I was stuck.
Stuck at home with kids in quarantine and stuck on what to write for this column.
I had a half-dozen half-baked ideas, but nothing had enough creative gas to get to the publishable finish line. The previous paragraphs would fall into literary limbo each time my attention turned to another potential topic.
Like many working parents, it seemed I was always doing something that needed immediate attention — snacks, crafts, emails, virtual meetings, timesheets, tidying up, etc. And when the dust would settle at the end of the day, I was always in the same spot staring at a mess of misfit words and a blank page to start again tomorrow.
Then it dawned on me. I’m living in a children’s book. One of my favorite children’s books, actually — If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Lauren Numeroff — which I’ve read countless times as a child and now to my children.
So, I wrote this piece for all the people who accomplish a dizzying array of tasks and activities each day, only to feel like they’re right back where they started.
I hope it brings a smile to your face and the comfort of knowing that you’re not alone.
If you give a mom some laundry,
She’ll take it right to the washing machine.
On the way, she’ll see an overturned sippy cup leaking on the floor.
So she’ll grab a paper towel to wipe it up.
Seeing the milk will remind her it’s snack time for her toddlers, so she’ll cut up some apples and spoon out some peanut butter.
When she opens the dishwasher to put the used utensils inside, she’ll realize the dishwasher is still full of clean dishes. So she’ll put them away.
Opening the cabinet, she’ll notice that the hinge is a bit wobbly. So she’ll rifle through the junk drawer to find the right-size Allen wrench.
Inside the junk drawer, she’ll see an old birthday card and remember she never sent out thank-you notes.
So she’ll grab a pen and paper.
When her kids see her writing, they’ll ask to draw something, too.
So she’ll get out stickers, crayons and construction paper.
While hanging up the artwork on the fridge, she’ll notice the sticky handprints covering the stainless-steel door.
So she’ll search for the chamois under the sink.
Unclipping the child lock, she’ll discover the dinosaur toy that’s been missing for a few days.
When she returns it to the toy box, she’ll find a stray sock.
The sock reminds her that she was supposed to be doing a load of laundry, so she tracks down the abandoned basket and takes it to the laundry room.
When she opens the washing machine door, she’ll be hit with the scent of musty clothes.
She’ll realize the last set of laundry never made it to the dryer.
So she’ll pour in more detergent and run the wash cycle again.
And chances are, if you give a mom some laundry…
She’s going to get sidetracked by life and forget to move the wet clothes over to the dryer until the very moment she settles into bed.
Bree Watson ’04 is senior copywriter with UCF’s Communications and Marketing team. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UCF Forum is a weekly series of opinion columns from faculty, staff and students who serve on a panel for a year. A new column is posted each Wednesday on UCF Today and then broadcast on WUCF-FM (89.9) between 7:50 and 8 a.m. Sunday. Opinions expressed are those of the columnists, and are not necessarily shared by the University of Central Florida.
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