Someone who understands

(scene opens in brightly lit festive face-care aisle)

Helpful Target Lady: Can I help you find anything?
Me: Yes. I woke up yesterday to discover I had teen boys covered in acne and now have to teach them a skin care regimen that’s not too girlie. There used to be a St. Ives blue clay face mask?
HTL: I haven’t seen that in a while. I can recommend some other brands if you like. How many boys do you have?
Me: Three. (Points to Delta, hiding his face) He’s the youngest. The other two are just 12 and about to hit 14. They haven’t even gotten to the serious acne age yet and we’ve already hit gross levels. Like they still stink getting out the shower.
HTL: I called those the Gangrene Years. I had five boys.
Me: (Helpless laughter, touches arm in sympathy) You are a woman of strength. There’s hope for me?
HTL: Yes. But it’s going to take a while.

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Growing up the hard way

(scene opens in parlor sweatshop)

Gamma: Mommy! What cake are we having for dinner?
Me: (around a mouthful of pins) We don’t have any cake.
Gamma: (scandalized) No cake?!? But it’s your birthday! Why don’t you have any cake!?!
Me: (Pressing seams in a cloud of scalding steam) Because no one got me a cake.
Gamma: Don’t worry mommy. I have money. I’ll go buy you a cake.
Me: (stops to contemplate if there are any cake places in walking distance) No sweetie, save your money. Adults don’t always get cake on their birthdays.
Gamma: That’s sad.

That’s not how any of it works

(scene opens in parlor sweatshop)

Gamma: Mom, how much money do you have?
Me: (tracing out patterns) Not a lot. Why?
Gamma: Well, maybe you and daddy and I could put all our money together and buy a foster child so I can have a sister.
Me: (stops tracing) That’s not how it works, sweetie.
Gamma: But I need a sister. I’m all alone in this house with all these boys. Don’t you want me to have a sister and a friend?

Please hold

(scene opens with harried mother pacing living room on the Bluetooth)

Customer Service Rep: How can I help you today?
Me: So, I had this jacket – it was a gift, so I don’t have any purchase information – and the zipper needed to be repaired and I went through your website to get the shipping/warranty to ship it back to you to fix it and I can’t find any tracking information to see if it got to you or on its way back or if its currently being repaired…..?
CSR: …..well, okay, we can look that up for you. Do you remember when you sent it in?
Me: …uh…I’m the stay home mother of four children, my sense of time is flexible.
CSR: (starts laughing)
Me: It could have been last week, could have been three weeks ago, I’m not really sure.
CSR: My 12 year old niece is living with us now. I understand. I can’t imagine how it would be with four.
Me: Thank you for not judging me.