I hear Jack and Maggie whispering in the hallway. 

It’s just the five of us at home. Me and the four kiddos. Severe thunderstorms over the past couple days have my lineman husband pulling eighteen hour shifts with the power company. It’s hard when he’s gone. We rely on him. I rely on him! 

And, today is my third child Caleb’s fifth birthday. He hasn’t seen his Dad in forty eight hours. 

Caleb asked all day when Daddy will be home. And when will have cake at Papa and Grammy’s house. “Sorry, K-Cat, Daddy is working late. And we aren’t going to Grammy’s until tomorrow night, remember?” I explained. My mother was sick again this week so we put off our family birthday dinner until the weekend. 

Throughout the day I tried creating special moments for him. Dozens of balloons were scattered all over the room. We played games. And he got to watch anything he wanted on TV – which meant a full day of YouTubers cracking open egg surprises, beating minion apps, and talking over Angry Birds Go. 

“When will Daddy be home?” he asked again during school carline. As Maggie and Jack scrambled into the car, bookbags falling to the floor, Caleb, seated in the third row, shared his excitement about family birthday dinner tomorrow night at Grammy and Papa’s house.  

“But I wished it was tonight,” he said sadly. 

And now here it is 5:15 pm. 

Caleb picked dinner so I’m making waffles with hot fudge and nut topping for everyone. Oh, and buttered popcorn. I may him drink from the two liter Cherry Pepsi bottle too. He always laughs so hard when he gets to do that. 

And now I hear Maggie and Jack whispering in the hall. They’ve disappeared together five minutes ago. I wonder what they’re up to?

Silence. And then….

They both yelled excitedly, in sync, “Caleb come here!!”

Caleb hopped off the couch where he had been stationed in front of another Egg Surprise YouTube video, ran through the living room, down the long hall, and found them in den. 

“Surprise!” I heard them cheer. 

And then they sang Happy Birthday to Caleb. 

I peeped in the den just in time to see them present him with a plate full of Vienna Sausages and Cuties oranges. 

“It’s your favorite treats ever!” Maggie said in her animated six year old way. “It’s not as good as Papa’s house but we can pretend!”

And then he smiled at them. And grabbed them both in a group hug. They were giggling as I snuck away unnoticed. After all, I had waffles and hot fudge to tend. 

Published by Lisa Cole

Lisa Cole is a freelance writer and social media specialist skilled in non-profit marketing and grass roots advertising. This mother of four weaves humor, emotion and depth into stories about parenthood and life in the American South.

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