This morning was one of those mornings. I woke up with the kind of headache that’s just annoying enough to keep me slightly on edge. I went through the usual routine – dropped the kids off at school and then started the day’s work.
But my to-do list kept getting longer. And the caffeine and ibuprofen I swallowed at breakfast didn’t shake the headache. There were so many emails with so many questions and deadlines, and I had nothing – no answers, no completed tasks.
It was the kind of morning that makes you want to crawl under the bed and hide from the world. Instead, I did the next best thing and went to lunch.
During the drive to our favorite sandwich shop, I wished aloud for the soup of the day to be chicken and wild rice. That one is my favorite because it reminds me of a bowl of soup I had the last time we were in Minnesota. The kids were taking a class to learn how to snowboard that day, and I was watching from the ski lodge restaurant. A waitress brought over a steaming bowl of creamy soup that tasted like love in a bowl. It was the perfect way to pass the time while watching the snow and my children fall down a hill.
So today when Tom and I got to the front of the line at the sandwich shop, I looked for the familiar “soup of the day” sign but it was gone. I asked anyway, just in case. The bearded barista glanced behind him and said, “I think we have a bowl or two left of the chicken and wild rice soup.”
“Yes!” I said too enthusiastically. “I’ll have that.” I beamed as I carried my bowl from the counter to the table, encouraged that maybe my day was turning around. Halfway to the bottom of the bowl, I felt decidedly better – as if lunch had warmed me out of a rotten mood. I went back to work and faced the empty page with newfound hope and a full stomach.
That soup salvation made me grateful that at least one of our three kids shows some real talent in the kitchen. When our middle kid, Jack, was only 7-years-old, he marched into the room and announced that he’d decided what he’d be when he grew up: “You know that guy on the cooking show on TV?” he asked. “The one who eats the cupcakes and then says which one is the best? I’ll do that job.”
I remember being shocked at his specificity. I’d been expecting something more general like fireman or race car driver. “You want to be a cupcake judge?” I asked.
“I think the cupcake judge is a chef,” I pointed out. “That’s why they asked him to judge the cupcakes.”
He thought for a moment and then nodded his head. “Then I’ll be a chef and a cupcake judge.”
Kids usually grow in and out of career dreams at least a dozen times as they get older, but even six years later, Jack, who’s now 13, still says he’s headed toward cooking school one day and perhaps his own diner where he’ll serve all his favorite foods. Last summer, he took a cooking course and even won a class contest for “best cupcake.”
Tonight, as he headed off to bed, I asked Jack if he’d also serve chicken and wild rice soup at his future restaurant and reserve a booth in the back just for his creaky old mom and dad. He smiled and said he would.
It’s good to have kids with big dreams. And it’s even better if they can save a bad day with a great bowl of soup (and a cupcake for dessert).
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.