Like a hopeful future. The person I hope I remember to be.
I cringe inside, hearing my daughter screech for me from the other side of the house. My guests, my best friends from college, try to hide their own discomfort.
To lift the mood I say smoothly, “Ah, the sweet, dulcet tones of my child's voice calling my name. Sweetest music to my ears,” the mood relaxes and I call back, “I'm sorry, are you addressing room service or your mother? You know, the woman who GAVE YOU LIFE?”
Silence from the other end of the house. I'm about to explain that I've talked to my daughter about this when she appears, humble and small, but clearly with a burning question.
“Ah yes!” I feign delighted surprise. “Child whom I love more than life itself, come in!”
She comes in, Ellie Jean, my precocious 11 year old. “Mom, can I go play at Lily's house? Her mom said I could.”
“Are you chores done?”
“You know the rules. You can play at your friend's when your chores are done. Are they done?”
“Then you can mostly go to her house.”
“...what does that mean?”
“It means you can walk ¾ of the way there, then turn around and come back home to finish your chores.” I smile at my friends, both single and childless. I wonder if they envy this little exchange, or if they will remember this scene when they go to their empty apartments and be grateful they only have to take care of themselves.
“Ugh, mom. You could just say 'no.'”
“And you could just do your chores.” I smile playfully at her, “But isn't it more fun this way?”
“Whatever.” She turns on her heel and leaves, presumably to address the undone chores.
She stops, rolls her head to one side and sloooowly half-turns back to me, I can see her eyes are half-lidded. “Whaaaat?”
“I love you.”
Her pose doesn't change but she smiles. “You, too Mom.”