There was a time when I wondered if our floors would ever be free of cheerios. With two children under the age of three who lived on cheerios and frozen peas, I couldn’t walk across the kitchen floor without having at least one cheerio stick to my socks.
It’s 8:27 am. Though we’ve just brushed our teeth after breakfast, my two-year-old daughter is begging for a snack. My left arm is holding our nursing son, and my right hand is holding the phone to my ear.
I gesture with my elbow for her to find her own snack. Reaching for the family-size box of cheerios on the counter, I consider that it would be like me pulling a suitcase off a head-high retaining wall. I confirm the appointment and hang up, but I don’t interfere with her snack-pouring. I wait, watch, anticipating. Sure enough, a misplaced elbow sends the bowl off the counter, and the cheerios scatter across the floor like spooked sheep. I sigh.
I start to grumble, annoyed at the cheerios that will soon be crushed into the floor. Then I stop as I remember a friend whose baby died to SIDS. Chastising myself, I choose to be grateful that my children are with me, healthy and happy. The mess can wait, so I sit down and gaze into my son’s eyes as he nurses. How fleeting these moments are.
“Daddy’s home!” our now five- and three-year-olds call as my husband walks in, carrying a grocery bag. Peeking in, I’m relieved to see more yogurt and baby carrots. We seem to always be out of those favorites.
Later I’m sweeping the kitchen and something bounces across the floor. I sweep it back toward the dustpan, and am surprised to find myself staring at a bead. I clearly remember when my daughter was working on a necklace yesterday and dropped the string, sending beads in every direction. What startles me is that I don’t clearly remember the last time I stepped on a cheerio. I add the bead to a growing collection of “found” beads on the counter. These neon pony beads are our new cheerios.
There is a new baby now, 3 months old, and moments like these still unveil a hint of lingering baby blues. All these milestones bring with them bittersweet emotion. I try not to be angry when I step on a stray Lego or bead; I remind myself of the blessing that the children are here, healthy and happy.
The cheerios are gone; she graduated from spilling cereal to making beaded jewelry. Soon I will wonder if our carpet will ever again not be the home to stray beads. And then one day, I’ll find myself staring at the next obsession, wondering when the beads disappeared without my immediate noticing. How fleeting these moments are.
*I wrote this essay in 2017, and even in the course of these whopping two years, several stages have come and gone. Even though this story isn’t current with my family, the lesson holds true and I hope you enjoy it.