In the land of Dixie
A mother rises before dawn.
She turns on a pot of coffee, lays out the bacon.
Packs three lunches, feeds two cats and a dog.
She warms a bottle for the baby,
Pulls her husband’s jeans from the dryer,
And drapes them over the ironing board.
She will wake him with a cup of Joe and a smile,
And in return he will task her with finding his other sock.
Once the elusive article of clothing has been found,
She will quicken her pace to the other side of her single-wide palace –
Tossing eggs and bacon into a pan as she goes.
Inside a tiny bedroom, she will be greeted by six arms that groggily wrap themselves
around her waist, neck, and legs like limbs branching from the family tree.
“Shhhh.” She will plead as they lumber slowly from their beds,
past the baby’s crib over to the kitchen table.
The eggs and bacon, cooked to perfection (she’s had years of practice), will find their way
to the impatient mouths that she feeds every morning,
but like most mornings –
she will not remember serving them.
Instead, her mind will be twelve steps ahead,
Trying to remember where her husband left his wallet and keys,
And going over the calendar she has hung in the back of her mind.
- Soccer and tutoring end at 6, dance begins at 6:15.
Like every Thursday, she will have thirty minutes from the time she leaves the office,
To make her way across town, pick up the baby, grab chicken for dinner,
and be at the fields on time.
“Honey, where are my keys?”
Deductive reasoning will help her narrow down her husband’s hiding places.
“Did you bring them inside?”
“Were you carrying anything?”
“Check yesterday’s pants.”
Paying them no mind,
He will walk past his children to the laundry room
As their vocal crescendo becomes a “who can yell loudest” competition.
“Dad, did you know that Mark’s dad is a firefighter?”
“Mom, can I go to Sarah’s after dance?”
“My tummy hurts.”
“Ah ha!” He’s found them.
And the hi-hat baby cries out.
“Can you get him?” she will ask her husband, hoping for time-enough to put on pants.
“Sorry, I’m already running late.” He will conclude as he pecks her on the lips.
“See you at dinner.”
With that, he will grab his pre-packed breakfast and lunch and
disappear down the long dirt road
that separates them
With a baby on her hip, the young mother will clean up after breakfast,
Hop into a pair of scrubs on one foot, and manage her hair into a falling pony-tail.
She will chase children into the bathroom to brush their teeth,
Feed the baby with one hand, and sign permission slips with the other.
She will line up back packs and lunch boxes, hoist kids into car seats, and forget her biscuit on the counter.
She won’t go back inside, for there is no time to worry about herself.
She will drop the baby at daycare, leave her oldest at the bus stop, and drive the twins to Kindergarten.
No one will tell her good morning.
No one will ask if she needs any help.
Instead her first patient will yell as she opens the office four minutes late.
This mother will work her nine to five (thirty) without a lunch break, chauffeur her children between after-school activities, conquer the quest of finding a meal-to-go, and find her husband asleep on the couch when she arrives home.
She will let him sleep as she shifts her weight on swollen feet, warming the mashed potatoes,
And creaming the corn.
The baby cries un-apologetically, the kids run every last ounce of energy from their bodies,
And only after the meal has touched the table –
does her husband sit down, to tell her all about his busy day at the lumber mill.
After dinner, the mother will chase the children into the bathroom to brush their teeth, turn down their covers, bless their pillows, and kiss their foreheads.
She will tuck them in, say prayers, read another chapter from their bedtime story, and return to the kitchen to find dishes still scattered across the table and her husband captivated by "The Hunting Channel.".
As she runs the plates under hot water, she will thank God for her “alone time.”
Her husband will thank her for dinner, and consider it payment enough.
He will make his way to the bedroom, and she will follow
Knowing that he may very well want sex before sleep.
Just one more chore for the mother of four, who is allowed - finally - to turn in at nine.
Because the sun rises early in Dixie.