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The Keys to My Sanity are Right Where I Left Them

I thought it was brilliant. The contractor had just installed cubbies, one for each kid, in our mudroom. As he finished, I asked him for one last thing: a key plaque. With said plaque, I’d walk in the house, hang the keys, and never have to search frantically for them again.

It was a foolproof plan for only $7.99. But clearly I’m the fool.

My downward spiral began upon entry. I open the door, phone tucked neatly between my ear and shoulder, two bags of groceries in one hand, three in the other. The easiest item for this Sherpa to unload is the keys. And so they land wherever they land, apparently.

It’s not until I leave again that I realize Houston has a problem—a REALLY BIG problem—because juggling three kids to after-school activities leaves NO room for error. As always, I’m turning on the oven before frantically running out the door, screaming something about water bottles, phones, and pick-up times.

On my way out, I glance at the plaque—no keys there.

[Insert swear word du jour]

“Anyone see my keys?” I ask no one in particular. No acknowledgement.

Even the dog gives me the “Really—again?” look.

Ever helpful, the youngest child asks, “Well, where did you leave them?”

I give her the look.

“Sorry, I’m just trying to help,“ she says.

I retrace my steps and open the door to the garage.

Well, the car is there, so clearly I used them to drive home.

What did I bring in from the car? Hmmm—oh right, the groceries. I pull out the bags, thinking they could have slipped into one of them. No such luck. I remember that when I walked in the door, I checked the dryer for a uniform. I glance at the top of the dryer. Nope: just a stack of towels.

Oh wait, the house phone was ringing when I walked in! Triumphantly, I race to the land line. Nope. Seriously? My jacket—I had my jacket on when I walked in the door. The keys are in that pocket. But, wait, which coat? I check all of the pockets of every coat hanging on the coat hooks.

No dice, and now it’s turned into a literary as well as logistical melodrama. The missing keys are a metaphor for the sanity missing from my busy life. Sigh.

“You know we have to leave,” says the middle one, grumbling about the passing minutes. His punctuality does not help my stress level. I wander into the family room, remembering something I forgot to tell the child that I was momentarily (if I ever found my keys, that is) leaving behind.

I glance at the computer, and something catches my eye. It’s like that scene in the movie The Usual Suspects, when the US Customs guy starts piecing together Roger’s story. In a slideshow of still shots, I see myself dropping the groceries in the kitchen, stopping at the dryer, answering the phone, checking the computer for the name of the …

YES! There are my keys, right where I dropped them prior to Googling. I squeal in delight.

“Mom—you found them?” the little one pipes up from the kitchen. “Where were they?”

“Just like you said—right where I left them.”

Now, I can drive the kids around for the next three hours. What a relief.

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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