Late. Again.

Our kitchen is probably the most important space in our house. For the fridge, the pantry, and the missing Legos I shoved in a drawer. For the haphazard pile of mail on the counter, and the blue hydrangea in the hand painted jar on the windowsill. For the owl-shaped cookie jar filled with British chocolate, and the day’s newspapers and empty cereal boxes shoved into a Trader Joe’s brown paper bag to be recycled – in which I found the check for the fifth grade school trip and also the homework I thought was scratch paper.

And for the large, flat calendar that sits quietly on the counter in the corner.


Amid a tissue box, a tin of Sharpies, and a 13-year-old steadily growing bamboo plant, the calendar displays both the secular and Jewish months, national and religious holidays, and most importantly, where and when we all need to to be on a daily basis. My one and only crafty project, at the beginning of the month I sit with a different color pen for each of us and record all upcoming activities, lessons, appointments, parties and trips.

Without the calendar, we all have a pretty concrete sense of what is happening in our lives, but the visual representation of the day, the week, the month, laid out in pretty colors and organized by person brings necessary calm and order to a very noisy, chaotic kitchen. Somehow, if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening.

You would think that with my carefully crafted schedule laid out in red, blue, pink, orange and purple, that with this daily, colorful reminder of where, when and who, I would be able to get myself and my people where we need to be with minimal confusion and frenzy, and without frantic yells of, “Come on, we’re going to be late!” Every. Single. Time.

Or maybe you wouldn’t think that. But I would. I do. I think that it is a shame, a sad shame, that a person who used to leave home with plenty of time to drive an unfamiliar route and find a parking spot in a crowded Oakland neighborhood, who prided herself on punctuality and hardly ever kept someone waiting, even when there was traffic, is now always (and I mean always) five minutes late. On a good day.

“I think this is going to be our first fight,” says my dear, non-confrontational friend of 12 years, with undisguised disgust at having to wait for me. Again.

Running five minutes late I text my sister, as I spy the keys I couldn’t find still in the door. And by five minutes I mean at least 11 minutes, but I’m too ashamed to admit I’m only leaving the house now, at the time we agreed to meet.

I call the dentist on the way to my appointment. Tell my son he should walk home because I’m stuck in traffic. I’m late for the vet, the hairdresser, library duty, dinner. And I know it’s only a few minutes, and people are mostly forgiving and understanding (even my friend who is sick of waiting for me; we didn’t fight). I know that in reality the unpredictability of life creates loud disorder and mayhem out of even the most color-coded, organized moments.

But I hate that lately, I am always late. No matter what.

My kids pore over that all-important calendar in the kitchen every day. They delight in the colors, the visual simplicity, the predictable schedule, and mostly in knowing what’s going to happen next: later today, tomorrow, next weekend. One of their favorite days is the first of the month, because they get to rip off the month that was and see the uncluttered potential of the month ahead.

After two long winter weeks away from the scheduled days of the calendar, when we returned home on January 5 they went straight to the kitchen. They ignored the happy barking of Pretzel the dachshund, and clamored around the curling page of December.

“Mom, can we rip it?” Their hopeful faces turned to me. They were four days late already.

The answer left my lips before I even had time to think about it: “No! Just leave it for now. I’m not ready.”

Not ready. Not ready to record the everyday activities into the blank spaces of this month. Not quite ready to jump into January, even though it’s already started. Not ready to let go of 2014, just yet. To leave those moments: those wonderful, difficult, terrifying, incredible, saddest, happiest moments that I will never have again.

I left the kids staring longingly at the stained days of December, in the kitchen crowded with unopened mail and newspapers still reporting 2014, and slowly headed upstairs.

I hate leaving the moment I’m in. Whether it’s a book or the laundry or the conversation I’m having, the quiet of the car, the paragraph I’m writing, the hot shower, or brushing my daughter’s hair into a ponytail. I find it difficult to move smoothly onto the next thing. The next moment. So I linger in this one.

Just five more minutes.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “You should vote for me for president because…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and guest hosts Michelle from Crumpets and Bollocks and Anna from FitfunnerYou should vote for me for president of the Let’s Be Five Minutes Late Club, because I will never let you down! Even this post is almost five minutes late. 

About Last Night’s Leftovers


The silence wakes me.

Not a whisper. Not a murmur. No ever-growing feet pounding down the stairs. No 7am yells of “jerk, that’s mine.” No muffled electronic music from the Nintendo DS. What is it they play? Smash-something?

Just quiet.

The TV sits black and silent. The remote untouched since yesterday. Neat and aligned on the kitchen counter, right where I placed it before I went to bed last night. It’s not often I get to see it, let alone set it somewhere. It’s the hottest item in the house, the “merote.” Whoever holds it possesses those invincible powers of channel control. Powers not to be taken lightly. The fun teen mishaps on the Disney channel can ruin ones day if it’s the darkness of “Gotham” they desire.

So they hang on to that remote because really their happiness depends on it. Or they hide it amongst the stale chip crumbs and candy wrappers under the bouncy cushions of the sofa. And then pretend they don’t know where it is. So we’re stuck with Cartoon Network. Ninjago forever. There’s yelling. And wrestling. And my bedroom is directly above the playroom, so it’s not only Sensei Wu’s creepy Lego voice coloring my serene Saturday morning dreams, it’s also relentless cries of “Give it” punctured with an occasional “Ow” (is there anything more ear-shattering than the low foghorn of a newly-deepened teenage boy voice?). All before 7.09am. Most Saturdays.

But this morning all was still. The remote benignly in plain sight, powerless as it should be.

And I am up before 7.09am.

Even though there’s no yelling. No fighting. No noise. No extra-loud “Good morning, Mom” to retrieve the iPad in stealth. And definitely no wet kiss on my sleepy cheek.

We are half this week. One dad, two bigs away doing adventurous boy things: planes, trains, rugby and rain. One mom, two littles at home doing not that much: cousins, beach, classic movies like “Annie” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

The quiet is welcome. The kitchen stays clean. The laundry basket is barely full and there is no room for yesterday’s leftover pizza in the suddenly too full fridge. We never have leftovers. Nobody nags for a friend to come over or to go to Target or leaves wet towels on the carpet. Instead of no I say yes: to ice cream, to staying up late, to overpriced magnets at Fisherman’s Wharf. “You’re the best mommy ever,” they chirp with their arms around each other.

But we are half. And what I am is some kind of half-mommy. While less of them should mean more of me, we are incomplete. And so am I.

It is calm and neat and the washing machine is at rest. But the quiet is strange. Uncomfortable. This is not who we are, half of ourselves. Half the conversations, half the laughter, 50 per cent less awkward hugs and sloppy kisses, way less muddy clothes sweaty from intense hide-and-seek in the backyard. Too many leftovers.

I talk and write about my family chaos a lot. How I long for it to be a little quieter. Not so hectic. How I wish there were less groceries, less shoes, less dentist appointments and haircuts. More room, more time for thoughts and words and yes instead of no.

But that would make us not us.

The weak early morning sunrays reflect off the dull silver of the remote. It waits, untouched. When I open the fridge the pizza box slides out from its precarious spot, squeezed above the unopened gallons of milk. It lands on the floor with a loud thwack that echoes around the empty kitchen.

Only one more night of leftovers.