She felt a hand on her hip, “mmmmm”.
“Babe… Abby needs for you to read her essay. She won’t let me read it, only you.”
“She is a momma’s girl… What time is it?”
“Almost seven o’clock.”
She sat straight up. “What? I looked at my phone at 5:02 and started to get up… what in the hell? I NEVER sleep this late!”
“Well… if you weren’t out carousing every night this week maybe you wouldn’t be oversleeping.”
She chuckled as best she could while leaning over to slide socks onto her feet, “…gotta say - ‘carousing’ has a distinctly different definition these days than it did during my college days.”
He handed her a cup of coffee as they walked toward the bedroom door, “Is 8 basketball games in a week not considered carousing?”
She raised her eyebrows, hardened her mouth and shook her head in a vehement ‘no’. Her look softened with her first sip of coffee, and even more so when she caught his gaze, “It’s been a while since you woke me up with a hand on my hip…”
“It’s been a while since you slept later than me. But I’m more than happy to revisit the hand-to-hip thing later tonight.”
“I’d like that.… hey! Cal is staying at Wyatt’s Friday night….” just knowing their bedroom neighbor wouldn’t be home later in the week was enough to spark excitement. For years only Sharon was affected by their son being next door but as he got older, and stayed up later, it began to dampen Scott’s mood, too.
They both headed down the stairs with a smile of contentment; then they reached the bottom where Abby stood, not so patiently waiting…
“Here mom,” she jammed a paper at her mother, “I had most of it finished last night but you were already in bed,” it was an accusation, not an observation.
“Uhm… pump the brakes here Little Thing. I have been reminding you to write this for 3 days, have I not?”
“Yes.” (with the audacity of indignation).
“So how in the world is it MY responsibility to stay up late to take care of something YOU procrastinated on?”
“I know… I know…”
“Cleary you don’t…”
“Will you please just look over it?” (with more irritation than appreciation)
“Well of course! I’d love to; what with you being so friendly and all.”
Sharon looked down at the paper and shot a sideways question to Scott, “Did you wake the other 2 yet?”
He was already up and moving, “Oh… shit…. no, I forgot!”
The essay had little to correct (not surprisingly, as Abby had a knack for words) and the task was completed with minimal (though present) backlash.
Alex, the girl who made Sharon a mom, came into view, “Mom, how are we gonna do the car thing today? It’s actually a good thing I won’t have my car today. You can pick me up from practice and we can head straight to Cal’s game, then we won’t have to stop at the school for my car later.”
“Yeah, that’ll be nice… I figured I’d take the younger two to school while you drive to the garage, then I’ll pick you up at the garage and take you to your breakfast. You can catch a ride with somebody to the food bank and then back to school, right?”
“Oh I can’t, actually… the food bank goes until noon and my test in 5th period is before that. Can you pick me up at 11:15 and take me back to school?”
“I guess I’ll have to…”
Scott was in their room, dressing for work, with not a care in the world as Sharon frantically grabbed sweats from the floor. He watched as she grabbed her tangled hair and masterfully created a messy-bun (and not of the ‘fashionable’ variety), “What are you getting all gussied up fer?”
“It speaks volumes about me that you consider this (she threw her arms out to ‘display’ herself) to be gussied up….”
He smiled and kissed her cheek.
Sharon leaned into it and said, “Of course I’d schedule Alex’s brakes on the day of a senior breakfast and the food bank - from.which. - she has to leave early because of a test… my life is dumb.”
Scott shook his head, “I’m not sure how you keep this family straight… you’re our own personal air-traffic controller. I have time, I can take Abby and Cal to school.”
His offer was nice, but another example of just how out-of-the-loop he was.
“They take Jackson everyday, you don’t have time to pick him up. I’ll just take care of it. No worries… it’s why we sold the pharmacy, right? So I could be a full-time mom… no matter what my face says, I’m really enjoying this…” her eye roll almost knocked her over. She shouted over her shoulder, “Are you two ready? It’s getting late, we still have to get Jackson and I have to take care of your sister after I drop you off.”
“No. I’m not.”
Abby, who sat in a recliner, relaxing for ten minutes this morning, was not ready…
Cal was brushing his teeth.
“Well, I’m going to go get Jax and be back here for you in a few minutes. BE.READY.”
Thumbs up from Cal, silence from Abby.
Minutes later, as Sharon was slowly making her way down their rutted alleyway, toward the driveway, with Jackson in tow, she saw both cars (Scott’s and Alex’s) pulling out, “Now why in the heck is Alex leaving already? I still have to drop you guys off before I can go get her…”
She and Jackson had quite a few minutes to ponder this as her slow-moving kids were still not ready. Sharon texted Cal ‘come on man’ - no response. She called Cal’s phone - no answer. She looked to Jackson, “You know he’s sitting there with that damned thing in his hand, right?”
He giggled, “Yeah.”
She called Abby - no response.
“Well, too bad for them. I’ll take you, then get Alex, then come back for them. If they’re late, they’re late. Other people are being affected by their laziness.”
As she pulled out of the driveway Jackson said, “there’s Cal…”
“I’m not pulling back in now…” she said into her phone as she answered it, “I texted AND called you… I’m dropping Jax off and then getting Alex and I’ll be back for you after that.”
“Ok mom… sorry.” Cal was upset, more so because he hated to disappoint his mom than being worried about getting a tardy.
The traffic to the school was standard confusion. The process seemed very simple to Sharon, especially considering it was December - hadn’t people developed a sense of what goes on by now? She sat in the drop off line watching as people took their sweet time. “Jackson, have your stuff ready - you know I hate a drop-off dawdler.”
He knew the drill but, his chuckle was nervous as he climbed out of the car.
It took a ridiculously long time to get to the garage. So far that morning she had not added more than 2 miles to her odometer but had been in her car for 25 minutes. She pulled up behind Alex’s car and put hers into park.
Then took a closer look. “The fuck?” she mumbled to herself as she tapped Drama Queen 1 on her contacts list.
“Where are you? I’m sitting behind your car at the garage.”
“Daddy took me.”
“Well that would’ve been good information to have about 15 minutes ago…”
“Cal was supposed to tell you….”
Sharon stopped her.
“I gotta go get them, I’ll see you at 11:15”
She thought she heard an apology but couldn’t be sure as she was hanging up, putting her car in reverse and stewing all at the same time.
The 2nd - but not last - trip to the school was, to say the least, not pleasant. The discussion centered around the absolute lack of organization and efficiency in their home; and the changes that would take place after Christmas break (the same changes that have been threatened at least once a quarter for the last 10 years).
As Abby got out of the car she started crying, “oh for christ sakes Abby, what NOW?”
“I forgot Kirsten’s Christmas gift.”
Sharon offered no help as she drove off irritated.
She walked in the door and saw the gift, chosen with as much precision as was used to wrap it; she hated to give in to her kids’ irresponsibility but dern it! It was Christmas... She picked up her phone and texted Drama Queen 2, ‘I’m dropping Alex at the school at 11:30, would you like me to send the gift with her?”
The plan was agreed upon by all participants so Sharon turned her attention to the upcoming festivities. She spent the better part of the next 3 hours writing the annual “Santa poems” to the kids; an annual tradition that found her recapping each kid’s activities the past year (the writing of the poems was actually the easy part; the remembering of all the stuff to include was what overwhelmed her). She had hoped that once the nasty truth about Santa came out - she wouldn’t have to do the poems, but the kids did love reading about their year in verse…
of course they did.
At 11:15 she grabbed the gift, and the green sweater Alex requested in a 9:35 text, and headed to the food bank to get her girl and make her 3rd - but not last - trip to the school.
As she pulled into her driveway for the… 4th?… time that day she got a text from her mechanic. She sighed, jammed the car in park and rested her head on the steering wheel. A few deep breaths later and she was on her way, by foot, to pick up Alex’s car.
The mile-long walk did wonders for her outlook but devastated her not-so-accommodating schedule.
She paid the bill and pulled out of the garage lot. She remembered just in time that she needed to stop for milk (the 6th gallon so far that week) then headed home, where she sat down to eat a granola bar before wrapping the gifts she bought. Scott wasn’t a completely absent dad, he wouldn’t be surprised by the gifts, he just hadn’t bought or actually seen any of them. Christmas was to be lean this year. It was an ongoing discussion: with Sharon no longer working, Alex’s senior year and the financial responsibilities that go along with that and their family trip to Spain that Sharon was painstakingly planning, all meant a less-than-extravagant showing on Christmas morning.
About a month ago Abby asked, “What exactly do you mean by ‘a small Christmas’?” as she was writing her ‘wish list’.
“Well, to put it all into perspective… Laura Ingalls once got an orange for Chirstmas… you’ll do better than that."
While wrapping gifts Sharon fielded texts concerning Alex’s senior portrait session, the haircut that would follow the session (Alex was donating her hair… 17” and her hair would still be halfway down her back), the Christmas lights adventure she had planned with their best friends, and Cal’s varsity jacket that was being worked on by a friend of a friend. She answered a call from the school counselor about Abby and her friend group (there wasn’t trouble… yet) and called to schedule 2 orthodontist appointments and an allergy shot for next week.
She also let the dog out, and subsequently back in, approximately seventeen times.
Cal texted her just as she finished wrapping the last gift, “Hey Shar… I’m low on lunch money. My balance is a negative.” She smiled at him calling her Shar - though it seemed disrespectful, it was actually a term of endearment. It was true what they say about mommas and their boys and the fact that Cal, out of nowhere, started calling her Shar just proved that. Only 4 people (well… now 5) in her life called her Shar and all of them were embedded in her heart in a special way; it was uncanny and yet made perfect sense, that her only son would be in that group.
She went to the computer and balanced the checkbook, which didn’t take long because she obsessively monitored their bank account; then she electronically added funds to her little man’s lunch account.
She stood, stretched, and drooped when she realized she had to put the roast in the crockpot. “Most people are taking their dinner OUT of the crockpot now… I’m just putting it in…” She texted Scott, “hey babe… putting the roast in now. Probably should’ve done it about 2 hours ago so I’ll put it on high for now but I’m leaving for Cal’s game at 5 so I need you to bump it back to low when you get home.”
He sent back the ‘I’m on it’ bitmoji then, “Send me game updates, please. And be careful - that’s a long drive and the roads aren’t great. I love you.”
She sent back the “How you like me now” sexy bitmoji.
“Me likey me some Bitmoji Sharon”
“Ok pervert. I’ll see you when I get home. Don’t forget about the roast. I love you.” and with that she set off to grab a quick shower.
With hair still wet from the shower, she headed to the school for the 4th - but not the last - time. Alex opened the back door to toss her bags in, “Hey mom.”
She was at the passenger door, getting in when Sharon asked, “Hey babe, how was practice?”
“Good… same… how was your day?”
“Same ol’ same ol’…”
They spent the seventy-five-minute drive discussing the colleges she wanted to visit and the latest ’T’ about the “IT” couple in 12th grade. It was a nice time but stirred a little panic in Sharon while she tried to figure out just when she’d have the time to get her first-born to these college campus tours; and also because she knew Alex was a good girl but hearing about her peers and their sexual activity was a touch… discomforting.
The two of them sat through the JV and Varsity games; as a sophomore Cal was getting good minutes at the varsity level so they had to stay for both.
Her 7:05 game update included, “don’t forget to turn the roast to low”
“Yes ma’am! I’ll do it as soon as I get changed”
The ride home was a continuation of the ride there except the talk revolved around the games they had watched. As usual the conversation was comfortable and easy. And then Alex looked to her phone and said, “Dad says for us to stop and pick up the pizza he ordered, it should be ready just as we’re getting back into town.”
“Huh? what about the roast?” she looked over and saw Alex typing.
“He said he forgot to turn it down… he got sidetracked…”
Sharon, Alex and 2 pizzas were just getting parked in the driveway when Cal texted, “Mom we are going up high school hill”
Sharon growled but then silently acquiesced, this was the best possible timing, “The boys are back. Take the pizzas in and get it all set up, I’ll get Cal and be home in a few minutes.”
The 5th - and last - trip to the school was uneventful with the 2-minute drive home filled with Cal giving a humorous self-analysis of his effort on the court.
Dinner, though late, was a lively affair; Sharon insisted on family sit-downs every night, no matter the time or menu. They made fun of Scott for forgetting about the roast and shared every story from their respective days - both the fun and mundane… tonight it seemed to lean heavily to the mundane.
Sharon gave a rundown of every appointment she made and the plans for Christmas she had made with Scott’s family. Abby looked up and said, “Mom sure makes things happen…”
“Yes she does! We’re very lucky she’s ours,” Scott rubbed his wife’s knee to let her know he meant it.
After cleaning the kitchen she sat down for 10 minutes; at 11:30 Sharon headed to bed, exhausted.
“‘Night mommy, I love you…” from behind Abby’s closed door.
“Good night Peanut, I love you, too.”
“Good night mom, love ya…” Alex glanced up from her notebook and smiled.
“‘Night Pretty Girl, I love you, too.”
Cal looked up from his book when she walked past, “Hey momma, I have another away game tomorrow so I put my uniform in the wash on delay, it’ll be done at 5 or so. Will you be up to get it out and hang it? that’s the only way it’ll be dry in time…”
“Yep bud, I’ll set my alarm for 10 til 5. ‘Night honey.”
Cal got up and walked to her, he wrapped her in his 5’11’ 200 pound frame, “Thanks momma, I love you.”
“I love you, too, Doll.”
Scott was under the covers when she walked in to their room, “Sorry about the roast.”
“You know I’ll eat pizza over a roast any day… I’m sorry the house was a mess when you got home. I feel like I stay busy but then I feel like I have nothing to show for my day…"
She turned out the light, crawled under the covers and the last thing she remembered was the feel of Scott’s hand on her hip.