My son-in-law eats his cereal at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper. Our Seattle version of a winter cold-snap sends cold air down our chimney, so he's put on his hat and jacket before sitting down. My 31-year-old daughter – his wife – reads her e-mail at the table, sipping tea. She's five months pregnant and their baby girl goes about her own morning routine, safe inside the womb. The dogs, put outside less than two minutes ago, heave themselves at the back door asking to get back into the coziness. I stir my usual pot of oatmeal.
My husband makes sandwiches for the kids' lunch. The 15-year-old-whom-no-alarm-can-waken (are teens meant to hibernate?) has to leave the house in twenty minutes, but has yet to appear. I shout, "ARE YOU UP?" and get a muffled, "Yes" with false brightness and a feeble attempt to throw her voice down the stairs. The 13-year-old, so far showing no signs of
alarm clock deafness, is busy texting classmates for the morning social updates, changing outfits multiple times, hair washing, drying and brushing, mouth washing – an elaborate, carefully choreographed, daily dance of preparation.
It's a perfectly ordinary morning in our house. I imagine, reader, some variation on it playing out in your house most school days. But occasionally I like to take a meditative "snapshot" to see what's right in front of my eyes, and from this perspective I see that ordinary is most extraordinary. We have safe shelter, enough food, good health and each other nearby. The tragic news from Haiti is a razor-sharp reminder that "home" is a fragile thing. Our family, like most, has experienced enough tragedy to know that emotional upheavals, as well as earthquakes, come unannounced.
But here in our kitchen, on a Wednesday morning in late January, life is blessedly ordinary.