Today I was feeling good. Better.
Wednesday went smoother after I went home. I had that deserved nap, picked up Dylan hang out with him until it was time to go for work and Nana stayed with him at home. The following days I divided my time between Dylan, school and work. By Friday I felt like a zombie but after twelve hours of sleep, I am feeling much better today.
And as I had promised him, today was dedicated to him and quality time with him.
"Good Morning little devil," I whispered to a sleeping Dylan.
He stirred but didn't wake up so, I nudged him gently while whispering his name a few times. A couple of minutes after he groaned and opened one eye to look up at me.
"I'm sleepy, mommy."
"I know, but guess what day is today?" I asked him.
"We're going to the park!" I said with excitement.
His head snapped up and his eyes widened.
Of course, he had forgotten.
I shake my head in amusement while he gets up. He's clumsy but his excitement doesn't let the clumsiness get the best of him. Noticing the set of clothes, I had left prepared the previous night he starts to get dressed by himself.
Dylan and his desire to be a grown-up.
The thought makes me chuckle lightly, some things really run in one's genes. This boy is so genuine it hurts and the most ironic thing is that he's nothing like me at all. He's brave and impulsive, he's got spunk and a lot of attitudes. So much sometimes I have to downplay it and it was hard at the beginning but I got it right, eventually.
He's respectful especially with me and that fact makes me breathe in relief. There are too many men out there that don't respect women and boundaries and I'll be damned if my son is one of them.
"Momma, how do I look?" He asks.
Slowly, he's getting better and better at getting dressed by himself. The few things he can't really do by himself is tying his shoes, sometimes he struggles with closing his jeans' buttons but that's as far as it goes. He loves to be independent and even though it makes my heart tug, I love to see it.
Seeing him grow up is just marvellous.
"You look, handsome baby, let's go brush your hair."
"But I did it last night after I showered." He pouts.
"Dylan, go look in the mirror and see for yourself. You're a wild sleeper you need to brush your hair."
"Fine mommy." He groans but complies in picking up the brush and handing it over to me.
Fifteen minutes later we were ready. Breakfast had been eaten, Dylan and I were ready to wait for Nana. I had a basket with food for the day while he had his ball to play at the park. When Nana arrives, we head to the car and while I am putting everything in the truck I hear Abigail's voice.
"Good Morning Ms Hanlon." She smiles sweetly at me before looking at Dylan. "Hey, Dylan."
"Hey, Abby." He hugs her and I swear I see her cheeks blush.
Jesus Christ, my son is five and he's already stealing hearts. Am I getting old as well?
"That boy will be one hell of a ladies' man," Nana says while I close the trunk and smirks when I finally look at her.
"Tell me about it." I sigh.
"Mom!!" Dylan calls me and I frown.
He never calls me mom. It's always mommy or momma.
"Mom..." He groans... "Call me Dylan I am too big for that."
"Fine... Dylan." I side-eye him.
"Can Abby come with us to the Park?"
Both of them look at me with puppy eyes and unfortunately, I don't have it in me to refuse.
"If her mother doesn't mind... Let's go ask, yeah?"
"YES!" He beams. " Thank you." He quickly hugs my waist before taking Abbigail's hand.
They both run together to her door and I follow close behind while Nana waits for us inside the car. Abigail's mom opens the door and looks at all of us quizzically after smiling at us.
"Hi Susan, is Abby able to go with us to the Park? These two little devils are grilling my brain about going. We'll have a picnic there for lunch and we have more than enough."
"Please, please, please, please, please." Both of them beg at the same time and I just watch amused.
"Yeah sure. But you have to behave, Abbigail, you have to do what Willow says.
They both nod and before I know they are both buckled up in the car and riding to the park. It's a beautiful sunny day and just perfect for some family quality time.
It's a beautiful day. The sun shines bright, highlighting the vibrant colours of the park, mainly greens, yellows and blues. Dylan and Abby are playing football in the grass, close by, in my line of sight while Nana and I are sitting on the towel we spread out on the grass. The soft prickles of the grass tickle my feet and the fresh air softens the warmth that the sun expels.
Trees, flowers and bushes surround us, as well as people that scroll by. Once in a while, I can see a squirrel running around and the birds chirp happily while flying away. This is so relaxing. I probably should do this more often so I can recharge my batteries and face the new week ahead.
Yeah, that is probably what I am going to do, and I am sure Dylan will just be as thrilled.
"How's school been, Lo?" Nana asks, cutting my thought thread.
"Tiring, for sure. One of the classes has been harder than I expected but nothing I can't handle." I smile at her.
"I have noticed that you've been tired. More than usual, if you need me to have Dylan for more hours or to take him to school so you can sleep more let me know, ok? I know you're strong baby but you're not Wonder Woman."
Sighing, I nod.
"Of course, Nana."
She's somewhat right but she has done so much for me that I don't really want to overwork her. Dylan can be a handful sometimes, even though he behaves better with her than with me. He tends to test the limits with me while he's nothing but respectful and abiding with her. I don't know what she does though, bribe him? It makes sense sometimes, the knowing smile she gives him, leaving me in the loop.
"Lo?" She calls me again.
"I am proud of you baby." She smiles at me and I can't help but smile back at her after straighten myself to look better at Dylan playing with Abby. "You've managed to raise him and he's such a loving kid."
We're both looking at him. This kid came to the world unplanned when I was only 16. He was the biggest shock of my life and I felt lost when I found out I was pregnant. My parents and the doctors pressured me to take an abortion but I couldn't go through with it. It was never his fault so why punish him?
I cried for hours and hours on my brother's lap. He was the only one, besides Nana who understood and respected my decision. He also turned out to be an amazing uncle. We didn't see him as often as I wanted to because of the distance but he made up with the video calls and the gifts he kept showering Dylan with.
In the midst of chaos and pain, I found joy, love and strength. This kid is everything to me.
"Thank you, Nana," I answer back without taking my eyes off of my kid.
As if he sensed our eyes on him, he looks at us and comes running towards me, beckoning Abby to do the same. And like the little impulsive kid he is, he throws himself onto me, making me fall backwards with a loud "humpf".
"Oww, kid. You're too big for this already." I say, groaning.
"Thank you for today mommy." He beams at me.
"We'll do it again next week if you want okay?" He nods eagerly. "Now, are you hungry kids? You've been running around for a while now!"
I take the food out of the basket and lay it out for us to eat. The kids dive into the sandwiches and chips while Nana and I snack on crackers with some chorizo, cheese and fruit. I am glad I did extra food because I swear this kid is eating more and more by the day.
But again, with the amount of energy he has, no wonder.
"Mom, come play with us please." After the food and some relaxing in the sun, Dylan has finally had enough of staying still.
"Okay, fine. Football?" I ask and he nods.
"Can I stay here a little longer?" Abby intervenes. "I am still a little bit tired."
"Of course, dear." And with that, I start to stand up.
"You're such a girl." Dylan rolls his eyes and Abby sticks her tongue out in response.
"Don't be mean." I tap him lightly on the shoulder, beckoning him to the green field ahead of us so we can pass the ball around between us.
For half an hour I run around with Dylan, between passing the football around between us, I trip a few times when he does crossovers with his feet, deceiving me. He's skilled with the ball, I'll give him that. I may have to sign him up for football practice soon, he loves the sport and he's really good at it.
Just like him.
The thought reminds me of easier times. Back when my best friend and I used to play like this. We were inseparable ever since we met for the first time up until I left.
That decision haunts me every day but I know I did what I had to do. It's what was best for me and Dylan.
I wonder if he still looks the same, with those blazing but soft blue eyes. His face frame was slightly square with high cheeks and a straight nose. He has started to spot some dark blonde beard on his chin and moustache when I left, it contrasted with his tanned skin so well...
I wonder how much he's changed now. If he's even taller and bulkier? If he has more beard or not.
"Mommy, you're distracted," Dylan whines and brings my attention back to him.
"I am tired, baby."
This boy is like renewable energy, he doesn't stop and I still have a shift later tonight at dinner time. It'll be worth it; the physical fatigue is much more bearable than the mental one and today was enough to replenish the latter.
Just as I am about to go and sit down next to Nana, I hear a familiar voice calling for me, making me turn back towards it in shock.
"Willow? Is that you?"