Monday, April 28, 2008

Mother's Day Out by Meg Austen

Austin is a family friendly town with gobs of wonderful programs for mothers of small children. You usually find the signs posted in front of stately, red-bricked church buildings with meticulously manicured gardens that read, "Mother's Day Out. I used to love to see those signs, though I didn't personally get the opportunity for many a day out.

But alas, there comes a time in every mother's life, when your children are too old for Mother's Day Out, and yet, mother still needs a day out. So last Friday, I left my kids at home, alone, and I went for a day out, to help a friend in need. I know. I know what you're thinking. You did what?! But before you come unglued, hear me out.

My kids are used to this. Being raised in a single-parent home they learned early on that when Mom isn't in the building, you keep your feet and your bum seated squarely on the floor in front of the television. You get up only to get something to eat or drink, or go to the bathroom. You don't climb on bar stools, or counter tops, or anything that would otherwise elicit an emergency call to mom while tying a tourniquet around the blood spewing body parts of your sibling. You never open the front door. Ever. Unless the house is on fire. In which case, you make sure to get yourselves outside. Away from the house. They were rules to live by, and we'd done it for years.

Fast forward many years-- probably too many for your comfort-- however, now my kids are in high school. Honors students. Capable of handling any emergency on their own. Can cook meals with nothing catching fire. Most of my stainless steel pans survived every fiasco, and so did my microwave. So when I left my two teens at home alone to drive to north to help Cheryl with her wedding preparations, I figured things would be fine.

I breezed up Highway 71 carefully calculating the traffic conditions and the way to avoid commute traffic, only to get snarled in bumper to bumper traffic naught but three miles from my destination. But even that moved surprisingly quickly, and I was due to be right on schedule, and looking forward to a time of laughter and chattering and otherwise engaging our hands and our mouths in the fellowship of good friends. And it was for a good cause. Cheryl is such a sweetheart, she makes a killer supper , and she was getting married in a few weeks. She needed us. Another girlfriend, Carrie, was converging on Cheryl's house at just about the same time from the other direction, so when my cell phone rang, I figured it was Carrie.

"Meg! Where are you?"

"I should be there in two. Where are you?"

"Meg! Listen to me. Where are you?"

My ears perked up as I suddenly realized this wasn't the voice of Carrie, but of one of my neighbors. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong, and I wasn't there. My house was on fire, maybe. Someone needed an ambulance. Argh, just when I thought I could get away for a moment, disaster strikes.

"I'm about an hour north. Going to help a friend. What's wrong?"

"I just got home. I'm standing in my driveway. Your children are on the roof of your house. And they've got a green couch up there! Are they supposed to be on the roof with a couch?!"

So much for life's lessons about keeping your feet and your bum planted squarely in front of the television.

After a quick phone call to get them and the couch off the roof of my house, I enjoyed my meal, the fellowship of good friends, and the hour drive home.

And when I got home, they both got an 'F' for obeying orders.

But even I had to admit, once I realized that nobody needed an ambulance, no bones had been broken, and nothing was on fire, that they'd gotten quite a photograph.

So I gave them an 'A' for creativity. And decided to write about it.

Writing is good for your soul.


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