My son, Rhett, is stuffing his feet into the wrong shoes when he asks me if I’m going to play football with him and his dad.
I’m in the hallway on the way to my office, but I pause to look at him—the familiar knots in my stomach bubbling up. “I have a few things I need to do first, okay? But I’ll try and come out when I’m done.”
He jumps up to stand on the hardwood floor.
“Your shoes are on the wrong feet, buddy,” I say, smiling.
“I know. I like ‘em that way,” he answers. Then, he turns and runs out the front door; Allie, my middle child, follows close behind.
“Wait for me, Rhett!” she yells. When she pulls her coat over her arms, several inches of her wrists show.
Rich, my husband, stands on the brown front lawn; the crisp fall air has moved in. He zips his coat, and I see him shiver while he shrugs his shoulders into the collar of his jacket. Then he tosses the football back and forth between his hands.
Rhett has a football helmet in his hand that he grabbed on the way out the door. I smile at the wedding gift—an actual football helmet from the college (to be specific, the tailgate) where my husband and I met. Rhett pulls the blue and gold helmet down over his head and rocks his head back and forth, grinning. He looks like a Bobble-Head.
Rich slaps the top of the helmet and points across the lawn, directing Rhett where to stand. Allie runs in circles, unsure where to go.
When Rich is home, I usually don’t hesitate to take the time to be alone. But right now, I feel torn when Rhett asked me to toss a ball with him, his dad, and his little sister. I glance down at Nora, our baby, who is happily babbling on her play mat on the living room floor, and I think she will be content for a few minutes, and so I decide to take the time to myself.
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