It was the middle of the day on Thursday. Mary was busying herself with whatever she could find. She kept the house so clean, there was really nothing for her to do. So, she cleaned everything again. Once every surface and window glistened in the sun and was immune to dust she began organizing. She took all the spices out of the cabinets and put them back in an order that only made sense to her. She straighten the boxes of teas so they were all equidistant from each other. There were plastic bags of macaroni, glitter, and yarn on Phoenix’s art table. She emptied them into cute glass jars and lined them up perfectly. It was like nesting all over again. The sadness she had been feeling gave way to frustration that Thursday—a feeling she did not want to feel. In the midst of her frenzy, someone knocked on the door. She huffed and marched toward the door. It was Asia. She opened the door but proceeded to send her away.
“Asia, I appreciate your concern, but this is really not a good time. I have so much to do, and the children will b—
What an unfortunate slip. It was almost enough to send her back into a crying jag, but she didn’t want to fall apart in front of Asia. She just wanted to be alone and get over things how she got over them. However, Asia didn’t miss that look. That’s why she was there. She was watching her at the party and saw that she was hiding something yet again.
“Anyway,” Mary continued, “I’d love for you to stay and chat, but I simply—
“Mary…what’s going on?”
Something foreign came over Mary. It took both of them by surprise.
“I don’t have to tell you anything! Just because I shared one part of my life with you doesn’t give you the right to come poking around here meddling in my business! I appreciated your ear then, but I don’t need it now! Everything is fine! Now, please go!”
Asia wasn’t quite sure what to do. Mary clearly needed a friend. True, they weren’t exactly friends yet, but they were definitely on the road to friendship. She didn’t want to leave her alone, but she had to obey her wishes, right? Truthfully, it hurt just a bit. She turned around and stretched out her hand toward the doorknob.
Asia turned around with her eyebrows furrowed.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it. Any of it! Please don’t go, Asia.”
Asia nodded skeptically. Mary stepped into the living room and sat; Asia joined her.
Asia wasn’t sure what was supposed to happen next. Clearly there was something on Mary’s mind, but did she wait for her to spit it out first?
Mary cleared her throat. “I really am sorry. I hope you don’t think I’m some hateful monster.”
“Of course not.”
“My children are gone. Susie forced Tim to agree to let her live with him, and then she made me agree to let her have an early birthday so she could do it.”
Asia nodded slowly as some pieces of the puzzle began to make sense. She knew Tim and Susie weren’t twins and wondered about the double birthday.
“I’m so confused, Asia! On one hand, I’m proud of them…I’m proud of me! I raised them. I taught them how to be polite, how to dress, how to behave…I should be proud. But, I’m not! My daughter hates me! So much so she concocted this crazy plan to escape me! They’re not ready for the real world, Asia! What are they going to do out there? And John…I just…” She sighed as she accepted she couldn’t do anything about any of those things.
Asia hoped to make her feel better. “Well… Just think… They’re not alone. They have each other! And, they’ll turn out to be stronger and more well-adjusted because of the lessons they’ll learn on their own.”
Mary understood what she meant, but she also understood that Asia wasn’t at this stage in her life yet. She smiled softly and proceeded to school Asia on raising teenagers. “You may very well be right, Asia. But, you’re currently still in the place where you think everything Kolby does is adorable. And, Kolby still likes you and comes to you for advice. He’s easy to manage because he’s always there. But, there will be a time when he begins to pull away. It’s natural, but you’ll think it’s your fault. You’ll begin to worry about him more and more and questioning if you’ve done the right things. And then, when his birthday comes, you’ll wonder if you’ve prepared him enough. Will he do the right things? Were you a good mother? That is the moment you realize you will never stop worrying about this child. Being a mother doesn’t stop when they leave home. And, it’s even harder when you are estranged.”
It never occurred to Asia that she could receive parenting advice from Mary. She wasn’t quite sure what to follow that up with. Mary was simply going to have to get over it on her own.
Mary changed the subject. “Sooo…I heard not only that you were pregnant and no one knew, but you also had twins! How exciting! Tell me about them…”