It’s a warm winter afternoon when they land in Los Cabos. Michael pushes Ava’s stroller through the airport, and Heather slips on her new black plastic Gucci sunglasses. A green indicator light at customs becomes a sign of good things to come. Signs. Her youthful pragmatism is gone. She once allowed a stranger to suspend her wedding ring with string over her twelve-week pregnant belly to foretell the gender of her unborn child. The prediction was correct and with each passing year Heather found herself sharing old-wives tales with her children: “An apple a day,” “Don’t swallow your gum, it will stay in your stomach forever.” Sometimes, these sayings are the only things that she can hold onto. Motherhood has made her superstitious.
Now, Dylan and Kaitlin run past a horde of men wearing starched beige uniforms, selling timeshares and tours.
“I want to go parasailing,” Dylan says.
“We’ll see,” Heather replies and thinks that she means it. The stress of suburban life in America feels like it’s melting away under the hot Mexican sun. Maybe they can escape the recession and move here, she thinks, at least the children will learn Spanish. The family climbs into a white van blaring Ranchero music. Ava giggles in Heather’s lap. The child car seat seems like a useless foreign apparatus. All of their usual routines and demands are disappearing. Heather looks out of the window at the ocean meeting the desert in perfect harmony. Maybe every day can be exactly this. Suddenly, she’s eager for a poolside strawberry margarita.
When they arrive at the hotel it’s exactly what she thought it would be. Its practical affordability makes it highly unlikely that she will run into anyone she knows from the Palisades. This is exactly the type of vacation she needed. No one will know her. Ava can drink undiluted apple juice out of a bottle and Dylan and Kaitlin can argue loudly at the pool. She hadn’t realize that she’d been craving anonymity and escape until now. They quickly change into bathing suits. At the beach Ava runs toward the water with the elastic from her swim diaper hanging out of her pink suit bottom. Heather smiles and slips her hand into Michael’s. It feels nice to hold. She is grateful for the days ahead. Even his Blackberry has disappeared. The children are splashing playfully in the turquoise water. Michael gathers Ava into his arms and tosses her gently up into the air.
From the corner of her eye, Heather spots them. An overweight, lobster-colored couple holding hands and walking on the sand toward them.
It can’t be, she thinks. She removes her sunglasses, certain that she’s mistaken.
“Mom…Dad…” Michael says. Has his voice raised an octave–with pleasure?
Heather feels her body tighten as she watches her husband embrace his parents on the beach.
“What are you doing here?” he asks.
Isn’t that the obvious question? She steps forward to reluctantly hug her beaming in-laws.
“Surprise!” they say.
That’s an under statement, she thinks.
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a completely fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or families.