(From Beth Kennedy, narrator of Murder at the PTA, written by Laura Alden.)
“Mom, did you make any resolutions?” Jenna asked.
I put down the two socks I was holding -- no match, try again -- and looked at my 10-year-old daughter. “You mean New Year’s resolutions?”
As today was the 20th of January, the question seemed odd. “Why?”
She shrugged. “Just wondered.”
While the heap of laundry in front of me required attention, it didn’t preclude studying my overly-casual offspring. No child of sound mind stayed within chore-assigning range on a Saturday morning without a good reason. Next step in today’s mothering duties: figuring out what was on Jenna’s mind.
“Back when I was your age,” I said, “my Mom and Dad always wrote down their New Year’s resolutions.”
“Uh-huh.” She sidled closer. “What kind of resolutions were they?”
Fictional ones, I thought. “Dad was always planning to build something. One year he built a shed.” True enough. “And one summer he made us a tree fort.” Also true. “Mom’s were more like….” Think, Beth, think. “Make a quilt. Or read War and Peace.”
Jenna nodded. “Their resolutions never had anything to do with you or your sisters and brother?”
Ah-hah. Now we were getting down to the nitty gritty. “Maybe once or twice. Do you have a resolution you’d like me to make?”
“Well….” She put her hands on the washing machine and, with a kick and an ‘oomph,’ hauled herself up. “Oliver and I were wondering. If maybe, um--” She thumped the washing machine with her heels “--if you could tell us more about Mr. Garrett. Like if he’s going to come around more.” Thump, thump. “Stuff like that.”
The small tee-shirt I held suddenly became too heavy to hold. My hands dropped to the counter. How could I not have known that the kids were worried about my relationship with Evan Garrett? Their father and I had only been divorced just over a year. Their world had been turned topsy-turvy, and here I was adding another loop in the ride. I’d talked to them about Evan numerous times, but clearly it hadn’t been enough, and just as clearly, I’d missed the signals that they were concerned.
Bad mother. Bad Beth.
But this wasn’t the time to beat myself over the head. That could wait until the children were asleep.
“You know what?” I asked.
Jenna shook her head.
“This could be the perfect time for a couple of late New Year’s resolutions.” I stood straight and put my right hand on my heart. “Today I resolve to keep both my children completely informed about any change in my love life. Resolved; to talk to them openly and honestly about Mr. Garrett, or any other man who comes into my life. Into our lives.” Shoulders squared, I saluted Jenna with a flourish. “I’ll write that down and put it on the fridge. Okay?”
My daughter’s face lost its faint bleakness. She grinned at me. “Okay.” She slid down from the washing machine, headed out the door, then spun around and came back. Flinging her arms around my waist, she said, “I love you, Mom.”
I coughed down the lump in my throat. “Love you, too, sweetie. Lots and lots and lots.”
And I always would.