There’s a fine line (and a jar of peanut butter) between saving the world, and nearly ending it

Busy MamaJuly 14, 2014 

First, let me offer my sincere apologies.

I’ve survived a few close calls of the world coming to an end as we know it, including Y2K, when many assumed that financial markets and, well, basically everything computerized, would crash because some systems weren’t programmed with a clock that would change from 1999 to 2000.

And then there was Dec. 21, 2012, which was the end of the Mayan calendar, and what many people believed was a prediction for the end of civilization. Instead of hiding out in a bunker, I went to karaoke that night with my sister, and we belted out several songs that made light of the occasion, such as “The Final Countdown” by Europe, “Armageddon It” by Def Leppard and “It’s the End of the World” by R.E.M. We figured if the world was going to end, we were going out in style like those musicians on the Titanic.

So when I got a text from my husband a few weeks ago, with the words, “omg, the world is coming to an end... we are out of peanut butter,” I realized that it was entirely my fault.

I had forgotten to pick up peanut butter at the store the night before. I don’t have a good excuse. I was careless. I didn’t realize the consequences of my actions. I’ve learned my lesson and have changed for the better, I promise.

But let me explain -- it’s the first time that I had ever had a parenting fail of that magnitude.

Oh, sure, there was Pajama Day 2010, which took months to recover from, because what kind of parent forgets about the most important day of the year for elementary school kids?

And then there was a fiasco in 2012, when I totally flaked on buying Valentine’s Day cards for my son’s preschool party. Fortunately, I was rescued by a generous friend who offered to pick some up and sign his name on them, since I was on my way to work.

But in our house, running out of peanut butter is like running out of air, water or toilet paper.

It’s the dip for our apples, the topping for our toast, the cure for our hiccups and, let’s face it, the reason big spoons were invented. Some families obsess about bacon or cheese; our family is fueled by peanut butter.

I texted my husband back, saying I’d pick some up from the store. But would I make it home in time? My sister understood the severity of the situation, and offered to bring over an emergency stash of almond butter (sadly, her daughter is allergic to peanuts) although nobody knew if that would help.

The only thing that remained was a plastic jar that had been meticulously scraped clean earlier in the day. At that point, our house had been out of peanut butter for about six hours, and it wasn’t a pretty sight, my husband reported. Hunger had set in, and everyone was starting to get grouchy. (Wait -- was my belly already starting to protrude from starvation? Never mind, I think I need to go on a diet.)

I tried to take comfort knowing that our family had survived other hard times, including a two-week power outage. We’ve made it without grocery staples in the past, such as milk, eggs and flour. Although “The Day without Syrup for the Pancakes” is not one of my favorite memories, at least we had peanut butter to use as a topping, and help us get through it.

What kind of mom lets her family suffer so? Would Child Protective Services launch an investigation? And were those regular storm clouds looming in the sky, or ones filled with frogs or locusts?

Grocery shopping for a family of five usually isn’t a quick process, but I picked up two large jars of peanut butter and tried to get out of the store as soon as possible.

After all, my focus was to get home in time to save my family and the world as we know it.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com @Lisa_Pemberton

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