Latch-key kids have two parents that work in jobs for actual paychecks. These kids come home after a long day at school and let themselves into an empty house.
There are no warm cookies and mommy hugs waiting for them.
Who helps them with their homework?
Who do they call if they hear a spooky noise upstairs?
Who do they tell about the mean girl at recess?
As a child I felt sorry for my latch-key friends, so when I went to work full time I had an automatic pity for my own high school boys…the ones with sad little faces who got the fuzzy end of the lollypop because certainly their elder siblings had a mother who loved them…
I let myself into an empty house after a long day at work. There were no warm cookies or kid hugs waiting for me. A faint light from the kitchen was the only thing keeping dusk at bay through windows that hadn’t been cleaned in forever.
What was that noise?
I held my purse at the ready and came around a corner to find a kitchen in the throes of pizza agony.
My neglected CPS children had come home, raided the fridge, made a frozen pizza, an eight-pack of hotdogs, a couple of protein shakes. A banana peel and dirty socks on the table stared me down.
“Kids?” I called out.
“We’re in the den doing homework!”
That’s code for “We’re playing video games because we’re pretty sure you won’t come all the way in here to investigate.”
And they’d be right.
“Didn’t you miss me at all?”
Nothing but chuckles drifted down the hall.
I added my pile of debris to the kitchen counter: four or five dirty mason jars.
Surprisingly, this was a comfort.
When I began working full time, questions about 401Ks and how was I supposed to make dinners paled in comparison to the tea question.
Even the Queen Mum stops ruling the world at Tea Time.
My new job, not so much.
The challenge: make a portable tea party, ready at the snap of a finger but of a quality that will conjure up warm cookies and kid cuddles for a latch-key mom.
Three generous mugs of tea during a ten-hour day, two minutes to make a cup on the fly, and containers that are leak-proof, microwavable, and do not taste of metal, silicone or paper.
There has to be enough that, should I choose (and I do) to not wash a single dish during the week, there are still clean ones handy.
As a matter of fact, whatever it is had better darn well be disposable if necessary.
Enter the mason jar.
I brew three pint jars at home, add just the right bit of sugar, and pack them into my bag. I fill another jar with 2% and add it to the pile. I pull jars from the office fridge during the day and keep right on moving.
And all day long, I get teased.
Everyone else walks by with adorable mugs or manly stainless steel. I creep out of the lunchroom with my jar of moonshine and within two steps someone wants to know what I’m having because it looks sure enough suspicious.
Now mason jars, in all their crafty glory, are supposed to make even weddings look attractive. People put Christmas gifts into them for crying out loud.
Why does my jar of tea look so much like a lab sample?
Once again, practicality wins over style and even my own dignity, because they get the job done. My hands are toasty and every sip makes me smile.
They work so well that I’ve started throwing other things into them.
This is homemade chicken/rice soup and the other is my morning oatmeal, made up fresh with brown sugar and cinnamon and ready to snack on at my 6:30 in the am desk.
Things aren’t always what you expect them to be, but mason jars are pretty transparent.
Things are different now, but they are also a curiosity.
Looking at life through the bottoms of these jars, my job becomes a swirling kaleidoscope, my home appears comfortable despite its residual mess, and the bottom of my cup isn’t empty, it runs over with new possibilities every day.