and stepped out to discover the towel rack was empty. Dripping wet, I tip-toed to the linen cabinet and found only four tiny washcloths occupied the space. A humph pushed past my pursed lips. Since the kids were up, I couldn't dash to the laundry room; I had to make due. I dried myself as much as possible with the four thirsty squares and dressed.
With my clothes stuck to my damp body, I left my bedroom and went on the hunt for coffee. Spying the half-empty pot my husband had left, I felt that all hope was not lost. I pulled a mug from the cupboard and grabbed the pot, but something wasn't quite right. I touched the glass carafe and discovered it was barely warm. A little sigh escaped me. With some interrogation uncovered the truth. My daughter needed to plug the toaster in at the expense of my morning jumpstart.
Needing a caffeine fix at any cost, I opted for a cola and a candy bar. I crammed the chocolate bar in my mouth and downed half of the pop. It was then that my son produced a two-week-old note from school. He was responsible for a snack today. I closed my eyes and cringed. While my mind comprehended the snack dilemma, I looked at the clock and realized we now had only fifteen minutes before we had to be out of the house.
In a whirlwind, I began barking high-pitched orders. My teen daughter whined about being rushed, while my son complained the milk tasted funny.
There was no time to fix the boy anything other than the cereal that was already in his bowl. I saw the chocolate cake on the counter and sliced him a slab; I handed him my partially empty soda can, too. He was happy.
I bundled up my sick preschooler and prepared her for travel, while the other two rushed their morning routine. With seconds to spare, everyone was in their respective spot in the minivan. I pushed my key into the ignition and attempted to crank the mom-mobile. The only sound was a click. My eyes closed, and I felt steam rush from my ears. This was the last thing I needed.
“It's okay, Mom,” my son tried to comfort me. “Joy comes this morning.”
I rolled my eyes and grumbled, "I hope she doesn't forget to mop the floors."
My ever-optimistic middle-schooler replied, "She never does."
As I tried to focus my foggy mind on what to do next, I saw Joy's car pull into the drive. Our maid and my hero had arrived.
The look at my face told Joy the morning hadn't started well. After giving her a condensed version of my woes, she volunteered to run the errand and take the kids to school while I tended to the ill one. When she returned, she found me sprawled on the sofa, wallowing in self-pity.
Her chipper smile and upbeat attitude made the gray cloud hanging over my head dissipate. She reminded me how none of us are perfect and that we can only do our best. Also, she reminded me how prayer makes things run smoother.
I defended myself by arguing that prayer wouldn't have solved the troubles I had already encountered so early in the day.
She was unyielding as she explained that prayer wasn't an instant fix, but a way to have comfort and peace in the midst of a storm.
Boy, did I feel stupid. Being a Christian writer by trade, this revelation should have been apparent. I gave her a sideways glance and a half smile. Joy is one wise woman, and she has a way of putting everything into perspective.
While she mopped the floor, my youngest and I enjoyed a much-needed nap.
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