“Hey guys! I’m home!”
I kick off my Dr. Scholl’s flats and plop onto the loveseat. If I reach for the hem of my slacks and hoist my ankle up onto my other knee, I can cross my legs. The girth of my middle is like an inner-tube as I struggle to reach it, but eventually I get there.
“Hey Ma,” the mature voice of my oldest daughter bellows down the hallway. She follows it. “I need twenty bucks for a yearbook.”
“You started Junior High like, yesterday. It’s already time for yearbooks?”
“Yea,” she rolls her eyes. “Can Sam come over tonight? We need to study for the Social Studies benchmark.”
“Did you clean your room?”
“Uggh!” She turns on her heel and stomps out of the room.
“I never said no!” I shout after her as I go to grab myself a Tums from the cabinet.
She doesn’t respond.
“Hi Mom!” My younger daughter comes leaping in, never missing a beat of her perpetual dance rehearsal. “I need to hand in the check for my NYSSMA solo to my cello teacher. You forgot to leave me one.”
“Oh God, I’m sorry Boo.”
“It’s ok, but I’ve asked you like, a bajillion times.”
“I know baby, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I have such a mental block.”
“Don’t you work in the office that organizes the NYSSMA Festival?”
“You have to rub it in?”
“Sorry. Please just don’t forget again.”
“You got it.”
I have to pull out the bigger bottles of chewable calcium+D, probiotics, and anti-inflammatories to get to the tums, but eventually I reach them. As I revel in the chalky relief, I feel my eyelids start to droop. I still have to take care of the dishes, laundry, and dinner — maybe a late-afternoon cup of coffee is in order.
“Mommy you’re home!” I hear my son squeal in his cutest fake-baby-voice as his big-boy body barrels into the room for an embrace.
“My boy! How was your day?”
“Eh. It was long and boring, but I’m building a new roller coaster in my Minecraft world. How was your day?”
“Ugh, baby boy, I don’t even know where to start. My ankles are all swollen. I can’t sit too long without my upper back going. If I stand too long my lower back goes. I don’t know what…” I trail off as I notice an absent glaze settling in to find its home on his handsome young face. He checks out so quickly that I can practically read his inner-monologue. “You know what? My day was long and boring too. That roller-coaster sounds like some fun. Can I see?”
“I should be done with it soon. I’ll tell you when so you can come see it. What’s for dinner?”
“That’s a great question. I took out chicken to defrost, but I can’t remember how I planned on preparing it.”
“Can I just have ramen noodle? I hate chicken.”
“You don’t even know what I’m going to do to it yet. Ramen is just chicken flavored salt. Have some real food.”
“Fine. I’m gonna go finish my rollercoaster.”
“Ok, just make sure your homework gets done too.”
“Uuuuuuuugh,” he growls as he disappears down the hallway and slams his door; just hard enough to display his dissatisfaction, but not enough to get me yelling at him about respect.
I throw on some sweatpants and crack a beer to keep me company while I tend to dinner and evening chores. My husband makes it home from work right in time to eat some of the chicken and send the kids to bed. He loads the dishwasher while I clear the table. We visit each bedroom to tuck in our young adults, whether they want us there or not.
“Ich liebe dich immer” I say to them as I turn off their lights and close their doors; the same way my father said it to me when I was still young and he was still breathing.
My husband and I head to bed. We cue up whatever show we’ve been falling asleep to lately and get comfortable under the covers. I turn off the light, we strap on our respective CPAP masks, and finally rest our weary heads.
“Did you remember to write the NYSSMA check?”