the ugly writers

Welcome to My Circus

I am at a loss for words. I didn't even know what to do first. Where I should start? I slept in today. Oh, a glorious extra hour. I have been so tired, not sleeping well and I was reveling last night at even the idea of a much needed, long sleep. I don't know what I was thinking. I am a mother of 5.

Welcome to My Circus is a short story written by Kelli J. Gavin and shared via The Ugly Writers under the theme Just Barely for the month of October 


Welcome to My Circus


I am at a loss for words. I didn’t even know what to do first. Where I should start? I slept in today. Oh, a glorious extra hour. I have been so tired, not sleeping well and I was reveling last night at even the idea of a much needed, long sleep. I don’t know what I was thinking. I am a mother of 5. Let me repeat that. 5 kids. Our house is what I like to refer to as organized chaos.

More of a focus on chaos than organized. The hour of extra sleep that I was so looking forward to, became something I would regret, the moment I heard the crash at 7:32 a.m.. And when I say crash, I mean more like the sound of an explosion. Not a single sound that only lasts a moment. More of a cacophony of echoed crashing that never seemed to end. I bolted upright in bed. What was that?! Was I dreaming or did I actually hear a disaster happening just one floor below my bedroom? I swung my legs over the side of the bed and listened. And sure enough, the screaming and crying started immediately.

“MOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!” Etna, my oldest had this way of calling me when there was a real problem. Almost as if the elongation and volume of MOM was the indicator to me that there was really a serious problem on the main floor rather than just calling me because someone was lazy and wanted a glass of water, with ice cubes, crushed, not whole.

I grabbed my robe as my see through holey night gown was such a painful sight, that my kids would easily find yet another thing to make fun of. I quickly opened the bedroom door, only to find the screaming and crying and one of my kids losing their mind, only increase in volume. Did they hear me open the door and chose to make it worse than it already was? I descended the stairs maybe only hitting one or two of the stairs as I had become an expert and scaling whole flights when everything seemed to fall apart quickly.

I rounded the corner and wished I was still in bed. The baby sat painting the wood floor with the honey that had been spilled when the plastic container hit the floor. My 5 year old sat next to the baby eating raisins and offering them to the baby. My 8 year old was sitting in a pile on the floor holding his ankle like death was pending. And then I saw the mess. Or the war zone as I will now refer to it from this day forward. From what I can deduce, my 8 year old attempted to climb the shelves in the pantry to reach the upper cabinet where the kid sugar cereals reside. Said 8 year old, almost 9, had failed to realize that the shelves would never hold him and decided climbing the shelves rather than locating a chair was the best means of acquiring said kid sugar cereal. When the five shelves crashed down to the floor, the contents they held followed, and my eight year old fell to the floor screaming. My 10 year old was still sitting in front of the TV in the living room completely oblivious of the chaos that surrounded her. And Etna. Sweet, 14 year old Etna, stood next to the kitchen sink crying her eyes out in a state of disbelief at what just happened while she was in charge of her siblings.

But was Etna really in shock? Because let’s face it. This crap happened all the time at our house. Hands stuck in mouse traps, dog poop on the walls, chocolate syrup squeezed on couch cushions. Etna was crying because she knew I would need her help cleaning up the mess. Everyone stopped crying when they realized I was in the room. I grabbed the baby and handed her to Etna. I told her to strip the baby and give her a bath in the kitchen sink. I washed my 5 year old’s hands and sent him to watch TV with the 10 year old. I met eyes with my 8 year old and knew right away that he was okay. Maybe a bruise or minor sprain, but we weren’t dealing with gushing blood or protruding bones. I wiped his tears, kissed him on top of his head and picked him up off the floor from his messy food pile. Wiping cracker crumbs off of his pants, I removed a stray crouton or two from his toes. I told him no more gymnastics in the kitchen, to always locate a chair or ask for help. He smiled at me, I ushered him into the
living room with an ice pack from the freezer for his ankle to also watch TV.

Leaning into Etna as she thoroughly washed the baby in the sink, I kissed her shoulder. What would I do without this precious girl, my first born? My helper, my sweet girl. “Thank you, Etna.”

“Mom, I am sorry, you didn’t get to sleep in. I… I tried.” Etna apologized.

“Et, it is okay. You know your brother. He is my climber. What can I say? And a hungry climber.”  I took the baby and dried her thoroughly with a clean towel from the drawer, wrangled a new diaper onto her and placed her in the high chair. Etna quickly followed behind with Cheerios in hand and placed them on the tray.

“Come and eat!” Etna shouted as she pulled bowls from the cabinet and milk from the fridge. Her long arms easily grabbed three of the desired kid sugar cereals from the upper cabinet so that each child would be able to choose their favorite.

Children being fed, I started to tackle the mess of all of our pantry food lying on the kitchen floor. “Alexa. Play violin music.” We needed some calm to be added to our chaos.

No, I didn’t get to sleep in, but had a very successful purge of all of the shelf stable food and now my floors are super clean from sweeping, scrubbing and mopping. So there’s that. Maybe tomorrow the desired and elusive sleep will be had. But until then, I still need to figure out clothing for my brood and activities for this hot day.

These are my monkeys. Welcome to my circus.


Author’s Note: Short story entry is purely fictional

Give some love to Kelli J. Gavin by visiting her site here or by reading her previous entries at The Ugly Writers:

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Kelli J Gavin

Kelli J Gavin of Carver, Minnesota is a Writer, Editor, Blogger and Professional Organizer. With over 400 short stories and poems published and posted online, her work can be found with Clarendon House Publications, Sweetycat Press, 300 South Media Group Linden Books, The Ugly Writers, Zombie Pirates Publishing, Setu, The Story Pub, Cut 19, Otherwise Engaged, Flora Fiction, Margins Magazine, The Basil O’Flaherty, The Rye Whiskey Review, Some Good News, Sweatpants and Coffee, and Southwest Media among many others. Kelli’s first two books were released in 2019 (“I Regret Nothing- A Collection of Poetry and Prose” and “My Name is Zach- A Teenage Perspective on Autism”). She has co-authored over 30 anthologies.
@KelliJGavin on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
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