Math Science

When My Husband Lost Our Daughter and Isaac Newton Did My Dishes

February 6, 2017
Survivor Dishes

It was the Fourth of July. It was pouring rain. Which in reality was a blessing, given my middle child by two years and four months on the upper end and one minute on the bottom end hates fireworks. Hates them. When she was three we were at a large fireworks spectacle and we lost her. Actually, we did not lose her. Not that I am pointing any fingers….my husband lost her. “I sent her to you.” He said.

Oh really?! Did you think you should tell me you were sending her to me in this mass of children that appeared as if the pied piper was collecting them like beanie babies in the late 90’s? Perhaps a little eye contact over the folding chairs and across the darkness would have been helpful? Nada. Zilch. Zero.

Actually, I take 1% accountability, as I had not rehearsed with him that particular day one of the key laws of parenting: parent number 1 must somehow communicate to parent number 2 if parent number 1 is sending an offspring to parent number 2.  Just like I had not rehearsed with him how he should not go into the grocery store to buy peppermint patties and leave three children age four and under locked in the car in the parking lot salivating all over themselves at the hope of candy returning before someone noticed three young children sitting in a car unattended.

As an aside: that time, I almost ripped his arms off and beat him with them.  Of course I did not do this because I had not gone over the rule on that particular day that one should not leave young children in a car unattended while one runs into the market to purchase treats.  That, and it would have caused untold blood loss and also because, despite these examples, I actually married a pretty magnificent man.

I wandered off there for a minute.  Make sure you go over those rules with your hubs.

Anyway, the fireworks began right after he ‘sent’ her to me. Terrified, she ran at least 100 yards away. Towards the street. Possibly in the direction of some lurking child predator clad in red, white and blue. At least that is what went through my mind for the three to five minutes she was missing. Five minutes probably! Try sitting here with this post for three minutes, let alone five and do nothing.

Three minutes is a long time! Five is an eternity.

Well, she ran into the arms of some sweet teenage girl and my dear friend found her and ripped her from her arms. Literally. Pausing of course afterwards to spill gratitude.

Fast forward to exactly two years later and I am washing dishes (we have no dish washer), looking out the kitchen window at a deluge, silently feeling thankful for the weather and silently wishing for it to stop. My confused, yet peaceful mind then shattered and deafened in ten seconds.

We have close to zero cabinets and close to zero counter space and the real estate of the latter is mostly occupied by the coffee maker and the toaster I got for my husband a few years back…for Christmas. I’m really not that terrible of a gift-giver or person – I promise.

Naturally, given the lack of real estate, there is no home for plates, bowls, saucers, etc. in cabinets or on counters, which now doesn’t matter because we don’t have very many of those things anymore anyway.

The plates were peacefully residing on a shelf on the wall to my right as they had every day for the six months prior. I was gazing at the rain and washing dishes when I was jolted from my internal debacle of fireworks feelings by a deafening, shattering noise.

All of the plates, bowls, saucers fell onto the counter, the floor, and all over the kitchen. Shards of white dish fragments bounced off of me leaving Dracula-like drippings of blood on my legs.

The shelf was left tilted towards me and the counter dangling like a baby tooth.

As I reflected on this recently while putting survivor plates on the repaired shelf I could not help but think of Isaac Newton.

survivor dishes - Newton

The shelf started all of those dishes in motion. Then, gravity took over and shards of dishes attacked my legs like wolverines. Good old Isaac Newton and gravity and his laws of motion to blame just like my husband with my child’s ‘brief’ July 4th disappearance.

Plates did not fall on Isaac Newton, or my husband and thankfully not on any of my children. An apple didn’t fall on Newton’s head either. Supposedly, Newton began thinking about ‘the issue’ we know as gravity (thanks to him) when he watched apples fall from trees on his mother’s farm. He wondered if that same force was at work on the moon and why the apple did not go to the moon. Mr. Newton should have been in my kitchen to witness his theories and help clean up the dish carnage. I would have handed him an apple for his hard work.  Since he wasn’t there, the best I can do is to tell you about him and the laws he created that are still with us 300 years later.

Isaac Newton and His Three Laws of Motion

Isaac Newton lived from 1641 until 1727.  Newton was a mathematician physicist and established three laws of motion:

  1. “Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it.”
  2. “Force is equal to the change in momentum (mV) per change in time. For a constant mass, force equals mass times acceleration.”
  3. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

If your mind works like mine, you need a little more explanation in order to fully understand what they mean.  Here you go:

Law Number One

“Every object persists in its state of rest unless it is compelled to change the state by forces impressed on it.”

The first law is widely known as the definition of inertia. Galileo, a scientist in the 17th century developed the concept when experimenting with balls on a plane (not airplane of course…the simple machine plane). Newton built on Galileo’s thoughts about motion concluding that objects tend to keep doing whatever it is they are doing unless there is a force applied.

If there is no net force on an object then it will maintain a constant velocity (speed). If the velocity is zero then the object will stay at rest. If an external force is applied then velocity will change because of the force. Force is not needed to keep an object in motion. Something comes to a rest because of the presence of force, not the absence of force. In the absence of friction things would continue in motion forever. Ha! My plates would have visited your house before heading to your neighbors for left overs had they not met the force of my floor!

Law Number Two

“Force is equal to the change in momentum per change in time.  For a constant mass, force equals mass times acceleration.”

Newton’s second law of motion defines the relationship between acceleration force and mass. Mass is the quantity of matter in a body regardless of its volume or of any forces acting on it. The tendency of an object to resist changes varies with mass. A more massive object has a greater tendency to resist changes in its state of motion.  Simply put, a heavier object requires more force to move than a lighter object.  In mathematical terms, and as mentioned in the actual law, Force (F) equals Mass (M) times Acceleration (A).  F=MA.  The force is measured in ‘Newtons.’  So, if I am pushing the weighted boxes at the gym and they weigh 81.65(kg), at a rate of .05 meters per second per second (m/s/s) I am pushing with a force of 4.08 Newtons.  That does not sound very glamorous.

Law Number Three

“For every actionn there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Any time a force acts from one object to another, there is an equal force acting back on the original object.  As you sit and read this post, your bum is acting on your chair with force and the chair is acting on your bum with an equal force.  Another example:  a hovering helicopter is creating lift at the same rate that gravity is trying to pull it down.  The forces are equal, thus it is hovering.


One far-fetched hope of re-learning Newton’s Laws of Motion is that if I can understand them beyond what I have outlined here, perhaps then I can master a pull-up at the gym.  Surely, my inability to rattle physics and mathematics from the tip of my tongue is what is standing in my way of the elusive pull-up?  These laws dictate motion – such as my body moving up while I am dangling uncomfortably from a bar.  That must be it.

Unlike me, my husband can do a pull up.  Somebody send him a Twinkie.  He has informed me that the only book he kept from college was his Newtonian physics book.  It was his favorite.  See the correlation?!

Yet, this is the same man who left our offspring in the car while he ran into the grocery store to buy candy.

Journey on mamas!


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