Target, something completely untouched by the Disney marketing team, on my shoulder.
So that should partly explain why, as I reached into one of my favorite bags (the kind of Coach that has never been pulled by a talking train) to grab my ringing phone and instead found my fingers diving into a puddle of warm, sticky goo, I felt my blood begin to boil.
Given my many years of forensic fieldwork under the auspices of CSI: Toddler, I immediately determined the source of the goo to be orange marmalade. More specifically, it was clear that at least one of those little rectangular diner packets of marmalade had ruptured, forming a jam pool in which my wallet, phone, and keys were now taking a dip.
"I HATE ORANGE MARMALADE!!!" I screamed, to no one in particular, throwing the condiment-laden accessory across the room. "I HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT!!"
This may seem like an overreaction to a condiment, and let me assure you orange marmalade did not deserve it. While I may not be a huge fan of the stuff and prefer to throw away the peel as opposed to spreading it on my toast, orange marmalade is not exactly out to ruin my life.
"But Gido loves it," my 3-year-old reminded me, as he toddled upon the scene of my temper jam-trum.
Which is exactly how, as you may have wondered, the offensive spread ended up in my purse in the first place. You see, every week we take all 3 kids to church, and afterwards we reward ourselves for surviving the experience without committing any major sins by going out for brunch. And every week we sit at the same booth, in the same diner. And every time the kids see the packets of jam on the table they recall that I once told them that my dad (aka, Gido) loves orange marmalade. And every week, because they are sweet, thoughtful beings, they would each take a packet of marmalade to bring to Gido in the hospital. And every week, because they are children and I am their Sherpa, they eventually stick these packets of jam in my purse. And because my brain is, well, jammed full, we often forget to deliver the stuff so it accumulates in my bag. And apparently, my purse has a certain marmalade tolerance level, which was exceeded on this fateful day, resulting in the jamboree at the bottom of my bag.
"I help you clean it up?" the little voice asked.
I looked at him with my hand still covered in orange goo, unable to move. Tears started to roll down my face and for a long time, I just held him and cried. Not for the purse, or the jam, or the eventual dry cleaning bill. I cried for the messes that can't be cleaned, the problems I don't know how to solve, the loved ones who are ill, the sweet gestures of children, the innocence that eventually will be shattered. I cried for a long time.
And then I smiled.
Because this is our life.
It's sweet and it's sticky.
Sometimes it makes a big mess all over our favorite things.
But somehow we always manage to clean it up.
And along the way, we realize what our favorite things really are.