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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: Better Than Attila
By Patty Wysong


I really don't think Attila the Hun could've done a better job at pillaging my day than my family did. It started this morning with Allyssa.

“Mom, I need my uniform this afternoon but there's a stain on the front. I put it on the washer, could you wash it for me? And Mrs. Anderson is giving us extra credit for being there early to watch a film on driver's safety and I'm late, could you run me to school?”

Today I planned on cleaning and organizing the living room and dining room since those were the rooms that disintegrated when life got hectic. There were piles that were toppling, and my patience with them had run out a week ago. My schedule was painstakingly kept clear for today, and I planned on conquering the mess and then celebrating with a bubble bath—all before the kids got home from school. Running some laundry through would be no big deal.

“Ok, but next time you'll wear it with the stain if you leave if for the last minute.” I checked to see that she understood I meant what I said. She bobbed her head, repentantly. “Extra credit in Driver's Ed? I suppose it's worth it, let's go.” I grabbed my keys and we trotted out the door as I called for the other kids to finish eating.

Ten minutes later I returned and Bryce slid into the kitchen. “Hey Mom, today's my day to bring a snack for our Bible study group at lunch and we've had brownies for the past three weeks, think you could do cupcakes or something?”

“Today? Bryce, why didn't you remind me yesterday?” I asked, my patience slipping away just as surely as my coveted bubble bath reward was.

While Bryce was hem-hawing, my husband strolled into the kitchen for his last cup of coffee before leaving for work. “Hon, I need you to make some calls for me this morning.”

Being the home management expert that I am, I grabbed my ever-present to-do list off the fridge and jotted notes as he ticked off each call. “Mechanic, dentist and church. Got it. You want that with a cherry on top?” I meant it sarcastically, but I managed to say it sweetly, complete with a smile.

My darling husband got a wicked gleam in his eye as he looked me up and down. “That'd be real nice, Sweetie.”

I really wanted to growl, but instead I planted a kiss on him. “Your lunch is with your briefcase beside the door.”

Bryce plucked the list from my hand and scribbled “CUPCAKES 11:45!” He handed me my list and flashed his father's killer smile. “Thanks Mom. You're the greatest!” I rolled my eyes at him as he buzzed my cheek and fled before I could say no.

“Mom,” Callie wailed from the living room, “I need my permission slip signed so I can go on the field trip, but I can't find it!”

“Look on top of the pile on the coffee table.” I called as I added Allyssa's uniform to my rapidly growing list.

“It's not there, I looked.”

I sighed with exasperation as I plunked the list down and went to help Callie. “After I signed it, I put it on top of your math book. Where's your math?” I lifted the skirt of the couch and cautiously peered under, fearful of the mess I'd find. “Here it is, Callie. Hurry up, we've got to go.”

“Thanks, Mom.” She spun around and slammed into her dad. I saw it happen in slow motion, and saw all hopes of my bubble bath drain away as coffee coated the carpet. Instead of celebrating with a soak, I'd be slaving with the steam vac.

All the way home I wrestled with my attitude about my pillaged day. When I got home, I ignored the mess and took a fresh cup of coffee out to the sun room for a fifteen minutes of peace. My Bible was there, waiting for me, so I turned to today's chapter. “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox.”*

Ok, Lord, I get it. Kids are like oxen. I really wouldn't trade off the blessing they are, so that means I have to deal with the quirks of being a mom, even on days when I feel like I'm being drawn and quartered by Attila the Hun.

*Proverbs 14:4 NASB

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Sara Harricharan 05/01/08
Awww! That mom needs a nice bubble bath! I love the ending with the kids being 'oxen' though. That was cute. I do agree that she is much better than Atilla. Yes, very much so. ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/04/08
This was one of my favorites. I could see the whole family with their longsuffering, but loving, mother in their messy house.
Chely Roach05/05/08
This was SO entertaining. I loved the hubby's wicked gleam, the feared couch skirt, and the bubble baths that never come. What a picture of motherhood....
LauraLee Shaw05/06/08
“Thanks Mom. You're the greatest!” I rolled my eyes at him as he buzzed my cheek and fled before I could say no.
What a picture! Your plot built to the perfect amount of intensity letting out to the peaceful calm of the Word at the end. Just like motherhood. Love your phrases and descriptions of the storyline all throughout. Well done.
James Dixon05/06/08
Oh so familiar- except that I'm not a mother of course.

“Extra credit in Driver's Ed?" is a very regional expression- I think I know it means.

I think I now know more about how the other half feels too. Well done.

Peter Stone05/06/08
Your conclusion brings out a very good lesson that many would do well to meditate upon. Kids do create massive amounts of mess and work, but are well worth it.
Esther Gellert05/06/08
Ah.... you've done it again. ;^) Every time I read something you've written, I feel personally challenged.
Thanks for the reminder to watch my attitude when I feel like my family has stolen 'my' time.
Joy Faire Stewart05/06/08
Your writing is so real, I was viewing the scene! Love the humor and great last paragraph.
Joshua Janoski05/06/08
I loved the descriptions in this piece. I could picture the smiles of the father and son, and I saw the mom roll her eyes at them.

I think you described what mother's go through on a daily basis very well. This story reminded me of my own mom and how hard she works for our family. Men think they have it hard going to the office everyday, but in my opinion, mothers have just as hard of a job.

Great story! Wonderfully told. :)
Beth LaBuff 05/06/08
That's the kind of Mom I'd wish for every kid. :) I like her responses, contrasted with what how she actually felt. Great work. Is this story based on anyone's life? :)
Debbie Wistrom05/07/08
I really like her self-control. This was a wild ride, the dialog is perfect.

As the teenager buzzed her cheek, should it be bussed? I read bussed then realized what you'd written. I works well either way.
Loren T. Lowery05/07/08
I must confess, on a day like this, I'm glad I'm the husband and can slip out the door and off to work : )
This was that believable!
Dee Yoder 05/08/08
Oh-so-true! And how many moms have TRIED to get organized and had their honest attempts thwarted by their kids and hubby? Isn't that a good excuse for leaving all the clutter...we can just shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, I tried..." LOL. Believable and funny!
Laury Hubrich 05/08/08
Oh Peej! You described your day so well! Poor thing. Loving you lots and lots today and everyday:)