The kids have been wanting to go to the park all the time recently, before it gets too cold. Winter was fast approaching – it was October already, and the cool breeze blowing by made it feel even colder. I glanced at my phone to see the time and was about to call to the kids when I saw Lyric walking in. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. Life had gotten in the way. She saw me at the exact same moment and her eyes lit up. She rushed over, sitting down next to me.
“Oh my gosh, Adelaide,” she laughed.
“Lyric!” I gasped, pulling my best friend in for a hug. She was the last person I expected to see here – even though her son was here, talking with Vali.
“Gosh, Adelaide, it’s been what, a year?”
“Feels like it,” I laughed, looking around. Ethan and the twins had practically dragged me out the door. Dani was at a big meeting for her job and there was no way I was leaving the girls home alone. After the whole thing with Valentina, we never leave any of our kids home alone. Ironically, Vali’s the only one who really hates the rule. The other kids – even Seraphina, the second oldest – don’t really mind.
“So, five kids, huh?”
While we might not have been able meet up in person very often, we still kept in touch. She practically screamed (texting in all caps) when I told her we’d adopted twin boys. “Yeah. It’s crazy, but I love it.”
She nodded, watching her son. He and Vali were still good friends. They were talking about something or other on a bench away from where her other siblings were playing. “I can’t believe how fast they grow up,” she sighed.
“I know. My youngest is nine now,” I sighed, watch him chase after Grayson while Seraphina and Jackson sat atop the play structure, giggling.
“Nine,” she repeated with a smile, looking over to him – now climbing up the monkey bars. “Seems like just yesterday that Jaden and Valentina were nine.”
“It really does,” I agreed. I remember clearly when it was Jaden and Vali chasing each other or playing in the monkey bars, and now they were the teenagers who went to the park to talk, not play.
“I have so much time now,” Lyric started, “Jaden can practically take care of himself. I remember when he was a little boy, just barely able to walk. It’s crazy. You still have a little boy. How much younger is he than the others?”
Lyric and her husband had never adopted any more children after Jaden. I remember when we were teenagers Vali’s age – Lyric, like Raini, wasn’t even sure if she wanted kids. As she got older, though, she knew she did want to be a mom, but she didn’t want a huge family like I did. “He’s about four years younger than the twins, six years younger than Seraphina, and seven years younger than Valentina.”
She nodded. “Pretty big difference. I was just coming over to check on Jaden. He probably wishes I wasn’t here.”
I chuckled, looking over to where the older kids were talking. I wonder what they’re talking about. I barely remember what Lyric, Zoe, Raini, and I talked about when we were teenagers. School and crushes? “I don’t leave the kids alone anymore – long story.”
She raised her eyebrows questioningly. “Even Vali? She’s sixteen…”
“Especially Vali,” I replied, looking to Valentina as she met my eyes and quickly looked away, “in fact, she’s why.”
“Oh, really? Jaden doesn’t really act out much.”
“You’re lucky. Vali seems to take any chance she has to defy us.”
“I worry that one day, a flip will switch in Jaden and he’ll be that stereotypical moody teen.”
“He’s a good kid,” I assured her, “Does he get good grades?”
“Oh yeah. All A’s and B’s. It just seems too good to be true.”
I laughed. “No, it isn’t. Seraphina and Grayson are great students. That’s just who they are.”
She nodded, smiling. “But Vali’s not like them?”
“Definitely not. But she’s not like some devil kid – she is very passionate about her art and music. She’s still in drama club, too… she just doesn’t like school. Or her moms, sometimes,” I explained, “She’s just going through that teenage phase. Seraphina’s going to be 15 in a few months, and as she gets older, I hope she’ll stay the sweet girl she’s always been.”
“She will be,” Lyric smiled, gesturing over to where she was happily playing with her brothers, “by now, you know a lot about their personalities and who they are.”
“True. I have to get going over to my sister’s place, so I’ve gotta round up the kids,” I told her. I wanted to keep talking about our lives, but I promised Lexie I’d go over to her place today.
“I can watch them,” Lyric offered.
“You don’t have to do that. Are you sure you want to be watching six kids?”
She shrugged. “They aren’t little anymore. I’ll be fine. When do they have to get home?”
“Before it gets dark,” I replied.
“Is Seraphina still scared of the dark?”
I laughed. “Gosh, no. She’s learned to love it, in fact. She looks at the stars in our backyard very often.”
“She’s thinking about being an astronaut. I’ve really got to go now, Lexie’s spam-texting me. She’s pregnant with her and her husband’s second child.”
“That’s great. Tell her I said congratulations.”
I nodded, walking out. The kids will be thrilled they have more time at the park. It’s probably the first time Dani or I wasn’t watching them since the Vali debacle. But it’s not like they’re being left alone, so I’m fine with it. Lexie’s been begging me to get over to her place, but with five kids it can be hard to get out of the house.
“You’re really here!” Lexie exclaimed, and I grinned, looking down at her baby bump.
“You’re showing,” I smiled, and she led my hands to rest atop her bump.
“It’s so exciting,” Lexie gushed, her eyes sparkling. “Ally’s finally sleeping, so we’ve gotta be quiet.” Ally was her four year old daughter, and Lexie occasionally brought her over to play with my kids. They love their little cousin, and I know Ethan loves not being the youngest for a little while.
I nodded, grinning as memories of my pregnancies flooded back to me. It was the most amazing feeling to be holding life.
“And guess what?” Lexie asked as we walked over to the sofa.
“Luca and I found out the sex yesterday,” she replied with a big smile. I was so happy to see her enjoying this time of her life. Her first pregnancy had been a rollercoaster ride for her. Her emotions went everywhere, but I know at the end of it, she had been able to enjoy it. This time, though, she seemed to be doing a lot better.
“Oh my gosh,” I murmured, looking from her bump back to her, “and?”
“It’s a girl!” Lexie squealed happily, “I would’ve been happy either way, but it’s just so exciting to know!”
“That’s awesome, Lexie,” I grinned. Dani and I had never opted to learn the baby’s sex early. We’d only known Vali was a girl because we chose to have a female embryo implanted that time, but for Seraphina and Ethan, we learned the day of their birth.
“I already set up the whole nursery,” Lexie laughed, “Luca says I’m going through nesting early. He’s been so good to me, and he’s so excited about our little girl. Ally’s really excited, too.”
“That’s so sweet. Can I see the nursery?”
“You don’t have to ask twice,” Lexie enthused with a laugh, already getting up. I could just see her flipping through countless catalogs, picking out different items for her daughter. I smiled the second I steeped foot in the room. Lexie had never been crazily feminine – but I remember when she showed us the nursery for her first child – also a girl – it had oozed pink and frills. It had been so sweet to see her going into mommy mode. This room, though, seemed much simpler, and much more Lexie. She was right, though, the room was already done, and her due date wasn’t until January. Her daughter had been born in February, so two winter babies.
“Okay, maybe he’s right about the nesting,” she said, letting out a small smile.
“Maybe he is,” I shrugged, “but it doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy. I love seeing you so joyful.”
“I mean, I am. I finally feel like I’m really grown up – and that probably sounds really weird, but over these past years being Ally’s mom… I’ve become more and more confident in myself.”
“There’s something about becoming a parent that makes you really feel an adult,” I nodded.
“I feel so grown up. I’m married, pregnant, and I have a four year old daughter,” Lexie said with a soft smile, “and I’ve always struggled with feeling like an adult. But for now, at least, I feel at good about everything. It helps that the morning sickness has gone away, too.”
“I bet it does.” Feeling sick eall the time can really get you down – I know it wasn’t easy for me.
“How long can you stay?” Lexie asked.
“For a little while. Lyric’s watching the wedding kids and she’ll be bringing them home.”
Lexie nodded, and we sat down on the small sofa, beginning to catch each other up on what was happening in our lives. I didn’t want to end up like those siblings who lost touch when they move out. We call each other often, but it isn’t the same as meeting in person. After life being so full of changes and uncertainty early in our adulthood, things had finally gotten settled. Lexie’s entering a part of life I left behind nine years ago: caring for a baby. As she begins to be a mom to a young kid… I’m going to be the mom with older kids. She and Luca have decided on having two kids, she told me. We shared stories of just our everyday life; probably boring to everyone else, but we were sisters. We liked hearing about each others’ lives, no matter how uneventful it was. Not like my life was actually uneventful. Plenty of things happened every day with at least one of my kids. Time flew by and before long, we heard the door below us opening, and Lexie looked up at the clock.
“Gosh, how’s it already nine?!” Lexie exclaimed, walking over to the door and yelling down, “Hey, Luca!”
“Lexie,” I heard him say, and then I heard him rushing up the stairs before he wrapped Lexie in a passionate kiss.
“How’ve you been?” He asked her, looking down to her baby bump, leaning closer to her stomach as he whispered something I couldn’t hear, but Lexie giggled. It was absolutely adorable how in love they were. They still acted like a couple that had just realized they were in love and didn’t want to ever let go.
He looked up and seemingly noticed me for the first time. “Hey, Adelaide…”
I smiled, getting up. They both blushed, realizing I had watched every bit of their intimate moment. “I was just going, anyway. I’ll leave you to it.”
Lexie blushed deeper, as she and Luca chuckled, nodding.
“Just call whenever you want to bring Ally over.”
Lexie smiled. “I will. She loves going to the mansion.”
“Is that what she calls it?”
I smiled, nodding. Ally was adorable.
Things have been going great at work. By next year we should finally hit all of nocarbon’s goals which is amazing. All our energy will come from wind, water, or solar powered machines. Last year, we passed a law that only allows ‘green cars’ on the road. Surprisingly, most people were fine with it, especially because we would swap out their car for a green car for free. The new wind powered cars that nocarbon just put out recently have been hailed as the future of cars. I’m so glad that I got to be a part of all this. I’m so glad I made an impact on peoples’ lives. I’ve gotten countless emails since becoming mayor of people telling me how much it means to them to see that their mayor is a lesbian, and many more telling me how laws I passed that make sure marginalized groups get the same opportunities as others changed their lives.
“Dang. So much has changed,” Irena murmured.
Noemi laughed. “You feeling nostalgic today, or what?”
“It’s my son’s birthday. He just recently graduated from college.”
Noemi nodded. “Ah. My son is 14.”
I smirked, looking from Noemi to Irena. They both had one kid… while I had five. “Well… my oldest daughter is 16 -”
Noemi put her hand up, laying back against the sofa. “How do you even remember all your kids’ ages?”
“They’re my kids, Noe! How could I not?”
“I can’t even believe I have a kid – I can’t even imagine having five.”
I shrugged. “We’re different people.”
“True that,” she laughed. I couldn’t believe it the day Noemi told me she was pregnant. She was the kind of person who might specifically avoid being pregnant just to spite her parents, besides the fact that she’d said many times that she didn’t want kids. Apparently she’d changed her mind, though, but Irena and I definitely joked with her about it.
“Did you see the new estimates?” I asked them.
Noemi and Irena exchanged a glance, I could tell they hadn’t. “No…” Noemi said, “what are they?”
“We should meet nocarbon’s goals by next year.”
Irena gasped, looking around the room at the various posters. “What? I thought the last estimate had been two years?”
“Well, something changed. Probably the new wind plant that just opened.”
Noemi nodded. “Probably. Irena’s right – a lot has changed. When I first started working here, an entirely green Brindleton was not even a blip on the radar.”
“And now it’s about to happen,” Irena added with a wistful sigh. It did seem too good to be true, but it was really happening. Things went so fast. Before long, the bitter cold of winter crept up on us, and the world was blanketed in snow. Almost every year, we get a white Christmas. Every year, we go through the same traditions. The kids still run into our room to wake us up, and the second they see our eyes open, they rush downstairs to see what Santa has brought them. It’s really only Ethan who still believes in Santa, but the older kids do a great job of keeping the magic alive for him. And after opening presents, we all celebrate Seraphina’s birthday. How is she already 15?