Morning snuck up on me like a rabid ninja and I wanted nothing more than to crawl in my bed and never come out. I got up started breakfast, got everything ready for the kids and then sounded the alarm. They descended upon me like a pack of wild dogs and finished their breakfast before I could blink. I had them all ready to go when I remembered that I didn’t turn my phone back on. I smiled at how panicked the guys would have become as I listened to beep after beep on my phone. Laura looked at me with her eyebrow raised.
“Mom, what did you do?” She looked shocked that I was smiling.
I giggled. “Well ya see, they figure that we need help so I sent them a message last night and then turned off my phone. I think that I worried them though.”
She looked at the van and then back at me. “I think you did too and I think that is why there are six oversized guys around the van.”
I quickly looked over and tried to stifle my smile. Bradley came over to me, put his hand on my shoulder before he spanked me like a naughty kid. I heard all the kids take a deep breath that turned into a gasp before he quickly stepped back. “Don’t worry us like that, we thought something happened to you damnit.”
I walked up to Bradley, my smile completely gone. “You watch your mouth around these children, we don’t use that language now do we?” I grabbed his ear and yanked him down to my height. “Consider that smack your free pass, touch my ass again and I will smear you all over this wall. If you drew the short straw, well consider this a life lesson.”
I heard Laura start to snicker until I looked in her direction, then it became a cough. I moved the guys out of the way and started to load up the kids then I turned around. “I am going to take them to school, then I will meet you on base. I will tell you one more time, I don’t do charity and I never will. Now excuse me or we are all going to be late.”
They stepped out of the way and Parker put his hand on Bradley’s shoulder before he looked at me. “Hey, brother’s prerogative to punish the sister for stress, but I think you just scared this Marine to death.”
I shrugged my shoulders, got into the van and backed up. I watched the looks on their faces before I tore out of my parking spot like a bat out of hell. I got them all off to school as quickly as I could and the headed all the way across town to the base, making it with only ten minutes to spare before they had to leave. The six of them sat huddled in a group, their hands together like they were praying. I smiled to myself before I dove into the middle of them forcing them to catch me.
Andrew hugged me tight. “We thought we had made you too mad to come say goodbye. We were only messing with you.” I nodded and hugged him back as I put a note in his pocket and he put a key in my hand. I looked at him for a minute. “It’s a family home and too big for just the six of us, my family had a thing for the extravagant and we need someone to watch the house while we are gone. The whole first floor is yours except for dinner and video game time. Before you ask, it isn’t charity, I really need you to watch over my house.”
I nodded and put the key in my pocket before I hugged Jordan, Bradley, Dewayne and Tyson. Parker stood back and waited for the rest of them to talk to me. I did the same for each one putting a slip of paper into their pocket as I hugged them. Parker put his hand out and I smiled as I placed the slip of paper into his hand and he grabbed me hugging me tight. “Remember I promised that everything would be okay. You are our friend and we kill for our friends, pack up your things stay at the house and know that when we come home, you are still welcome to stay there. We talked it over last night, and next month you will be getting some papers in the mail to sign and send back to us, please do it.”
I nodded and squeezed the breath out of him before I let him go as the buses came into sight. I felt the tears start as the white buses opened their doors and I pictured Harley stepping on to them, the last time I saw him alive. Each one grabbed my hand and said goodbye before they made their way to the buses.
I wasn’t sure how long I stood there, but by the time I came back to myself, my head was reeling and my phone was ringing. I looked at the caller ID to see Laura’s picture.
Laura* Momma, help, please help my water broke.
The pain in her voice brought me fully to my senses.
Me* I am on my way love, call the Nanny to pick up the other kids, I will be there in ten minutes.
Laura* Okay momma, please hurry.
I hung up the phone and made a beeline for my van. I drove like a nascar racer the whole way back to the apartment and saw her being loaded into the ambulance. I rushed over to her and held her hand. “Baby you will be alright, Momma is here. I am going to follow behind the ambulance okay, so you just do what they tell you to do and I will hold you soon, alright baby?”
She nodded as she was told to breathe. I watched as they belted her to the gurney and raced away to the hospital with me not far behind her. My mind was in every which direction as I worried about Laura and Claudia. As I pulled into the Emergency Department parking lot I rushed to get inside. As I got to her side they were already telling her to push. I held her hand as she bore down. Tears streamed down her face as she screamed at the top of her lungs.
“One more push Laura, one more and she is here.” The doctor smiled at her as I felt her prepare to push. Her hand gripped mine tightly and she screamed in pain. I heard the doctor laugh, the baby cry and Laura gripped me tightly. I looked at her and smiled before I kissed her on the head.
“You did it, and so quickly too. Laura I am so proud of you. She’s here, your little Claudia is here.”
Laura looked at me for a moment then at the baby they were placing in the incubator. She started to look at me scared. “Momma what’s wrong with her? Why are they sticking her in that thing? Did I do something wrong?”
I shook my head. “No baby, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s an incubator, she is two months early so they are going to have to keep a watch on her for a while. She is in the best place right now. Just rest my dear, I promise you will be able to see her soon.” I smiled at her. “You know you couldn’t have given me a better birthday gift than that.”
I saw realization in her eyes. “Oh momma, I completely forgot your birthday is next week. I am so sorry momma.”
I shook my head. “No my dear, it is fine, you have given me the best gift ever, and I also have a gift for all of you kids. I am excited to take you there once you are able to get home, now get some rest dear and the surprise will be ready when we are.” I kissed her head and smiled as I pulled my phone out of my pocket to call the house. The Nanny answered the phone with a flourish and I could hear laughter in the background.
Nanny* Ross and Reynolds residence, Nanny McPhee speaking
I giggled at her reference.
Me* I just wanted to let you guys know that Claudia Faye Reynolds was born twenty minutes ago she was 2lbs 3oz and about 14inches long.
I heard her squeal with delight.
Nanny* That is wonderful, tell Laura congrats and congrats to you too grandma.
I groaned and laughed at the same time.
Me* Well you had to remind me didn’t ya? I might be home tonight because I actually have to go to a staff meeting tomorrow before I go to class. If I get the chance I will take them to school, but things are about to pickup and here soon we are going to be moving, but please don’t tell the kids, I want it to be a surprise.
I heard her close a door.
Nanny* You aren’t leaving town are you, cause I would miss your munchkins so much.
Me* Nope, not leaving town, just upgrading so I can do work and school more efficiently. A few friends are overseas for a while and invited us to stay there even after they get back. Apparently there are ten bedrooms on the bottom floor and they are all ours so each kid gets their own and I get an office. I thought it would be a good pick me up for the kids and they could help me redecorate.
I heard her clapping her hands and giggling.
Nanny* That is wonderful. I promise, not a word from me. I will take the horde to school and daycare, you make your meeting and start to move things over. I will try to keep them busy as possible, how does that sound?
Me* Sounds great, listen I have to get going please let them all know that I love them and everything is going to be okay.
Nanny* Will do, you enjoy your new granddaughter.
I hung up the phone and smiled to myself. I went back into Laura’s room and saw her fast asleep. The nurse came in and smiled at me and went to speak. I put my finger to my lips and pointed outside. As we got outside the door I smiled at her. “So how is our Claudia doing?”
The nurse smiled at me and nodded. “She is doing much better than someone who is almost full term. Are you sure that she is a preemie?”
I nodded. “I went with her for the ultrasound when they told her how long she had left to go. Are you saying that her lungs are fully developed already?”
She nodded. “I want to keep her for about a week to observe her, but it seems that she is going to be just fine.”
I nodded. “Good, can you do me a favor, I have to go check something out and I was wondering if you could tell Laura that I will be right back.”
She smiled at me. “Of course I will. She is in good hands here, you don’t have to worry about that.”
I looked at the nurse one more time before I left. I pulled the key from my pocket and read the address that was on the tag, plugged it into my GPS and followed the directions until I got to the huge gated mansion. I flipped the tag over and punched in the code for the gate and then drove in. I was in awe at the sheer size of the place and wondered why they were marines if they could live in a place like this.
I parked in the large circular driveway and made my way up to the front door. I took a deep breath as I turned the key and opened the door, and then I began to laugh. There were clothes everywhere and I was surprised that they could tell what belonged to whom. I walked throughout the house until I got a feel for the layout. I smiled as I came to the back door and saw a beautiful swimming pool. I knew it was going to get a lot of use with my bunch of heathens and hopefully even more so when the guys got back. I walked outside and saw a huge apartment out back. I opened the door to see a huge laundry room with three sets of washers and dryers. I giggled since it was defiantly going to come in handy with the amount of people in the house.
I walked back inside and into the kitchen to see two oversized fridges and laughed, I was going to have a blast in the kitchen. I saw an envelope with my name on it and opened it to see Andrew’s handwriting staring back at me.
Why Aloha do you ask, well isn’t this paradise, between the bedrooms, the kitchen, laundry room (yes I knew you couldn’t resist) and every other amenity that your family may ever need. Now before you drop off the key and lock the door how about I tell you a little about our plan (You know you want to know). Parker, Jordan, Tyson, Brad, Dewayne and I all had a long discussion and we know that your life centers around those children. So now we are taking it upon ourselves to give you everything you need to spend as much time with them as possible. This also includes a way to fuck over the military so that they have no choice but to give you what you need. How you may ask, well that is easy. We all drew straws and found out who would be the best to help you and well, I get the privilege or affliction (or however you see it) to ask you a question that will not only set you up for life, but those children as well. So I am going to ask you this and you can laugh in my face when I call, tell me no, hell no or even if you feel you are up for this plan, yes. So Sidonie, would you do me the honor of being my wife in name as I know you aren’t looking for someone to replace the love you feel for your husband. I want you to understand that even if you do say yes, I want you to keep YOUR wedding band on since it is him who will always have your love and I wouldn’t want it any other way. If it isn’t me you are interested in, that is fine as well, and you can ask any of us. We hold no illusions on where your heart lies we just want you to get what you deserve for the rest of your life and the lives of those children. We hope to call not long after we get there but you know how these things go and it could take weeks for us to call. Hell you never know I could call as soon as you are done with this letter. Think it over Sid and know that no matter your decision, we trust your judgment completely.
I read the letter over and over and over and over again only to have more questions than answers. My phone rang and I answered it without looking, thinking that it was Laura.
Me* Stressed out Psycho Mom’s Club, Head nutter speaking.
I heard a masculine laugh
Andrew* Well that is a way to answer the phone. How are you doing?
Me* Well you guys left about four hours ago and in that time I became a grandmother, got proposed too and now I think you are stalking me virtually.
Andrew laughed again and I smiled to myself.
Andrew* How about this, I promise I am not stalking you, I just wanted to see how things were going and Yay Grandma. How are Laura and the baby?
Me* The baby is doing much better than Laura, but she is in the stressed out new mommy club. I am giving her the chance to renege on our deal about me taking over as mommy. I am hoping that when she holds Claudia for the first time, she will feel what I did with Celeste and Scott.
Andrew* I can understand, but with her being so young she may not be ready for that type of thing and then you will make an awesome mommy again. No matter what know that there are six marines that will always have your back. Now while I am on the phone do you need anything?
I thought for a second.
Me* I am going to rattle a list off to you and figure out if you have everything. Food, laundry soap, broom, dustpan, laundry baskets, internet, a desk, home phone service, a decorating service and labels in all the clothes that are on the floor.
Andrew hooted with laughter.
Andrew* There is a black credit card with no limit on it that my mother gave me. Run it up as much as you want and do whatever you need to. If she calls the house tell her that you are my fiancé and you had to get some things for the house since I had to leave on ERD. She will come bug you, but if you decide not to go through it with me, then you can wait till we get back and tell her it didn’t work out. She is pretty laid back for a rich bitch. Now we have to board our next flight so we will call and write when we can. Give the kids a hug and kiss for me and the rest.
Me* Will do and you all better stay safe Marine, do you hear me.
Andrew* Yes Ma’am
The line went dead and I felt the fear take me over. I started to get things cleaned up and put to rights when the house phone rang. I could tell that I wasn’t going to get any work done before I had to get back to Laura in the hospital.
Woman* Uh hi I think I have the wrong number I am looking for Andrew, my son.
Me* Hi, oh goodness you are Andrew’s mother. I’m sorry to tell you but he got Emergency Readiness orders and deployed about four hours ago.
Woman* I am sorry if I sound rude, but what are you doing in his house?
Me* I am Andrew’s fiancé; he gave me the key to move in when him and his friends left today. I thought he would have called you to let you know.
Woman* No he doesn’t like to stress me out, so he usually waits until he gets there. My name is Madi by the way.
I put my hand over my mouth.
Me* I am so sorry for my lack of manners, my name is Sidonie. Well, it’s Sid for short, no one uses Sidonie unless I am in trouble.
Madi* Well it is wonderful to meet you Sid. For you to have captured the heart of my son you have got to be something special.
I giggled again a bit hysterically.
Me* I am something alright. I am sorry to have to cut this call short, but I have to go check on my eldest at the hospital.
Madi* Oh my, well please don’t let me stop you. I will have to drop by sometime and meet you and your children. By eldest I figured you had more than one.
I sighed and realized I had better drop the shoe.
Me* I have eight. Well seven and a granddaughter that was born today. Andrew just called and I told him that Claudia had been born. He also told me to tell you that I need to pick up some things for the house and told me that I was to tell you I needed to use the black card.
I heard silence on the other end of the phone.
Me* Are you there?
Madi* Yes so sorry was trying to get over the number of kids.
Me* Yes it is a shock at first, but they are wonderful kids. I really can’t delay any longer I need to get back to my daughter. Drop by and see us anytime.
Madi* Yes, I think I will. Have a good day.
I hung up the phone with a huff, grabbed my keys from the table and locked up the house before I left and closed the gate behind me. I rushed back to the hospital to see Laura holding on to Claudia and I smiled.
“Nothing like it, is there?”