“Christmas Present for Mom”
All year long it’s business as usual. Mom works really hard to keep the balance and peace around the house. Dad is usually in some kind of tyrannical mood when he comes home from his twelve-hour workday and has little patience for anything that hasn’t been done according to his standards. You see, he is really a brilliant man; it’s not his fault everyone around him at work and home is incompetent, really!
Mom is making Christmas dinner. She will try really hard to get the recipes just the way Dad likes them in the hope that today there will be a reprieve. Sometimes I could almost feel little cuts on the bottom of my feet from walking on all those eggshells. Maybe for just one day the hard work she has done all year to keep the peace will pay off. At least this one special day there will be an illusion of a happy home. If the meal is just right and no one misbehaves, this could be a good Christmas.
My sister is in the kitchen helping mom. My younger brother and I are running around the living room teasing each other. Mom sticks her head in the living room and shouts, “You two better cut it out or I’ll tell your father when he gets home.” My brother and I both know my mom won’t tell Dad, she never does, because the whole house will suffer and the day will be ruined. We take advantage knowing that she won’t tell Dad, and ignore her. Everyone in the family is afraid of my Dad including my Mom. There is a bond we hold. It is unspoken and to this day, it never has been discussed between my siblings and my mom.
My brothers, sister, and my mom intuitively know that when the time comes, we will all behave. We all love her and will be sure to give Mom this day she has worked so hard for. We know our mother does not ask for much. We owe it to her for all the times she has saved us from the wrath of Dad by not telling him when we were bad. It is moms’ turn, her day. My brother, sister, and I know it is her turn and will fall in line, at least for today. We will stick together for mom. She knows that we understand this plan. The plan is unspoken. It is great how we can come together as a family for the holidays to appreciate Mom. It is our little gift to her for protecting us. Merry Christmas Mom.
“It’s Time for School Again”
It’s 7:00 a.m. I know its Monday and I have to be ready for the bus in 30 minutes. I don’t hear my mother in the kitchen so I know she has been out all night again. I take my time getting out of bed and going into the kitchen. I pass by her bedroom and the bed is empty. My heart is pounding. I can feel my legs shaking as I round the hallway to the living room.
The TV is not on.
This is a bad sign. From the hall, I can’t see if mom is on the couch because the back of the couch faces me. I will have to walk all the way into the living room to see around the tall back of the sofa. It feels like forever until I reach the middle of the room and peek over the side.
As I draw nearer, I smell that familiar smell. I hate it! It reminds me of bad breath from eating salami. Fear turns to anger now that I know mom has made it home and she is not dead. She made it home and passed out. Didn’t even turn on the TV. They usually do that. She thinks I won’t hear the noise they make when she brings a stranger home. At least there isn’t some jerk on top of her this time. I shake her, tell I am hungry, and the bus will be here soon. She mumbles something and as always asks me to, “come here and give mommy a kiss.” I have to hold my breath because that smell makes me want to throw up.
There’re enough fake Cheerios at the bottom of the box to fill half a coffee mug. There isn’t any milk. I put a little juice in the cup so I can swallow the stale cereal. I dig around in the hamper and find something to wear that doesn’t smell too bad. Everyone on the bus is laughing. I can’t look up because I know everyone is staring and laughing at me. When I sit down, the boy next to me tells me I smell. Everyone turns around. I feel the blood rush to my head. All I can see is black. I swing my books as hard as I can and split the boys lip. There is blood everywhere.
We arrive at school and as the bus driver is dragging me across the lawn by my arm to the principles’ office, the whole school is looking and pointing at me. All I wanted to do is blend into the background. Now, instead, I am the center of attraction. I feel like I am in a bubble. Things are happening all around me yet it seems like I am frozen in time. I won’t say anything. That always confuses everyone. I will look down at the floor and shrug my shoulders, besides I don’t know why I hit that boy anyway. I really don’t know what to tell them.
My Mom is called.
Ha! She won’t be of any help. Mom shows up and tells the principle, “I’m having trouble with him lately. He will not talk to me.” I watch everyone from inside my bubble while they run around trying to figure out what is wrong with me. It’s okay. As long as I don’t say anything, they won’t take Mom away. If I can just make it back to my room so I can be there when Mom gets home in the morning, and it’s time for school again, everything will be ok.
As I drive home from work I am thinking I can’t wait to see my wife, Peg. I hope these flowers will cheer her up. That woman is such a good mother to our son. I don’t know how she takes care of our five-year- old and runs the household while waiting the arrival of our new baby.
These flowers are a small gift. I’ll do the dishes, clean the kitchen and play with Bobby while she takes a bath. I love to do that for her and it gives me time to connect with my son. Today is Monday and I think it’s chocolate chip this week. Last week it was my turn to pick the flavor and everyone complained when I said Butter Pecan. I didn’t have to twist anyone’s arm to eat it, and although no one would admit it, I think they had acquired a taste for butter Pecan by midweek. Peg will join us for ice cream after her bath. I’ll clean the plates while she gets Bobby ready for bed, then, we’ll both read him a story.
When Bobby falls asleep, my honey and me go snuggle up in our bed. It seemed to work out that Peg always goes first and tells me about her day while I listen. When she is finished, I tell her my day and she listens with her head on my chest while I rub her arm and shoulder. The whole process takes only a couple of hours from dinner to sheets, but it is the best part of my day.
I can’t remember when we started this routine. It feels like we have been doing it forever. But it can’t be more than two or three years because it started when Bobby outgrew his crib. Oh well, I’m in the driveway now. I won’t have to wait much longer. It was Peg’s turn…did she say chocolate chip this week?