|Image via Flickr cc|
The children were all handsome and blessed with quick wit and an appreciation of a good prank. No doubt, characteristics inherited from both the mother and father, but more from the mother. The children made the parents as happy as parents could be and there was no end to the joy that they brought into the lives of the mother and father.
The father took pride in the outward assurances of all the good he had brought to his family; a comfortable home, a dinner table always full of more food than his children could eat, a wife who was able to be home for their children if they needed it.
But the well-meaning woman, who adores their children more than she could ever find the words to express, would ponder the doings of the day; did she provide them with the stuff of a happy memory? Would they look back on life with her and smile?
She thinks about their days together and there is so much that tells her how she misses the mark that the other women she knows always seem to hit.
There was the Monday last June when she was to pick up her youngest from an early release of a class, only to forget and have one of the on-the-mark parents call her at home, to tell her they had her child with them, wondering where she was.
While out shopping one day, she finds a jacket that makes her think of her oldest son. Excitedly, she buys it for him and leaves it hanging on the coat hook near the back door. He sees it when he comes home and asks her, "Whose is that?" When she tells him through grinning teeth that it's his, he responds, "No it's not."
Driving home from a store that is unfamiliar to her, she is caught in a roundabout intersection and loops through it only to find herself thrown back into the parking lot from where she first entered. It takes her teen-age son sitting next to her, who is one-month-old in driver's license years, to talk her through and out of the roundabout the second time.
Trying to encourage her happy-to-stay-home middle child to be with others, she promises him that if he arranges a bike ride with friends, she'll take care of his chores for the day. His green eyes look at hers and they strike a deal. He comes home late in the day, spent, to find that his bedsheets haven't been changed, nor his laundry folded and put away, because she just forgot.
But one evening, everything felt in place. The house was caught up and there was space to breathe before dinner. She pulled everything together for the day, miraculously somehow. More than anything that night, she wanted to squeeze in one of summer's last walks. The woman and her three sons left, planning to be home in time for her husband's arrival, when they would all eat together.
The four of them walk quickly, each boy trying to make her laugh the loudest as they take turns presenting their "walk of the day." She stays back a bit, watching her loves from behind and listening to their knock knock jokes - smiling to herself, finally feeling like one of the women who always hits the target. They return home and the first one to enter the house is the youngest. She smells the smoke as soon as he opens the door.
As they were weaving their way around the neighborhood - she, giddy from a day without failing - the potatoes that she had forgotten to take out of an oven that she had forgotten to turn off, were turning cajun blackened instead of fluffy baked, from their second hour in hell's fires. She shouts orders like a seasoned captain of a pirate ship, "Open the doors! Get the overhead fan going! Slide the patio door over!" and her children take to the commands as if they're running gunpowder to the cannons.
After she has all hands on deck, she sits at the kitchen island and tries to not cry. But the disappointment, again, of just not being able to be what she feels these beautiful children deserve, becomes too much for her to hold in.
"I'm so sorry. I am so sorry. I wish I was like the moms your friends all have. I'm so sorry."
All three of her princes surround her and promise that it doesn't matter, it's only potatoes.
Her littlest one pushes his way in under the arms of the two oldest brothers. "Naaah," he says, his little head resting against her shoulder, "I like it this way. It's more fun."
*I had coffee Friday with a wonderful local blogger I've come to know, Jen, of tranquilamama, and she loved this story that I told her, about my week. I decided to share it with all of you today, hoping that if there's a woman out there reading this who thinks she's missing the target, that she sees she's actually nailing it, right on the head.