“Alright, Mommies! Who wants to go first?”
I sat patiently on one of the stiff colorful chairs–the kind that were clearly not meant for adults. All the women in the group put on uncomfortable smiles as they gazed around the room, waiting for one of us to volunteer to tell their troubles. Since Cyler worked pretty much all the time now, it was getting lonely in that big house. I loved Chance, but I so longed for adult interaction during the day that when Cyler was done with his duties, his worn ears could not catch a break from my overzealous mind.
I soon caught an ad online for a Mommy & Me group. It wasn’t just the typical let’s-sing-silly-songs-with-our-babies type of group either, but more like a support group for mothers of small children. After my first group session, I fell in love with it and was happy to see that I wasn’t the only pathetic lonely mother in Riverview.
“I guess I’ll go first,” said Vanessa, who typically sat quietly and listened in as she observed the rest of us nut jobs. She was the youngest mother here. Twenty to be exact. She always came to the group with her twin boys looking dazed and confused.
Join the club.
“Okay, Vanessa. What’s on your mind?” asked the group leader, Liz Coleman. Liz always came to the group appearing as if she had everything together. Truth is she didn’t. She was just as screwed up as the rest of us; probably even more. Her husband divorced her for a younger woman and now here she was, trying to get her bearings together as she spewed ill-advised advice to her minions. I was perfectly aware I was one of her minions and I was perfectly okay with that.
“Well,” began Vanessa as she shifted one of her boys in her lap. “I love my boys, I really do. It’s just…I feel like I’ve lost my identity…I don’t even know if I ever had one to begin with actually, so I guess I didn’t lose anything. All I am is a mother and a wife to a guy I hardly ever see anymore.”
“I can understand that,” emphasized Liz. “Being a military spouse is a lot to deal with, especially when you have children to think about. You have a lot on your plate and it’s only you right now to handle all of it.”
Vanessa nodded with relief in her eyes; finally glad that somebody else understands what she’s going through. Hearing everyone’s stories made me believe that most of them were single mothers. I know Cyler was busy all the time working, but this group made me relieved to know that I at least had him no matter what.
After we finished the discussion about Vanessa’s predicament, Liz put her focus on me. “Adelia, how have you been doing? We haven’t heard yet from you today.”
I let out a small sigh and readjusted myself with a sleepy Chance in my arms. “I’m okay,” I stated softly. Looking around the room, everyone looked at me with those uncomfortable smiles, waiting for me to spill out my emotions all over the carpet that laid on the floor. I cleared my throat before speaking again. “I uh…I guess I’m feeling a bit…concerned. We have this new baby coming and I really–”
Before I could finish my thought, the door popped open and another young woman walked sheepishly into the room. I gazed at her as she waddled her way across the room and sat in the empty chair beside me; clearly expecting another child of her own. My eyes automatically went to the little boy she was carrying. Another platinum blonde boy with green eyes in Riverview.
What the hell is going on?
Liz welcomed the young woman into the group and introduced herself. Once she had sat down and got comfortable, Liz asked if she wanted to introduce herself to the group.
“Hi everyone, I’m Stacie and this is Jonah. We’re new to Riverview and I don’t know a single soul here, so I thought maybe it would be a good idea to join a group like this to get to know some other mothers like me and to hopefully get some support.”
Everyone welcomed her to the group. I couldn’t take my eyes off them both. Jonah was more of the spitting image of the boy in my dreams more than any other I have seen, but yet, not quite the same. I assumed he got the platinum blonde hair from his father because Stacie possessed more of a strawberry blonde color. She was young and beautiful. She didn’t look like she would’ve been a mother, but more like an athlete. How does she keep herself so together like that?
“I’m sorry, Adelia. Go on and finish what you were going to say,” urged Liz as she gestured a hand out towards me to continue.
I gazed over at the newcomer who was busy taking it all in, gazing around the room and at everybody as if she had just landed on another planet. “It’s okay. Maybe next time,” I replied, not feeling comfortable discussing it further anymore.
Liz’s brows furrowed slightly when I said that, but quickly put her attention on Stacie. “Stacie, we’re just discussing our concerns here as mothers. Is there something you would like to get off of your chest?”
Stacie’s eyes widened as she was caught off guard. “Not really,” she stated. “Not right now at least. I just want to observe first, if that’s okay?”
Liz assured her that it was okay and continued on with another topic. While the others took turns chatting away with Liz, I found myself reverting back to the young woman next to me. Why does she make me feel so inadequate? Why do I feel less of a mother now? I didn’t like the way she made me feel without having to say a word to me yet. Here she was glowing beautifully with a boy of her own and here I was, looking skinny and frail. My complexion was so pale, that I looked like I had never seen the light of day. Even my own father had more color to him. I suddenly went to a dark place when Quinn barged into my mind. This was all her. I hated her all over again. Then the guilt settled in again. I found myself suddenly missing the boy I should have had a long time ago.
After the group session was over, I grabbed my things and headed outside. Stacie was already outside and looked right at me as soon as I came out, as if she was waiting for me. “Can I talk to you for a moment?” she asked with concern in her eyes.
I hesitated, but agreed to the talk. “What’s up?” I asked when I approached her.
“I just noticed you were the only other mother in there who is also expecting. Like I mentioned before, I’m new here and I don’t know anyone. I would love for us to get to know each other, if that’s okay with you.”
I must have said numerous amounts of profanity words in my head before answering her. How was I suppose to be friends with this woman if I had already despised her? Alright, maybe I was being irrational and petty. She was a younger than I was and maybe looked at me as being an influence or something, which I was ill-equipped for, but I had no choice. “Sure,” I agreed, forcing a smile on my face.
Who knows, maybe we would end up being great friends, I told myself.
Stacie let out a slight sigh of relief and smiled back.
“Were you waiting for a ride?” I asked her.
Stacie smiled again, but this time in embarrassment. “No actually. I take a taxi everywhere I go.”
I assured her that it wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about and that many people here take taxis. She looked like she felt better about herself after I said that.
“Hey, are you hungry? This baby has been kicking me for some food, I’m sure.”
“I could eat,” she stated matter-of-factly. “Oh, but wait! I don’t think I have enough cash on me though!” She said as she looked for her wallet in her pockets.
I glanced down at Jonah, who was observing me curiously. He was so adorable that I couldn’t help but to smile at him. Chance couldn’t help to stare at him too. “No worries,” I told her as her attempts to find her wallet went unsuccessful. “It’s my treat.”
“Are you sure? I don’t mind paying, it’s just that I think I left my wallet at home,” she said half-panicking.
“Don’t worry about it. Take it as my Welcome to Riverview dinner!”
Stacie beamed with appreciation and thanked me profusely.
We went to the little bistro down the street from the Mommy and Me group and decided to eat outside since it was such a lovely afternoon. You wouldn’t have thought it was winter time here, but in Riverview, it rarely got too cold.
Stacie seemed in awe as she observed the streets and all the historic buildings. I assumed where she came from wasn’t anything like this. I imagined her being from a big city or the suburbs where everything was at your fingertips. The way she carried herself and wore heavy amounts of makeup told me she was insecure about herself, but dared to ever show it to anyone. That was one thing we had in common.
While we ate our food, we talked about ourselves and what each led us to Riverview. I left certain events out, of course, but gave her a brief synopsis. She, on the other hand, was more than willing to pour her whole life story onto me.
“I’m from Bridgeport,” she explained. I knew it. “I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with my mother, who wasn’t my biggest fan. So when I turned sixteen, I high-tailed it out of there and moved in with my then boyfriend, Nick. He was in his twenties.” Stacie stops to let out an awkward giggle. “I eventually got pregnant with Jonah and once we had him, things got cold between Nick and I. We struggled a lot financially and soon broke up. So I left and found my own place to live in some halfway house for runaway teens. Two years after that, I ran into him again and we made up. That’s when I got pregnant with this one.”
Stacie looked down at her plate before taking another bite. I was already finished with mine and realized that I must have looked like a complete pig. “So where is he now?” I asked gently, not wanting to upset her.
She shrugged her shoulders and took another bite. “Back in Bridgeport somewhere. He didn’t want anything to do with this one or Jonah anymore. Said he couldn’t afford them and didn’t want us burdening his career as a musician.”
I scowled at the thought of someone just abandoning their child like that because of their career or for any reason. I know what I did was despicable, but I was also a child myself at the time. At the age I am now, I couldn’t imagine destroying a gift like that.
Jonah sat in his seat, content with the staring contest him and Chance were having; completely oblivious to the conversation we were having about him and his parents. He was such a well-mannered baby. I wondered if the baby she was carrying would look like him too.
“How many children do you have?” asked Stacie.
“Just these two,” I said, pointing to Chance and the growing baby in my belly.
Stacie smiled. “Do you know what you’re having yet?”
I shook my head. “We decided to keep it a secret.”
“Why is that?”
This time I was the one to smile. “I’m such a control freak, you know? I feel like if I wait patiently for these nine months to know what we’re having, then I can condition myself to get use to control loss. Then maybe I won’t freak out as much on those days where things aren’t going according to plan once the baby arrives.”
Stacie nodded understandably. “Makes sense. Maybe I should do the same,” she chuckled.
“You should! It’s been invigorating! Plus, it drives the people around you nuts,” I laughed. Stacie laughed as well. After she finished her meal, we talked a little bit more about parenthood. It was nice having someone to talk to that was in the same boat as I. Sure, I had the Mommy and Me group, but I hadn’t really gotten to know them that well yet.
We made plans to meet up again for a play date so Chance and Jonah could get to know each other better as well as ourselves. Having girl time every once in awhile sounded very nice and will give Cyler some peace while he worked on the ranch.
We said our goodbyes and she promised she would call to set something up in a day or two. I offered to take her home, but she respectfully declined. I didn’t want to be pushy, so we parted ways. On the way home, I made a mental note to keep in touch with her. She would be useful to have in my life.
At least for now.