Melody paused, reading her husband’s face as he struggled to gain control over his emotions. Today was another long, stressful day for them both. Work was full of fires to put out, endless deadlines, unreasonable requests, the kind she could never say no to, lest she be seen as someone who wasn’t a “team player.” She was getting paid, but how much was this job going to steal from her? All she really wanted to do was be a stay-at-home mom, but times were tough, and the mortgage wasn’t going to pay itself. Melody’s husband worked two jobs to pay the bills. Steve was tired and short-tempered a lot, but at least they still had a house. Two years ago, she hadn’t been so sure they could afford it.
The plant closed down on such short notice. One day Steve had a well-paying job, they had two cars, a vacation or two every year, and then blammo, it was all gone. Steve had felt like a failure for a time, but started a home-based business selling flyers to utility companies. They were doing all right, but Melody resented having to work so hard after living the “easy” life as a wife and mother at home. Now her job as a sales rep took much of her time away from home, and she felt so conflicted. Was she a Mom or a career jockey? Bit by bit, she felt that everything previously in her control was slipping through her fingers.
The kids were getting sassier by the day, being in public school, and seeing friends and others talk back to their teachers like it was nothing. All the kids at school had outrageous amount of toys, and played video games like they wished they were a part of their own brains. Melody imagined kids going to school expecting to be entertained, instead of taught. I’ll never get used to this, she sighed. How she longed for the good-old days, when kids would never have dreamed to speak to a teacher disrespectfully, and life was not a constant blur of activities. Worse yet, they never even acted like kids anymore, and she had little time or patience to oversee the friendships and the activities like she used to….almost like not being a mom at all, she sighed. Getting through the week at work was hard enough, and then there was the guilt…and all the household chores to do. She trudged through her work most weeks, feeling so tired she was numb.
Steven was too busy to do more than a few dishes, or mow the lawn. He tried, but since his job paid more, it had to come first. Forced servitude! Melody would scream in her head. This is so unfair! Why couldn’t I have married someone rich? The very thought reverberated around Melody’s head until it hurt, so she decided to take a walk around the block. She felt shamed for thinking such a thing, because Steven was a good man. She was lucky to have married him.
I probably look like an idiot, walking around in these silly work clothes, high heels and all, she mused. Oh well, just a quick spin will clear my head. Glancing around, she spied a neighborhood mom, on her daily walk with a stroller full of her triplets. They must be about two years old now, Melody thought. I’ll just go up and say ‘hi’ to Angela.
As she ambled up to her friend, she heard, “Hi, you look so nice today! Sometimes I just feel so envious of ladies with careers. Today I was thrown up on three times, and I’m all out of diapers. My husband is at work and we have to walk to the store. Robin is colicky and I can’t seem to stop crying today. I’m so tired and my husband acts like I’ve been on vacation all day when he comes home from work.” Angela wiped away a tear, and said, “I’m sorry for complaining all over you. I’m having a really bad day and I know I practically advertise that sometimes I don’t like being a stay-at-home Mom. Please don’t think badly of me, okay, Melody?”
Silently, Melody nodded, and thought about her life. It’s not so bad, she realized. I probably would not feel so bad if I just stopped feeling sorry for myself. She eased her car out of their quiet subdivision into a strip mall for a quick jaunt to the drugstore.
Melody returned in record time, feeling uplifted, and cheerily knocked upon Angela’s door. Handing the triplet’s mom 3 packages of diapers, wipes, and a box of chocolates, she said cheerfully, “Happy Mother’s Day!” Angela’s face shouted her surprise, and then crumpled.
…”Oh, Melody, you just made my entire week,” she sniffed. “Here I’ve been feeling so envious of you lately for getting out of the house and making money. All I feel good for is scrubbing the toilet and wiping snotty noses. I just felt like I couldn’t do it anymore when I ran into you, and here you are, all put-together, helping me. It’s pathetic! Oh, I know I need to pull myself together, I’m okay”. Angela blew her nose noisily, and then surveyed her friend’s attractive outfit.
Her smile was a billboard for what Angela felt in her heart. She was going to be okay, and try to be more poised, like her friend Melody. Just then, Angela spied something that made her giggle with glee.
…”Uh, Melody? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you have cheerios stuck all over the back of your pants!” Together the moms laughed until their sides split. “Wow, you might not spend your days at home, but you’ve got ‘Motherhood’ written all over you!”
The friends laughed and giggled, talking excitedly about how they spent their days. Melody had a new found respect for herself, for Angela, and daily struggle their husbands went through as men, and providers. Picking the cheerios off of her pants, Melody giggled and looked forward to the kids coming home on the bus.