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What if I Hadn’t Been There to Catch Them?

I started to look for her every time I dropped off Jordan, wondering if she knew something. Maybe her child was born with a countdown — the soldier mother who knew just how much time she had, and that’s why she was sitting so intensely every morning, holding, cradling, praying, humming.

She always took the closest spot to the door, parking her tank-like car where others must go around it. Everyone else was waving, yapping, herding children into day care. Even the whiny, sobbing children got shoveled inside.

On another morning, I had a Zoom call at 9 and wasn’t ready. I had dropped off the other two children, but when I got to the day care, damn if there wasn’t a line of cars. Had the entire city overslept?

When it was finally my turn, I pulled into the space beside the giant SUV. Yes, there she was, the soldier mother, coddling her treasure. Couldn’t she see that we were all in a hurry? If she was going to have a prayer service every morning, why didn’t she park to the side to free up the spot for those of us who have somewhere to be?

“Come on, Jordan,” I said, picking him up because I didn’t have time for his dawdling. I rolled my eyes at the soldier mother.

But of course, she didn’t see me. She only had eyes for her baby.

After the daylight-saving time change, the children wouldn’t get up. Just when I thought I had cracked the morning code, the game shifted. I let Jax skip brushing his teeth and let Allie wear her pajama top to school. Jordan had the surprised look of a clown shot from a canon. I could barely function.

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Mohammad SHiblu

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