It’s 2:56pm and Heather races down Main Street in pink foam pedicure flip-flops. She shouldn’t have agreed to the extra ten-minute foot massage but she was so relaxed that she lost track of time. Dylan has after school tutoring but Kaitlin needs to be picked up at 3:00. She has her first All-Star Soccer practice today.
Heather gets in her car, speeds toward school and notices that she’s dangerously close to running out of gas. There’s no way that she’ll make the pick up in time. Resentfully, she pulls into the nearest gas station. It takes way too long to fill an empty SUV. After refueling she manages to hit every red light and pulls in front of school at 3:17. The teachers are already inside the brick building. Heather parks, looks down at her newly painted toenails and considers her options. Either she walks inside the school office to retrieve Kaitlin in pedicure flip-flops and looks like a mom who runs late because of a self-indulgent beauty regimen. Or, she puts her new moist grey-colored toenails into her flats, wastes 25 dollars and ruins her pedicure. Heather takes a deep breath and climbs out the car. Let them judge me.
Clouds roll in, her bare feet cold and exposed. Mary Hathaway is walking toward her in the parking lot, carrying a large monogrammed canvas tote bag with her four perfectly groomed children in line behind her like a row of little ducklings.
“One of those days,” Mary says offering Heather a patronizing smile.
“Perfect timing, actually,” Mary says. “I was hoping that you could lend some of your time to the Spring Auction Committee.” Mary stares down at Heather’s toenails.
“Sure, Heather says.
“Fantastic!” Mary exclaims and clasps her small hands together. Mary’s fingernails are natural and short. “Meet us Wednesday at Starbucks after drop off first thing in the morning.”
Heather is about to say that she isn’t driving carpool that day and therefore won’t be in the Village but finds herself nodding and feigning enthusiasm. She waves goodbye, quickly walks up the concrete steps and into the hallway. The flip-flops slide on the linoleum floor and she almost twists her ankle on her way into the front office. Kaitlin sits alone on a chair.
The office secretary looks up from her paperwork and nods at her.
“Sorry I’m late, “ Heather says.
The secretary mumbles like she’s used to these sorts of things and Heather feels herself blush.
“I swear we’ll still make your soccer practice in time,” Heather says, looking down at Kaitlin, who rolls her eyes.
“Your feet look like they belong to a corpse,” Kaitlin says, looking at Heather’s grey toenails.
Heather is equally awed and humiliated by her daughter’s vocabulary.
It feels like a miracle when they pull into soccer practice on time. Heather shoves her feet into her flats and tosses the disposable flip-flops into a trashcan on the way to the field. The pedicure has caused her enough problems.
Kaitlin holds Heather’s hand. When the coach blows his whistle, Kaitlin lets go and takes off running across the large grass field. Heather watches her daughter go and Kaitlin’s shiny blond hair flying behind her in the wind.
Heather stands to watch the practice from the sideline. Kaitlin’s face is flushed, her cheeks red, and it looks more beautiful than any blush that Heather could ever buy. This is beauty, Heather decides. And when did I become a slave to a beauty regime? I was a girl like this once, she thinks. Her interests were playing games and swinging upside down from the monkey bars. Heather removes her flats and inspects her smeared toesnails. Kaitlin’s right. The color does make her look dead.
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or events.