This story follows the messy journey of three moms in very different and difficult predicaments. Readers can expect a love triangle, a divorce that’s left both parties still longing for one another and a mom of four boys longing for a girl. Chapters will come in weekly with the opportunity to purchase the following chapter the following day for $3 via PayPal to PayPal.me/maturingmama
The Monday morning blues is in the air at The Playland Cafe. And Hannah can feel the weight of it like a ball and chain dragging on her ankles. Still she presses on, willing herself to pick up the pace. She removes chairs from its upright position on top of the coffee tables and grabs a broom to quickly sweep the floor. Once satisfied with the finished product she stops to survey the room. A feeling of accomplishment was just about to take over when her eyes suddenly spot the angry mob of moms and grandmas on the other side of the Playland Cafe’s front entrance.
She races to the door and turns the lock. The door swings open violently, pushed by a grandmother that pulls her grandson in along side her. Hannah is startled and it takes everything within her to not get thrown to the floor.
“The Playland Cafe opens promptly at 9am young lady!”, the grandmother snaps. Mothers follow in this grandmother’s lead, scowling at Hannah as they enter with their children. Hannah follows the grandmother to a coffee table with an apology at the tip of her tongue when the grandmother sharply turns to look at her. Hannah is dumbfound. The grandmother pulls out a hand kerchief from her purse and begins to violently wipe at the table.
Hannah sighs and quickly grabs her dish cloth from her back pocket, competing with the grandmother, she tries to wipe up the rest of the table before she does. The grandmother gives a humph as she accepts defeat and stuffs her handkerchief back into her purse. “This cafe had class before Rita started hiring teenagers right out of high school!”.
Hannah stops wiping at the table and looks at the woman in disbelief, “I’m twenty-five ma’am… I am also the mother of a seven year old!”
“A young mother! No wonder you’re behaving carelessly on your first day!”. Hannah takes a deep- a perfect comeback at the ready until a deep voice whispers in her ear, “Excuse-me miss”. Hannah is startled as she whips around to see vibrant green eyes behind dark eye lashes.
He is tall, lean and strikingly handsome in a business suit. His voice is low and calm as he continues, “I understand it’s your first day, but these kids will trash this place if you don’t open the play area”.
Hannah is suddenly broken out of her trance. “Oh!” She pushes past the young man and opens the swinging gate to a foam play area.
“I’m sorry guys! Head on in!”.
“You’re meant to check in the kids first!”, a mom yells. “Someone’s going to sue!”, another follows.
Hannah cringes as she frantically looks around for the check-in clip board. A strong hand touches her back and gently guides her to the front counter. Then the voice of her comes the calm deep voice again at her ear, “don’t panic. They’re moms. They just need some coffee”.
Hannah goes to the back of the counter and begins to take the orders of mothers that have lined up in front of the till. From the corner of her eye she continues to watch the young man with the green eyes as he is met by a woman that looks a little older than him and two preteen girls, one taller than the other. The girls embrace the young man and exchange kisses on the cheek. Hannah smiles at the site until the mother of the two girls also exchanges a kiss with the man.
Hannah gives her head a quick shake to focus on the task at hand. This woman and her two daughters along with the green eyed man are soon standing before Hannah ready to order. The young man smiles sweetly and his green eyes disappear behind dark eye lashes.
“It’s ok, you survived!”, he exclaims. “Yeah, thank you for that!”, Hannah responds. “Of course! Moms are psycho!” he adds and the woman beside him punches his arm. Hannah is shocked.
She gives an awkward giggle and says, “that’s brave of you to talk about your wife like that!” The man and woman look at each other and grimace. “Kid, I’m his sister!”, she exclaims. Hannah blushes.
The woman continues, “you’re the new girl! I’m Danielle, friends call me Danny”. “Nice to meet you Danny, I’m Hannah”, Hannah greets. “I didn’t say we were friends!”, Danny snaps back.
“Dan!”, the young man protests, “you’re scaring her. Hasn’t she been through enough this morning? I’m River. It’s nice to meet you!”. “Yeah welcome to the big city new kid!”, Danny says.
Hannah cocks her head to one side. “How do you know I’m not from the big city?” she asks. “Because you thought we were friends upon first meeting”, Danny snaps. River rolls his eyes at his sister.
The group give their orders and move to the side of the counter as they wait for Hannah to make it. Danny is soon met by another woman. This woman is very petite and is followed by a trail of three rowdy little boys ages four and under. She also has a baby boy in her arms. “Hey Riley! Hey boys!”, River greets.
Riley looks exhausted as she breathes heavy. The baby in her arms is half her size. “Wow, Tanner’s getting big! You must be tired”, River exclaims as he takes baby Tanner from his mom. Riley glares at him, “don’t start! You’re not too tall for me to kick your ass!” Hannah gives a quick look at River once again. He catches her eyes and scrunches his nose at her.
“Don’t worry she’s not my wife either!”, he whispers to Hannah. Hannah gives an awkward smile and returns to making coffees. Riley notices Hannah and squints her eyes at her, “whose this?! Where’s Taylor?! That girl knew how to make my lattes”
“This is Hannah, she’s new here. Be nice and say hi!”, River suggests. Riley raises her eye brows at Hannah as though waiting to see if she expected her to follow River’s suggestion.
Hannah shakes her head, “you don’t have to”. Riley nods and turns her attention to Danny. “I’m so over it right now! I lost more weight!”, she exclaims. “You lost more weight?!”, Danny responds. “How much?!”, she asks.
“Girl, five pounds!” Riley answers. “Five pounds?! No wonder you can’t carry Tanner!”, River jokes. “It’s not funny! Most postpartum women are trying to figure out how to lose weight while I’m over here wracking my brain to figure out gaining weight!”, Riley complains.
There is the sound of thumping coming from the floor. It’s Riley’s oldest son banging his head against it. “Walker quit knocking your head against the floor!”, she screams as she struggles to pick him up. River sighs and gives Tanner to Danny. He then takes Walker off of Riley.
“Come on big man, you gotta use your words”, River says to Walker while bouncing him in his arms. Walker giggles and smacks River across his face. Hannah smiles at the scene and brushes blonde strands from her messy bun behind her ears.
Riley continues, “I swear I’m losing my mind here! I need to gain some weight!” Two moms walk by with their kids and look at Riley in confusion. Riley notices and barks at them, “what?! You want to give some of yours?! You look like you’re carrying enough for two moms!”.
Danny puts an arm around Riley and shushes her. She then addresses her two girls, “Mackenzie and Cassandra, why don’t you girls take the boys in to the play area while the grown ups talk”. The girls nod and take the boys away.
Danny continues with Riley, “Ry, did you eat yet?”. Riley sighs, “honestly… I can’t remember”. River laughs, “how do you not remember if you ate?!”.
“Dude! I don’t remember if I even put on deodorant this morning or brushed my teeth! You think I can remember if I managed to put something in my mouth?!”
Hannah gains the courage to speak up, “maybe you’re stressed”, she offers as she places the group’s drinks on the counter before them. “Excuse-me?!”, Riley snaps.
Hannah’s jaw drops like she’s shocked the words came out of her mouth. Riley takes a step closer to the counter, “say it again, come on!” Hannah looks to River who gives her an encouraging nod. She says it again slowly, “maybe… you’re… stressed”.
“That’s a good point Hannah!”, River says, “Riley you’re a mother, so why wouldn’t you be-?”
Riley slams her hands on the counter, “who the hell do you think you are?! Some know-it-all nanny?! You think just because you took a babysitter courses in high school, maybe nannied for one year on a trip to Europe that mommy and daddy paid for; you suddenly have advice for a stay-at-home mom of four boys?! Oh you are brave-!”.
River pulls Riley away from the counter by her arms and hands her one of the coffees that Hannah had placed before them. He directs her to a table to sit with Danny and returns for the other coffees. River looks at a wide eyed Hannah, “she’s really more bark than bite”. Hannah gives a slow nod in disbelief. River continues, “really; it’s small woman syndrome”. He gives Hannah a wink and returns to the ladies at the coffee table.
The busyness of the cafe has settled down and it was some time ago Hannah watched as her green eyed rescuer left the table of moms with his to-go coffee in hand. She now wipes vacant tables as she thinks back to the friendly good bye River gave her as he left: A sweet raise of his cup as he threw a five dollar bill in the tip jar.
Hannah was so lost in thought that she hardly noticed the sound of a familiar snarky voice calling after her. “Oy! Know-it-all Nanny!”
Hannah turns to the table where Riley and Danny sit with their empty cups of coffee. She slowly approaches the customers. Hannah’s voice quivers as she speaks, “can I get you ladies anything else?”.
“Enlighten me nanny, what makes you think it’s stress causing me to lose weight?”, Riley questions her. Hannah’s eyes search the room as she evaluates how safe it was for her to answer this question. Her green eyed hero wasn’t there to fend for her this time, she is on her own .
Hannah takes a deep breath and then takes the plunge; “well after I had my daughter I tried to work and go to night school. I was so stressed out by my busy schedule while taking care of a new baby that I lost 20 pounds in just a couple months. My counsellor offered that I could be forgetting to eat because my body was constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode… causing me to not be very hungry…”
Hannah braces herself for the ladies’ response. Riley gives a slow nod and then says, “but I don’t have a job and I’m not going to school. I’m just a stay-at-home mom”.
Danny scoffs, “with those four boys it’s like you have a round the clock job! I don’t even know how you manage to get any sleep!”. Riley throws Danny a glare and then looks back at Hannah. “Alright… I’ll take it. So what did you do to get better?”, Riley asks.
Hannah takes a deep breath and continues, “well I found with my busy schedule it was more practical for me to carry around bottles of smoothies with me. It actually helped me have more of a clear head so I’d remember to eat when I settled down at the end of the day”.
“Alright Know-It-All Nanny… you’re cool with me. You can keep making my coffees everyday”, Riley offers. Hannah doesn’t know what to say, “uhh… thank-you?”. Riley gives her a nod of approval.
An exhausted Hannah enters a large penthouse suite. The suite is classy looking with expensive taste in decor suited for a high paid business man.
Hannah drops her purse at the door and groans as she leans the back of her head against it. The sound of a strong male voice echoes through the penthouse, “Honey, is that you?”. Hannah gives a smile of relief as her energy returns. She runs into to the living room and into the arms of a handsome man that looks at least ten years older than her.
The two share a passionate kiss. Once they are done the man pulls the hair elastic out of Hannah’s messy bun so her golden hair falls across her shoulders. He giggles as he says, “you look like a mess!”.
Hannah pouts causing him to rephrase, “a cute mess”. She smiles, “thank you!”. Hannah slumps down onto the couch with a sigh. The man sits on the couch across from Hannah and picks up a news paper and his reading glasses. “Long day?” he asks.
“You have no idea!”, Hannah exclaims. “Actually, I do”, the man offers, “I worked at cafes before I became a success. I know it’s hard. That’s why I offered you can stay here and relax. Just focus on being a mom”.
“Craig, I know you mean well and I appreciate the offer. But our relationship still feels new. My daughter and I can’t just live off your hard earned money like we’re your responsibility just yet”, Hannah says.
“Hmm”, Craig responds as he brings the news paper to his face.
Hannah continues, “Plus, Joey is in school all day anyway. So there’s really nothing for me to do here. I’d get bored”. Hannah looks around the room… “where is Joey anyway?”.
Craig continues to read his paper, “hmm?”
Hannah looks concerned. She paces up to Craig and pulls the news paper away from his face. Craig looks surprised, “what?!”.
Hannah tries again, “Joey! You said you would pick her up from school!”. Craig grabs the paper back from Hannah and puts it back in front of his face. “And I did… I sent Johnson”, Craig says.
Hannah drops her head, “no, no, no!”. Craig looks up from his newspaper, “what?! It’s taken care of!”.
Hannah races to the door and picks up her purse. “No it’s not taken care of! I don’t know who Johnson is!”
“So?”, Craig spits back as he follows her to the door.
“So, Joey doesn’t know him either! So, she won’t go with a stranger!”
Hannah grunts as she leaves through the door.
“So how long have you worked for Mr. Craig?”, the sound of seven year old Joey’s voice echoes through the empty parking lot of her elementary school. An annoyed River stands a few feet away from her with his dark brown hair in a messy state. He runs his hands through it in annoyance, “I have worked for Mr. Craig for three years Joey, now would you please just get in the car!”
“No! And don’t call me Joey. You don’t know me. My name is Josephine! Now just one more question!”, Joey shoots back. River grunts, “that’s what you said five questions ago. You now know how long I’ve worked for Craig, what my full name is, what Craig’s full name is and his address-“
“Just one more question!”, Joey says again. River pulls at his tie in annoyance as he mumbles, “would you like fries with that?”.
“What’s my mom’s full name?”, Joey puts her hands on her hips. River is stumped, “I don’t know”.
“See I knew it!”, Joey declares.
Hannah’s voice comes from behind River, “Joey sweetie!”
Joey’s eyes light up as she runs past River, “mommy!”
Joey runs into her mother’s arms. Hannah’s eyes go wide as she spots River, “you?!”
River begins to fix his messy hair and straighten his tie, “and you. Hannah right?”
“You know my mommy’s name?!”, Joey says in surprise. River giggles, “I guess so”.
“Mommy, this man was going to take me!”, Joey yells. River blushes and shakes his head, “no I really was not trying to just take her”.
“I know, it’s just a bit of a misunderstanding”, Hannah explains.
“Craig Hudson… my boss arranged for me to pick up his girlfriend’s daughter”, River says this like a question.
“That’s me. I’m his girlfriend. And this is my daughter Joey”, Hannah explains.
River grows awkward as he looks down at the ground. “You’re the new girlfriend… Cool”, he responds.
Hannah gives him a confused look, “why does that sound like I’m girlfriend number ten or something?”
“Ten’s not a very high number- Well it’s great that you got here when you did. I was losing an uphill battle”, River says as he gives Joey a wide eyed look.
Hannah laughs, “oh you have no idea. She has a wicked stranger danger scream”. River frowns as Joey gives him a big smile.
“Well thanks for trying but you can just go home then”, Hannah gives an awkward smile and begins to lead Joey away.
“Actually I’ll be seeing you guys at Craig’s house”, River responds. Hannah turns to give him a confused look. “But it’s the end of the day”, Hannah argues.
“And that means I have to make Craig- Mr. Hudson, dinner”.
“You’re his cook?”, Hannah asks.
“I’m his personal assistant”, River finishes with a shrug of his shoulders.