Autumn 4007 Eric Cox is 37, Cindy Cox is 30, Jean Cox is 13, Janessa Cox is 5, Joshua Cox is 3 last update | next update After 13 years of being responsible for children, Cindy almost can’t believe it these days when she frequently finds herself taking time for herself.
Jean isn’t difficult to convince to babysit and certainly responsible enough for it. The only thing Cindy sometimes fear is that she’ll call her boyfriend August instead of looking after Joshua and preventing him from making dangerous pranks.
But apart from that detail, which is more of a fear and less of an actual thing, Jean lets Cindy and Eric go out a few time a month and it’s a really lovely deal. Allows them both to breathe, and remember why they’ve decided to get and stay married.
It’s simpler these days to ask her to babysit her siblings because Janessa is big enough to be fairly independent, which means it’s only Joshua who requires a lot of attention.
Most days Cindy still can’t believe she’s married. To a nice, employed man who wants the best for her. It had never seemed likely to her, growing up. Marriage then had been a trap, a cage, something to complicate your way out of a horrible situation.
Eric has shown her that marriage can be a lot of other things, too, that it can be a safe haven and a constant support.
They have very little money – she’s not making a fortune as a waitress and he’s not making one as a security guard – but they manage their bills and buying clothes for their children and every once in a while they spend some of the hard-earned credits on themselves. Going out for dinner feels like a huge treat, one that she hasn’t taken for granted at any point in her life.
Lately Cindy has been expanding her little group of friends and it’s been good for them both, she gathers, because Eric worries about her sometimes, thinking she’s too much of a solitary creature, that she’s afraid to open up to others.
Which is true, granted, but it’s not something she wants to encourage in herself. But no friendship can ever feel as simple and natural as her relationship with Eric, she’s sure of it. With him it’s like there are no worries at all, she feels perfectly content and safe in his arms.
He promises her that at some point in their lives they will afford a hotel night every once in a while, to round off their date nights and Cindy smiles, assuring him that she doesn’t need those things.
“You don’t have to need things to get them, you know,” he tells her then. “Sometimes it’s okay to just want them, too.”
“Right.” She smiles at him. “I migh need some practice there.”
Two years ago it had felt like everything in their lives was about diapers and early mornings, toddler tantrums and exhaustion. Now that Janessa is older and Joshua, too, Cindy has begun to long for those sweet, tiring baby times again.
The kids are so much more manageable now and can play together for quite some time before something happens to ignite some drama between them.
Jean is very patient with them both even if Janessa manages to get under her skin from time to time, nagging about something or snooping about in her teenage sister’s personal stuff.
It’s not ideal for them to share a room when they’re so far apart in age but the house is very small and they have to squeeze them into the same little room to have enough space for a nursery for Joshua.
That, Cindy realises those times when she wants another child, is one thing on the list of cons. They just don’t have enough room.
Sometimes – most of the time, to be honest – Cindy doesn’t feel old enough to have a daughter with a boyfriend. A pretty serious boyfriend at that, serious enough to motivate one of those awkward talks that nobody ever had with Cindy when she was Jean’s age.
Of course, Jean is much smarter than Cindy ever was and merely shakes her head when her silly old mother starts lecturing her.
“I go to school, mum. We’ve had sex ed. Stop being creepy.”
“I just want to make sure you… know what to do. If you’re going to… you know.”
At the end of the day, Cindy supposes, Jean isn’t as grown up as she sometimes appear and that’s something to take comfort in.
August is a sweet kid, too, which is good to know. He’s not particularly ambitious and if she wants to find somethig to worry about, it would have to be just that. Jean is pretty serious about her football and would likely get a few scholarships to continue playing as she goes to college, but Cindy knows that love can feel like such a monumental thing when you’re a teen. Large enough to merit all sorts of sacrifice.
She’s happy that Jean is happy but she really wants her daughter to forge her own path in life instead of repeating old mistakes.
Making too big a deal of your teenage love and not focusing on your future career seems like the wrong way to go but she will just have to trust her daughter, even if it’s difficult.
And even more difficult is to build up her trust in the universe, step by step. It’s a slow but sure progress but at least now it feels like she’s finally on her way.