The Right Thing - by Connie Bergendahl

Single parenthood was for the birds. Or, maybe I was doing something wrong because there was nothing glamorous about student housing. No AC. It was 95 degrees outside and 97 inside and tempers were climbing as well. My daughters, 12 and 13, were wonderfully whiney and complaining about not having the money to go to the swimming pool. I didn't have a hose so they could run through the sprinkler. I didn't have the gas to go to the lake, not that the car would make it that far. Yes! I was a bad mother! Life really sucked!
"I'm going to go live with dad!" Sherry, the 13-year old informed me sarcastically.
"Don't waste the trip," I answered, just as sarcastically. "He'd send you back--I know I would."
"Sherry said she's going to run awy, " Lisa decided to add to the conflict.
"Give me a few minutes--we'll help her pack," I answered.
"Can I have her room?" Lisa asked gleefully.
That set off a new argument. I sent them downstairs to work it out and hoped the neighbors wouldn't complain.
I set about finishing the disheds and listening to my son, Jared, play with his two friends, Beau and Sam, oustide the window. He was five. I wondered about his growing up without a father. I wondered about the girls missing that extra parent around. I wondered how I would make it alone in college the next few years. These questions plagued me, but only briefly. I knew I really didn't have the luxury for self-pity.
"My dad can beat up your dad." I heard Beau say to Sam.
Not to be outdone, Sam replied, "My dad can beat up your dad."
My heart ached for Jared. I felt so bad. What had I done? What would he say? What could he say? I held my breath. I knew he was thinking. It was so quiet.
"Well," he said, "my mom can beat up BOTH your dads."
I smiled. Finished my dishes. I took some tip money I'd been saving for a "rainy day" fund. We all went to Dairy Queen.