"I am the worst mother ever!" The thought ran over and over in mind as I frantically searched the crowd for my son.
Evan had been through so much with the divorce and his father’s subsequent absence from his life. He’d been so excited about the town carnival. “Everyone is going to be there, Mom,” he had said just this morning. Tears came to my eyes. He was right beside me and a second later he was gone.
“Please, he’s only seven years old,” I whispered to myself. What if someone took him?
“Over here, Mom!”
A waterfall of relief washed through me at the sound of his voice. I turned to see my boy riding on the shoulders of a very tall man. Shuffling through the crowd, I nearly knock down another woman. Add pushy to the list of my many faults.
As I reached Evan my nerves began to settle - a little. “Are you okay?” I still heard the panic in my voice.
“Gosh, Mom, I’m fine.”
I then became aware of my son’s rescuer still waiting for me to acknowledge him. Worst mother, pushy, and now rude. But the man didn’t seem to notice any of those things. His smile was kind and understanding. His deep brown eyes reminded me of the brownies I baked this morning. “Thank you so much.”
“No problem.” The man swung Evan off his shoulders and placed him gently on the ground. Evan giggled.
My attention returned to my little runaway. “This is not a laughing matter, young man.” I automatically ran my hands down his little frame to make sure he was really okay.
“What’s the matter, Mom? I told you I was going over to see Matt and his Dad.”
I didn’t hear you.” For the first time I noticed Matt standing next to the man. “Hi, Matt.” I tried to sound calm as not to frighten the boy with my lingering hysteria. I looked back up at his father. “And you must be Matt’s dad.”
“That’s my claim to fame.” He smiled. “But please call me Kevin.” He held out his hand.
I laughed and reached out. “I’m Kathy.”
The contact of our hands sent a little shiver through me. If I remembered right Matt’s dad was also divorced.
“Thanks again.” What must he think of me, losing my son like that? Embarrassed, I tried to make light of it. “There goes my Mom of the Year Award.” His laughed warmed me and made me feel instantly better.
“Somehow I doubt that. Matt tells me you bake the best chocolate chips cookies ever.”
“She does,” piped in Evan.
“Besides,” Kevin added, “in the last week alone I forgot to give Matt lunch money and was late picking him up twice. So I won’t be winning Dad of the Year any time soon.”
Wow, he really did know how to make a mom feel better.
“Well, if the tree house you built Matt earns you any points then I’d say you’re a shoo in,” I said.
He laughed again. I felt a blush bloom on my face. Wow, he really knew how to make a woman feel special.
“Mom, let's go on the roller-coaster!”
“Yeah, Dad, let's go!”
“Oh no, you three go. I draw the line at roller- coasters.”
“Ah, come on, Mom, it’s a baby one.”
“But still a roller-coaster. I’m more of a cotton candy type of girl.”
“That’s my type of girl,” said Kevin. By the look on his face I could tell he didn’t mean to let that slip out.
The cotton candy stand was right next to the ride. I watched the boys stand in line while Kevin ordered. He came back and handed me one.
I smiled, he smiled.
The boys were now getting on the ride. As I took a piece of the luscious confection, I wondered about Kevin. He seemed like a great guy; why would his wife leave him?
“She needed to find herself.”
“Oh.” Did he read my mind or did it show on my face?
“Do you need to find yourself?”
“I’m not lost.”
As the ride began we waved at the boys. I turned to Kevin and almost laughed at the sight of him. So very male, except for the pink cotton candy he held. I felt like I could tell him anything.
“He felt trapped,” I confessed about my ex-husband. “Are you claustrophobic?”
We talked a bit about we did, about our kids, and about our plans for the summer.
“You know I’m thinking that we could team up,” he said.
“You can help me with my mom skills and I could help you with your dad skills. Maybe over dinner? Tomorrow night?”
The ride was over and the boys ran to us. “Can I have some, Mom?”
“Yeah, me too, Dad. Remember what you said? Sharing is caring.”
“That sounds like Dad of Year to me,” I said to Kevin. “But you boys can’t have anything to eat until after you’re done with the rides."
“And that sounds like Mom of the Year to me.”
The boys looked at each other. “Oh, no, they’re ganging up on us,” said Matt.
"More like working together," said Kevin.
The boys groaned but I thought together sounded great.
About the Author: Liz likes to describe herself as a mild manner accountant by day and romance writer by night. She is 23 years married and is a VPM (very proud mom) of one son, who at the age of 22 has graduated from college and is working as a news producer. Liz got the idea for this story from the many times over the years when she said "There goes my Mom of the Year Award." Check out her blog at http://taoofliz.blogspot.com