“Hello, I’m home.” Howard booms, walking in after a long day’s work.
“Hi!” I yell from the kitchen, preparing dinner.
“Hello!” he yells again, louder this time, since the only response he heard was mine, and the ones he really wanted to hear had their brains attached to the computer and could not be expected to form words until we pulled the plug, or threatened to.
“Hello!” he says, in their faces and they look up at him innocently, and sweetly say, ‘Hi, Daddy” before returning to their screens.
In the kitchen, he is a storm of frustration, and he’s been home all of five minutes.
“They can’t even look up to say hi.” He complains.
“I’m saying hi,” I say and put a plate of dinner before him.
“Do you guys want to go to the park?” He yells to the other room.
A weak ‘yes’ from my oldest can be heard in reply. He has learned to say yes, although his nature usually compels him to say no. My middle son already has his glove on and stands by the door shouting at my husband to hurry.
My husband rolls his eyes in annoyance, mainly because my oldest is not as excited as he’d like him to be. Still, he’s got their attention, and shovels the food in fast so he has time to play.
“Did you have a good day?” I ask. Oh my God, I sound like a housewife. A desperate one.
He is busy eating fast, skimming the paper. “Yeah. Uh huh.” He answers absently.
It makes me want to take the old striped dishtowel I’m using to dry the pot I just cleaned from dinner and throw it at his face. Instead, I resume washing the dishes. I’ll show him… with the cleanest dishes.
With barely a word between us, he finishes his food and hurries from the table to catch whatever daylight is left to give the boys batting practice and maybe do some fielding drills. With a quick peck, a grab for water bottles and a lot of rustling and schlepping of equipment bags out the door, they are gone. The only thing left are the dishes on the table.
And my five year-old.
“Mommy!” he runs in, eyes excited and happy, while mine are watery and down cast. “Can we do drawing? Will you draw me Pokemon?”
“Okay.” I say, trying not to look at him, knowing I’m extra sensitive today for some reason, probably hormonal, and not wanting to cry in front of him.
“I love you!” He squeals and wraps his chunky arms around my waist. “I need to hug you!” He exclaims and it is the most warm, genuine gesture of affection that makes me so grateful and for some reason, even more sad.
“Go play in the other room and I’ll draw with you when I’m done.” I say, and his return smile is love.
He turns to run from the room, but stops abruptly and runs back to hug me once more before jetting off.
“Go on.” I say to the empty room, “Mommy just needs a moment.”