“Just so you know, I took the trash can in, let the dog out, and that’s his food trash on the kitchen room table still,” I rattled as I returned to the room for the third time, out of breath from the two flights of stairs I’d jogged each trip.
It’s been tense in the house. Our kids are stretched for time with athletic and scholastic commitments and family expectations and obligations. There is little space for social exploits – - and the space there is might better be used for sleeping.
And the teen? Hubs and I have been back and forth about privileges and punishments, about freedoms and restraints. There’s conflict between us. Our separate parenting styles have clashed. And in the end, I’m “just the step mom,” even if hubs’d never dare say it.
Where’s the manual for these years?
In retrospect, I think I might actually be evil. Too many times I’ve pointed out what wasn’t done and ignored what was. Did I want the boy – ahem, young man – in his father’s blaring headlights again? I must’ve, because I’d conveniently forgotten to mention the umpteen times he’d climbed those two flights of stairs just to ask, “Need anything mom?” only to be turned away with a snotty “nah” and not so much of a glance his way.
I’ve not thought much about it, but when first he moved in, every greeting and every parting included a hug. It was awkward and distant – like that of strangers feeling obligated to be jovial on a blind date. And yet… Now that the hugs have all but subsided, I miss them.
“His game is tonight, too.” Hubs said as I returned from work. Great. Again, two kids with events simultaneously occurring. So what if it’s just one game, one meet? I said I’d make it to all the home competitions.
“Do we split up? You go to his, and I hers?” It was decided without need of answer. Split the kids into the notorious yours and mine whenever there is conflict in schedules or opinions. And therein lies the lie in blended family: the mixture separates too damn easy. The cohesiveness we strive to create is too easily broken.
I watched the track meet. My daughter ran two races. Meanwhile, my son, who has his whole heart in the game, suited up and began his battle on the turf across town.
I got home. I started dinner. Hubs, surprisingly was still home. If previous games were any indication, there was still time left in the football game. I handed him the baby.
A short time later: “Rachelle, take RiAnne. Coach called. He’s on the field.”
Code for disaster. Like doctors, coaches don’t call unless there’s bad news. My son was hurt. The magnitude of that realization was crushing. No details divulged, just “he’s on the field.” Damn football.
Hubs took the van, shot out the driveway with a madness of a man in fear for his life. Minutes later, “Pick up the phone! You know you want to answer it…” my obnoxious ring tone sounded.
“The ambulance just went by. It’s headed to the school.”
Heart. Keep. Beating. Breathe.
“Please, be careful. Say a prayer. Slow down. Get to him, now.” I said it with a calmness I didn’t feel. My son was hurt – it was serious. They couldn’t tell us over the phone.
In my head, the nagging began. You had time to go watch the end. You get in free. Why did you just go home?
But Ya was complaining. Ri, with continuously draining nose and swollen eyes, needed to get inside now that it had grown dark and colder. So I went home.
Reports of condition were sporadic, incomplete. A stretcher. Sirens. Transport to the ER imminent. Coach by his side. Hubs driving close behind. Tingling in his side. He moved his fingers. X-Ray.
And I, hopelessly self-consumed, guilty and at home. At some point, I passed out. This stupid little cold and baby’s weary sleeping and waking claimed me. Pathetic.
In the haze of my half consciousness, hubs returned. He came home, too, uncomfortably swallowed in a neck brace, but walking – albeit slightly less bounce in his step and swing in his arm. He asked, “Need anything, mom?”
I should’ve said yes. I need a hug.