Saturday Morning Fever with the Family

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The Day Gets Crazier

7:35 a.m. Sam stumbles into the kitchen, scowling, to find me standing on a chair in my bathrobe trying to turn off the bleating smoke alarm. "Who set the toaster on fire?" he shouts. I've detached the device from the ceiling, but I can't disengage the battery. I shove the whole thing under my arm, attempting to smother it with my sleeve. Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! goes my armpit.

"Mom, give me that," Sam says, expertly popping the battery out. (It's not even 8 a.m., and the score is already Teenager: 1, Mom: 0.) "Did you save me any eggs?" "We only had one egg," Joe says, "and it burned up while we were trying to put out the fire in the toaster."

"There was no fire!" Henry yells.

7:41 a.m. Haywood walks in carrying groceries. "Who wants eggs?" he asks. Then, sniffing: "Who set the toaster on fire?"

9:20 a.m. Everyone's eaten, and things are settling down. In the family room, Sam is engaged in an intense round of instant messaging with 43 people in exchanges that go like this: "cnt tlk nw, my parnts r watchn & wnt me 2 go strt my h/w, lik i'll rly do dat on s@rda! lol." Henry and Joe are building spaceships out of Lego bricks. Haywood and I have brewed another pot of coffee. Here's our chance for an actual adult conversation.

9:25 a.m. Haywood is heading into the living room with two steaming mugs, when our 20-pound mutt, Betty, dashes in with a dead chipmunk in her mouth. Our 70-pound mutt, Clark, is close on her heels. By the time they complete their circuit of our tiny living room, Haywood is wearing his coffee and mine is running down the back of our leather sofa.

9:26 a.m. The boys arrive, drawn inexorably by the sound of their father shouting words that they have been sternly forbidden to use themselves.

10:10 a.m. Clark and Betty, still damp with coffee and now banished to the yard, circle a tree trunk and bark ferociously into the bare branches. About 30 feet up, a kitten clings frantically to a limb. All three of my sons instantly volunteer to rescue her -- "We can climb that high without falling, Mom!" they swear -- but I have a better idea. Or what I think is a better idea. It turns out the Nashville Fire Department no longer retrieves cats from trees. When you call to ask, they laugh at you.

10:32 a.m. Back in the kitchen, I remember it's time to give the dogs their heartworm pills. Betty swallows hers -- and then snatches Clark's pill right out of his mouth. At four times the recommended dose for her size, Betty is now at risk of OD'ing. "Grab her!" Henry and I scream as she dashes through Joe's legs and bounds into the family room.

"Huh?" Joe asks.

"Grab Betty and stick your finger down her throat!"

Joe stares at me. "Stick my finger down her what?"

10:47 a.m. I consider the pile of pink, Heartgard-tinged dog vomit on my carpet while my children lavishly praise Betty for not dying of a drug overdose. Fifteen years ago I wasn't even awake by this time on Saturday. But as I look at my jubilant boys, hugging each other and their dog, it suddenly hits me: The measure of a successful Saturday isn't how late I get to sleep in the arms of my true love. It's calling the fire department about a kitten and not a conflagration; it's being married to an adorable man who fetches eggs instead of playing golf; it's waking up to a whole houseful of dear, beloved faces. And I wouldn't go back for all the unspilled coffee in South America.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, February 2007.


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