“Well, I didn’t really tell him.” I lifted my feet onto the coffee table and crossed my ankles. “I was running errands and forgot my phone. He intercepted the appointment reminder call from the doctor’s office.”

“Oh, shit,” she said in a low tone.

“Yep. And when I got home, everything just kind of exploded.” I spent the next several minutes filling her in on our fight and the last couple of days of radio silence.

“Michelle, you should have called me. I would have gone to the doctor with you.”

“It really wasn’t that big of a deal,” I said, half lying. The appointment really wasn’t a big deal, but I would have loved for someone to be at the ultrasound with me, sharing in my excitement—and my tears as I drove home alone.

“What can I do for you? You have to let me do something.”

“Nothing. Really. I’m fine.”

“When is your next doctor appointment?”

“In a month.”

“Will you at least let me go with you to that?” she asked as if she had read my mind. “I don’t want you going to your doctor appointments alone.”

“Fine,” I agreed. “But you have to promise to turn around during my weigh-ins.”

She let out a loud chuckle. “Girl, you’re talking to someone who delivered two five-pound babies at once. You don’t even want to know how much weight I gained with that pregnancy.”

We chatted for a few more minutes until Matthew came running back into the room. “Moooooom, you said we would go to the park today.”

“Oh, crap,” I mumbled.

“What?”

“I totally forgot that I told Matthew I’d take him to the park today. Think he’d go for a nap instead?”

“Good luck with that one. They never forget anything.” She laughed again. “Call me later.”

We hung up and I stared at Matthew, who had his hands clasped together and was giving me puppy dog eyes.

“The park, huh?” I sighed, already exhausted just thinking about it.

He nodded excitedly.

“Okay, let’s go see if Maura is awake, and if she is, we’ll go for a little while.”

He threw his hands in the air in celebration and sprinted up the stairs.

 

“Good morning, Mrs. Klein!” Matthew waved to our neighbor as we made our way down the driveway. I gave her a wave, too, silently begging her not to come over. She was a wonderful lady, but her husband worked out of town during the week, and once she started chatting with you, any plans you had for the next hour would be canceled. I gave her a quick wave and hustled down the sidewalk toward the park.

A moving van was parked across the street, and Matthew’s eyes lit up when he saw Gavin bouncing a basketball on the front porch.

“Mom! Can we go say hi?” he asked as he bounced up and down.

“Sure.” I nodded.

He wrapped his hand around the edge of the stroller like he was supposed to and we crossed the street.

“Hi, Gavin!” he yelled before we even hit the driveway.

Gavin looked up and waved excitedly, running over to meet us. “Hi! We’re moving in today. Wanna see my new room?”

Matthew’s face swung up to mine with crinkled, begging eyebrows.

“Fine, but just for one minute.” He turned and sprinted across the yard. “And take your shoes off in their house!” I called after him.

They barreled through the garage and into the house, almost knocking over Joel, who was on his way out. “Whoa!” he yelled and moved off to the side as they zoomed by. He looked out and saw me on the sidewalk. “Hey!”

I waved and he walked over.

“Move-in day, huh?” I asked.

“Yeah.” He glanced at the truck and back at me, his clear blue eyes catching me off guard again. “I don’t have too much left. Hopefully it doesn’t take all night. You don’t realize how much crap you’ve accumulated until you try and fit it all into one box truck.”

I laughed and nodded. “Ain’t that the truth.”

Before we could get another word out, the front door swung open, smacking against the brick wall, and Matthew and Gavin came flying out on the lawn.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Joel called out. “Let’s not break the house before we’ve even finished moving in, okay?”

“Hey, Mom, can Gavin come to the park with us?” Matthew asked as he panted for air.

“Um . . .” I glanced from him to Joel. “It’s okay with me if it’s okay with his dad.”

“Dad, can I? Pleeeeeeeease?” Gavin dropped to his knees and pressed his hands together.

Joel sighed and looked over at me. “You really want an extra kid?” he asked under his breath.

I shrugged. “It’s totally fine. And honestly, he’ll keep Matthew busy, which means I’m not spending my time running back and forth between two kids alone.”

“Okay, well it’s fine by me then.” He turned toward Gavin, who was jumping up and down with Matthew. “Gavin, you behave, got it?”

Gavin’s grinning face nodded up at his dad and the boys took off down the sidewalk.

“Ah, ah! Wait for me,” I called out. “Guess I better go.”

Joel gave me a small grin and a nod as I hurried after the boys.

 

The park by our house was one of my favorite things about our subdivision. It had a huge wood castle that spanned the entire side of the park, with a shaky chain drawbridge, hanging tire obstacle course, and tons more. It also had an area for littler kids where Maura loved to play. Having Gavin there to play with Matthew really was more of a treat for me. Not only did he have the best time ever, but he was so preoccupied with Gavin that it left me some time to focus on just Maura.

She laid her head back against the baby swing as I pulled it from the front and let go. Her eyes stared up at the blue sky, her blond curls peeking out from under her hat and blowing in the wind. Life had been so hectic lately that it seemed I’d just been going through the motions to get from the beginning of the day to the end, but while I stood there, watching my sweet girl on the swing, nothing else mattered.

As she swung toward me, I quickly reached out and squeezed her chubby thigh. It was her most ticklish spot, and she rewarded me with a deep, throaty giggle.