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17. Sisters, Sisters, There Were N

16. It Starts With a Tight-End and

15. Uber-Mom

14. Zoe Puts 2 and 2 Together and

13. At Least Zoe Seems to Be Proce

12. Putting the Melo-drama in Mela

11. Zoe's Panties Are in Quite the

10. Alright People, Let's Do This

9. Is Anyone Married in Lakepoint

8. What a Way to Make a Living

7. The Very Rare Instance in Whic

6. The world around them begins t

5. Zoe's Mom: Things get 'easier'

4. Zoe's in Big Trouble Now

3. Stone Might Have Overdone on '

2. Jon and Zoe might be a bit dif

1. You Are What You Wish

Zoe's Mom: A Meeting of the Moms

avatar on 2024-07-10 23:54:38

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“Sandy Marie Gibson, in the flesh and not wearing a bra! That certainly is a choice! But how are you? You’re looking good! And I love those jeans! We’re definitely going to have to go thrift store shopping again soon, you always have the best luck when it comes to finding something cute from the racks. Mwah, mwah!” Linda pulled him in, with a quick squeeze and kissing cheek to cheek in a sisterly and familiar way. She pulled Jon to what must be their usual outdoor table and a waiter must have already picked up on this cue, having coffees and sparkling lemon water ready for the both of them. “I read that the carbonation is supposed to help with digestion and weight loss,” Linda chimed in while spritzing her water with a healthy dose of lemon juice. “Oh, and waiter! Could you take this half and half back and fetch us some oat milk instead?”

This was new. The Linda in front of was a completely different person than the mother he had left behind days and a few wishes prior. She had no need to worry about carbonation or a few extra creamer calories. This woman was put together with curled hair and full makeup. She was in great shape- fit with slim, toned arms and a fantastic neckline. It was actually a little bit frustrating seeing this new, improved version of Linda. It wasn’t like his mom was obese or anything before, she just had a body that showed all the obvious signs of three childbirths. But now, her hips were much thinner, her calves toned, her chest was manageable, she looked like a runner where Jon was stuck wearing every inch and then some of Linda’s evaporated motherhood.

And Jon’s frustrations with Linda didn’t end with the differences between their figures. While being a wonderful source of exposition about a lot of the details of Sandy’s life that had been nagging at the fringes of his mind, she made it impossible to get a word in edgewise. His worries for what he would say or having nothing to talk about with his new sister proved to be a complete waste.

Jon learned about ‘the breakup’. Unfortunately for Sandra but fortunately for Jon, this life had very recently gotten out of a relationship instead of having another awkward hurdle to navigate. He received some much needed sisterly dating advice to go along with this ‘good man’ he had seemingly left in the dust. “You can’t keep waiting for Mr. Perfect. Some times you need to just settle for Mr. Right for Now. Like what was so wrong about Glen? You can’t be too picky at our age, especially you, Sands, you’ve always gone on and on about wanting a big family and I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that clock is ticking. I’d just hate to see my baby sister become an empty nester or worse, go absolutely baby crazy and end up with some total loser. You’re not built like me, I know you hate being single. Always have. I’m just tired of seeing my favorite person struggle with trying to be like me and being a mother on her own when there’s help out there if she adjusts her expectations just a little bit.”

She weighed in with some fitness and dietary tips once the menus came out and it was time to order- “Have you considered switching to egg whites instead? Tastes pretty much the same and they’re way lighter on the calories. Or have you tried gluten free bread? It’s not as tasty but anything is better than letting those carbs have a direct pipeline to those hips. I know big butts are ‘cool’ right now, but a little trimming wouldn’t hurt and do your really want that to be the first and last thing people think about you? I also started drinking these shakes I bought from Crystal at them gym that use this new NutriPowder. You have to try it. They’re really tasty and I feel like the pounds are melting off during my workouts and I feel so much more energetic. The company also gave me this cellulite firming cream as a promotional gift that’s supposed to work wonders. I have it packed with dad’s stuff since I don’t really need it and I know you’ve mentioned feeling self-conscious about those dimples with bathing suit season coming up and all.”

There was the all important career advice over breakfast- “You know, part of attracting the right type of man is bringing your own assets to the table. I know you say you love your job and it’s just a way to build clients for your photography business to get off the ground, but don’t you think any man worth his salt is wondering why a woman in her thirties is still working at the mall, with teenagers? Seriously, come work the phones at the office for me, just temporarily, while you finish nursing school or that cosmetology license or psychology degree or any of those things you started and only got halfway through before bailing on. At least it’s a more respectable career than folding bras and panties for a living.”


Therapist Linda also checked in around the second cup of coffee, dishing out that all important mental health advice- “I’m just glad we got to get together and you didn’t go completely dark on me again. Even though you said you broke it off with him, I know it’s still really affecting you. You’re a sensitive soul and I love you for it. But ordering pancakes, going out without makeup, not wearing a bra, we never see you at church anymore- I can tell there’s still something deeper, really bothering you and it pains for me to see you like this. We both know what happened after your other break ups. There was the belly button piercing, that tattoo, or how all that stress had you ballooning up after ‘the big one.’ I just don’t want you to go through all that again. Little breakup or not, I want my baby sister to know I’m here for her and we got this.”

And if Jon had any concern about how Linda was doing, don’t worry, she made it very well known how great things were going in her life. She had just closed another escrow, Michael nearly had straight A’s, she was getting ready to start hiring contractors for the re-model of her kitchen, she was down two pounds despite going out to eat all week with clients, and her love life was amazing. Jon was lucky enough to catch her in-between partners and Linda wasn’t interested in re-hashing old conquests, but just the way she teased some of the details had Jon’s stomach becoming increasingly queasy at the thought of imagining his mom in the bedroom playing the seductress.

Instead, she spent her time building up the new man that had entered her cross hairs. “I see him at the gym all the time and I’ve caught him eyeing me up more than once. I know he’s caught me a couple times returning the favor because that boy is one fine slab of man. Pretty sure he works as a mechanic because he’s always coming in with these greasy arms, which is, so hot. He has that natural, earned strength, not that fake ‘personal trainer’ body that always covers up some shallow man on the inside. You can tell he’s different. We even a good long chat at the juice bar too and he’s pretty funny. I’m thinking he’s working up the courage to ask me out, but I can’t remember his friggin’ name. Think it was Leroy or something. You probably know him, Zoe’s name came up, he said his daughter was a cheerleader although I don’t know if that narrows it down-”

“You mean Liam? Liam Black?” Jon stammered, nearly spilling is coffee at this weird intersection.

“Yeah, that’s the one! God, doesn’t he just have the sexiest forearms? Shop guys always have them. Can you imagine them, all sweaty, gripping my wrists-”

“Uh, sorry sis, gotta go use the restroom,” Jon quickly sprung up from the table and exited from the outdoor dining area as quickly as his wide bottom would allow him to dance and turn through the tight gaps between tables, chairs, and servers.

There was a line built up outside the women’s room in this kitschy cafe because of course there was and Jon took his place in queue with the other mostly female patrons that had the time and schedule to be brunch regulars. So mostly moms. Other moms, Jon crinkled his nose and sneered a bit at another one of these frequent reminders.

This was supposed to be my day! Alone! To do what I wanted! To get back to my roots! And look how it’s working for me, just because I needed some more info about the stone.

So now I feel light headed and fuzzy and squeamish with all these details. And Linda won’t stop talking about everything that’s wrong about me. Does she think those are compliments? Does she think she’s helping? And why does she keep having to bring up my weight? I’m not that big. And what tattoo? I swear I would have noticed a tattoo! I can’t believe I left my freaking purse on the table because maybe then I could at least put on a little lip gloss and get her to shut up about something! I mean, crap, was I supposed to invite her to the bathroom with me? Do girls do that even when it’s just the two of them? I hope I don’t have to hear about that too.

I know I shouldn’t care, I know I’m not Sandra, but she’s so far under my skin and just so flustered! And it’s not enough that I suck, she really has to make it a point of how great her freaking life is without me and Zoe. Were we really holding her back that much? I’ve never seen her act like this before, she’s certainly never talked to me this way before, but now she’s a total psychopath of passive aggression. Maybe Zoe wasn’t over-exaggerating some of those stories, maybe she did have a reason to be so frustrated with her...

No, she’s not off the hook yet. Even if that first wish is a bit more excusable, she had no reason to make that second wish. Because if she didn’t, I wouldn’t be here with a headache, frustrated that I didn’t wear a bra but even more frustrated that I noticeably need a bra, feeling oh so worthless and-

“Excuse me, ma’am.” Jon blinked, having been oblivious to the woman in front of him aside for her crying baby which was only adding to his headache. Her dark hair was frizzled and pulled back into a pony tail with little springy hairs zig-zagging wildly on her scalp like she had been combing her hair with a balloon. She had youthful skin but heavy bags and dark marks under her deep blue, glazed, and very tired eyes. She wore an expression of bewilderment and exhaustion, like she had been crying or was about to cry, and seemed totally at her wits end. In a moment, with just a few words and a look, Jon understood her fears, her fatigue, her everything, resonating on her same wavelength.

“Please, ma’am,” her voice faltered. “Can you just… Can you just take him. Just for a second,” pushing her crying child into Jon’s arms before even waiting for a confirmation. “I’ll just be a minute, I’ll only need a minute.” Free of her obligation, she darted into the women’s room and rapidly turned the deadbolt as if she handed Jon a live hand grenade and not a cute blob of a baby.

A very cute baby, a very fussy baby indeed, but still a cute one. His screams and toothless wails seemed broken and near exhausted as his tiny little body struggled to find some last reservoir of energy to be miserable with. Jon just sat their and bounced the little guy, no longer annoyed or head hurting from his cries, just transfixed by the smell and beauty of his big, beautiful, hopeful, confused, and un-jaded blue eyes. His mother’s eyes, he realized, behind all her tears, those were the same eyes hid between the stress of the frantic woman now locked in the restroom. It was beautiful to see all these connections.
Then something even more beautiful- as Jon unknowingly hummed and cooed and cuddled, the storm of sadness broke and the little guy smiled at him. A big, goofy, gummy smile, just for him and his little song. His awkward, uncoordinated hands adorably pawed at his face or breasts and Jon would return the favor by pinching his adorable, chubby cheeks. He would trade a nonsense phrase in baby-talk, “Ah-abby-boo,” for the most room lighting giggle. It was so pure and such a simple joy for Jon compared to all the chaos and confusion of being Sandra.

“How… how did you get him to stop?” Jon’s tunnel focused trance was broken by the re-emergence of the exhausted mom. “I’ve been trying all day and you hold him for a few minutes and he finally stops crying. How? How did you do it?” Her voice was trembling, seemingly even more broken from Jon’s help.

“I’m not sure,” Jon admitted, quickly pushing the little one back onto his mother, feeling a bit of horror and the thrall the infant had just placed him under. “I guess, I just sort of knew.”

Jon was quickly wracked by guilt at seeing what affect his phrase had on this poor woman. With some careless wording, this woman was now punishing herself for not knowing and internally tearing herself down for not being a good mother. Jon could see and read all those thoughts plain as day because, well, they seemed all too familiar.

“But it’s not like, uh, you don’t know,” Jon stumbled, not knowing what to say but knowing he had to say something. “Because you’re doing a really great job. You really are, he’s such a happy baby. I think he was just taking his mom for granted and needed a change of face for a second,” the words were flowing from his mouth, Jon only processing what was coming out of his mouth until well after it had been said. “They even do that when they’re that little. But look at him now, he’s smiling way bigger for you than for me. You’re doing a fantastic job, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

“Thank you, you have no idea how badly I needed to hear that… It’s just been… it’s just been a lot. A lot of crying, a lot of waking up in the middle of the night.. But, oh my God, I don’t know what I was thinking! You must think I’m a terrible mom, leaving my baby with a complete stranger. You’re too sweet but you could’ve been a psycho or a kidnapper or, or-”

Or, how about, worst of all, a teenage boy playing pretend who doesn’t know a thing about babies and couldn’t be more out of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Did you ever consider that? But then again, it was pretty impressive how quickly I was able to calm him...

Jon didn’t spend too long patting himself on the back for something he wasn’t even sure he had full control over, he snapped back to the conversation, noticing someone else who needed soothing. “Don’t beat yourself up too badly. I think we’ve all been there at some point or another.” I mean, not me, but I think I get it. You’d have to be a monster not to sympathize with this poor woman.

“You’re an angel, you really are,” the woman’s sniffles being the only remaining sign of her near emotional breakdown earlier. “And I didn’t even get your name.”

“It’s… It’s Sandra.”

“Thank you again, for everything Sandra. I’m Melanie. And can I ask one more huge favor, could I please get your number? Just in case I ever need someone to talk to? I don’t really have a lot of other moms in my life.”

After reluctantly fishing out her phone from her sweater pocket and swapping numbers with Melanie, Jon found something else to bristle at besides being so carelessly lumped in again with other m-words. There were three missed calls and three accompanying voice mails from the school. It appeared Zoe couldn’t even manage to go even half a day without being sent up to the principal’s office. He would be going back to school after all.

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