Kelly dried her hands on the kitchen towel and winced. Red and blotchy from being immersed in water and household cleaners for the last several hours, they stung like fire. She reached for the tub of thick Eucerin cream she kept under the sink for moments just like this and lathered it on enjoying the cool, soothing relief it brought.
“If only there were a cream that would do the same for my aching back and feet,” she thought to herself.
It had been another full day: two kids off to school, one still at home, laundry, ironing, a game of Candy Land, vacuuming, phone calls, two stories read, lunch, bathrooms scrubbed, dinner, snacks, homework, quick run to the store, baths, and finally kids were in bed, husband was watching the game on T.V., and she had just finished loading the dinner dishes. She was so tired! A hot bath for herself was tempting, but, even the effort to make THAT happen was too much now. Besides she still needed to clean up the art supplies the children had been entertaining themselves with before bed and lay out their clothes for school tomorrow.
She was headed toward the kitchen table, currently hidden under paints, crayons, and construction paper, when she heard the slam of a car door from her neighbor’s house. Lifting the blinds she saw her neighbor, Angela, removing her suitcase from the trunk of her car.
“Angela’s home,” she called over her shoulder to her husband.
“Oh, yah?” He replied, not taking his eyes off the T.V. “She was gone a long time this trip, wasn’t she?”
“Yep.” Kelly walked from the window back to the kitchen table and began scooping up the loose construction papers, stacking them in a neat pile. “Two weeks in Paris.”
Angela and her husband both had jobs with a large International company that flew them from one incredible city to another. They had an enormous house, a wine cellar to make any studied wine connoisseur jealous, flashy cars, and two kids signed up for every activity you could think of, with a nanny to get them from one place to another.
Kelly had once worked for a large engineering firm. After her first son was born she took six months off. Shortly after returning to work she was offered a promotion, which would have required longer days and quite a bit of traveling. She turned it down, wanting to be with her son as much as possible. Only eight months later she was let go.
She since had two more children and had gotten a part time job (20 hours a week) that she worked while her youngest attended k-3 at a local preschool. She didn’t regret her decision to make motherhood a priority, but, every once in a while, when she saw Angela coming and going in her designer clothes and stiletto shoes, java in hand, she felt a twinge of envy.
When she had been struggling with the decision to turn down the promotion or not, her husband had said something to her that stuck: “Kelly, if you walked away from this company tomorrow, how quickly would you be replaced and forgotten?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she had responded, “pretty quickly I’d imagine.”
“In your role as mother to our son, you are irreplaceable!”
Whenever she felt that twinge of envy, she would remember those words. She was remembering them now as she accidently brushed one of the papers off of the table and onto the floor. Bending down to retrieve it she noticed it was a drawing by her six year old daughter depicting the two of them, hand in hand, standing in front of thick black bars containing a lion. Fluffy blue clouds floated around a yellow sun. On one side of the picture, in crooked, miss-spelled words, it read: “me and momy my bes frind.”
Kelly had gone on her daughter’s field trip with her last week to the zoo. She remembered how enamored her daughter had been with the lion. Holding the picture in her hand, tears welled up in her eyes.
“Thank you, God, for this reminder.” She whispered.
There was no job more important than this one, right here, right now…being “mommy.” There was no amount of money that could feel as good in her hand as this one crayon picture did.
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