Blog post: Lightning McQueen’s Been In Solitary Confinement


Day 2,426 of Motherhood

It all started with the chocolate chip banana bread. As I loaded the lunch plates for the 5 year old and the 3 year old, they both were in the middle of throwing tantrums in their bedrooms. These particular tantrums had come about because… honestly, it’s been 5 hours. I don’t remember why they started. 

Baby River clung to my leg, wide eyes staring at the slices of apple I was placing on the paper plates. A few small pieces made their way into her mouth. 


After cutting up some avocado and apple pieces for the baby, I put her in the high chair and went back to finish lunch for everyone else. The yelling from the bedrooms had quieted down once the kids realized that I was not impressed by their dramatic show of anguish.

I walked into the dining room with the plates. Something slimy and cold squished up between my toes. I glanced down to see that the previously exalted avocado had lost favor with River sometime between last night and this morning. She was gleefully tossing them over the side of her highchair tray. When she saw my look of disgust, she let out the maniacal laugh that she reserved for such occasions.

Hearing a 14 month old laugh like a Disney villain is a special kind of creepy, but I was also proud of it. I’m definitely that kind of a mom. After removing the baby from her high chair and informing her that she was quite done eating with an attitude like that, I settled the older two at the table with their lunches.

After cleaning up the avocado pieces and scrubbing the green slime out of the carpet, I realized that at least this just further proved that we needed to get the white wool carpet out of the dining room. The lady who built the house, bless her heart, did not have small children.

I finished cleaning up in the kitchen, and heard the older two thunder off their chairs and into the family room for a rousing game of “tornado in Wisconsin”.

Back into the dining room. The baby looked up from her place by her sister’s abandoned chair, something brown and crumbly coating her face. The paper plate had been flipped over onto the chair and all over the floor. There were crumbs everywhere. Not just a cute little mouse sized crumb portion, but like a 3 year old had eaten half of their slice of banana bread and pulverized the rest with their fork.

My first thought was, there is an open bottle of wine in the fridge. I took a deep breath and got the vacuum. Since I was vacuuming the carpet, I might as well go all out. I moved all the dining room chairs and picked up the last few toys. Then I plugged in my incredible swivel head vacuum and went after the banana bread crumbs with the vengeance that only a sleep deprived mother of three can muster.

WHEEESSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHTTTTTTTTT. The vacuum made a high pitched shrieking noise. My children, who had come to investigate the “Mom Cleans the Carpet” live event, covered their ears and screamed and laughed.

I stubbornly placed a piece of packaging tape over the hole at the top of the vacuum where I thought the noise was coming from, mentally making a note to have Ben look at it when he got home. I bent down to plug in the hose attachment. It didn’t fit.

I peered inside the dark opening of the vacuum’s hose port and was greeted by the sight of something red that definitely did not belong there. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a small red car. Lightning McQueen was stuck in my vacuum cleaner. I glanced at my three children, and the grin from my 3 year old revealed the perpetrator of Lightning’s misfortunes.

My fingers were too large, but a needle nosed pliers from Daddy’s toolbox were sufficient for the minor surgical procedure it took to remove the car from the hose port. Lightning McQueen was free, dragging out of the dark tunnel an assortment of lint, crumbs, and who knows what else along with him.

I think I caught a glimmer of tears in his sticker eyes when I pulled him free. Who knows how long he’d been in there. I finished vacuuming the second pile of crumbs and glanced at my lukewarm lunch. The baby was reaching for the bowl, seconds away from tipping it off the table. I dropped the vacuum handle and lunged.