my five-year old Abigail yells from her room. “Where’s my pink bow?”
“Good morning to you too Abigail!” I say to her from the doorway of her room. “Your bow is in the bathroom top-right drawer. You put it there last night.”
“Yay Mommy! Thank you! Thank you! I love having you home!” she exclaims.
“You just enjoy home cooked breakfasts before school. Plus I keep your room clean.” I tease lovingly.
Abigail runs over and gives me a big smile and hug only a child that has not grown up yet can give. I can hear my older daughter Charlotte come up behind me, and I remember when I used to get these same hugs from her. At the age of 12, Lottie has begun to resent me the way all teenage girls resent their mothers, but I hold on to every beautiful moment we have shared to make it feel all worthwhile.
“Abigail’s right Mom,” Lottie says interrupting Abigail’s embrace. “It really is nice to have you around more. Plus you seem a lot happier than when you were working for that company.”
Her nice words threw me off briefly. I generally get sighs and eye rolls from her now. “Thanks Lottie,” I say, “That means a lot to me. I enjoy being around for you girls more too.” I smile, and for a moment she smiles back before she remembers she doesn’t like me anymore.
“Jane,” the lone man’s voice in the house engulfs the quiet. “Have you seen my briefcase?”
I kiss Abigail on the head and smile at Lottie again. “Now your Dad would be absolutely lost without me,” I whisper to the girls. “Go on downstairs. Pancakes and eggs are waiting for your breakfast. I will be right down after helping your Dad.”
Jack approaches as the girls clamber down the stairs. “Good morning beautiful!” Jack says to my reflection in the mirror while finishing tying his tie. “Have you seen my briefcase? I can’t find my report for my morning meeting.”
I hold both up so he can see them in the mirror. “What would I do without you?” he replies.
“Probably die of starvation,” I joke. “I got to go get the girls out to the bus.” Jack grabs my wrist before I get out the door. He pins me between him and the counter. “Jack,” I begin to protest, but that did not stop him. He gently brushes my hair from my face and places it behind my ear. I look up at him. He knows this melts any hesitation I have. We have been together for over a decade now, and we know each other inside and out.
“How are you doing?” he asks. “You haven’t been in bed the past few nights.” Uh-oh, he knows I have not been in bed. What am I going to tell him? My mind is racing as he continues. “Are you having trouble sleeping? Stressed over the job hunt? You haven’t been telling me very much about it. Maybe we can have my Mom watch the kids tonight and have a date night. Catch up a little.”
That’s my husband. Always so intuitive and caring. Despite my fear of discovering my secret, I smile. “That would be really nice,” I say. “You have been working extra hard to make up for the loss of income. I would love a chance to catch up. I miss you!”
Jack leans in and kisses me. “I love you, Jane,” he says. “I will always be here for you, and support you in whatever decision you decide to make. Let’s go have breakfast.” He grabs my hand, and we walk together down to the kitchen to eat with the girls.
To Be Continued…