Accountability Chapter 2

The serial continues, and I am amazed at how some of the characters I created five years ago are still around today leaving their mark on America’s education system. I hope this story gets people to wake up to the real problem so they can start to make the appropriate changes to this field before it becomes too late. It is already getting hard to find good teachers, and that is because they are treated so poorly in the United States that they go overseas to find more respect and as a side bonus, more money.

2

The easy transition into my son’s school day didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped it would. A commercial for the newest Buddy Bear appeared after the episode of the cartoon was over. The newest Buddy Bear was Billy Bob Bear. Billy Bob Bear had grown up in a broken household and was eventually left on his own because his real parents didn’t care enough about him. He was lucky enough to stumble upon the Buddy Bear family. Mama Buddy felt sorry for Billy Bob Bear and knew he needed a strong mother figure in his life, so she adopted him. Even though Billy Bob Bear was a little rough around the edges, he thrived under the caring love of Mama Buddy. He started to learn how he too could be a wonderful influence on the people in his life. I used to look at stories like this as a real inspiration and wished I had the opportunity to be like Mama Buddy sometime in my life.

Anyway, Billy Bob Bear wasn’t the problem. It was the fact he was being introduced in doll form that very morning. Zach had all the rest of the Buddy Bear collection and after he saw the commercial, he felt he needed to get the newest edition. He jumped up and down and begged me to buy Billy Bob Bear. I knew these toys were expensive. If I spent the money I was given as an allowance by my husband on this new toy for Zach then I wouldn’t have enough left over to get the haircut I desperately needed at the time. I knew it was a painful decision and my hair would need to wait for a couple more weeks, but my children came first in my life. I knew how important it was for Zach’s happiness, so we went out and got him Billy Bob Bear that day.

We didn’t have enough time to get one this morning and make it to school on time, so I told him we would pick it up later in the day. But Zach stressed how important it was he had one for school that day. He screamed and shouted and refused to get in the car unless we went to the toy store that morning. There was no way he could show up at school without the latest edition of the Buddy Bear family to display for his class. This seemed reasonable to me because it complied with the Department of Motherhood’s Standard Number One: A mother should insure the popularity of their children so they would have a healthy amount of self-esteem. Because of this, we set off to the nearest toy store to get a Billy Bob Bear before I dropped him off at school. We got to the store and of course it wasn’t open until 9:00, but I could see the display for Billy Bob Bear inside. It took awhile for Zach understand we couldn’t buy one until they opened the store. I showed him the display and we spent the hour staring at it in order to appease him.

Lindsey, on the other hand, was being the angel I always hoped for with my children. She quietly sat on the sidewalk and sucked her two fingers while I pointed out all of the exciting things the toy store had to offer to Zach. I felt so bad she wasn’t getting something for herself, so when the store finally opened, I bought her a new stuffed Baby Buddy. She played with it in the back seat as we dropped off Zach at school. I had to sign him in at the front office and I was scolded by my son’s teacher who was on her break at the time, but what did she know about being held to such high standards. Teachers didn’t have to deal with the threat of their reason for living being taken away from them if they couldn’t perform up to the required standards. I know I had done the right thing with my son and I gently took her scolding with a grain of salt, because when she was held accountable like I was then she would have room to talk.

I also stopped by the post office to see about the certified letter Robert had asked me to pick up, but the lady behind the counter told me they had sent it to my house already, special delivery. She said that I could expect it sometime in the afternoon and she didn’t even have to go in the back and check. I should’ve known something was up when they had the rest of my mail for me. I thought it was weird they would send the certified letter ahead of my regular mail, but I took the rest of the mail because it helped to validate my trip to the post office. Lindsey was once again the perfect angel while we were at the post office. It seemed purchasing the Baby Buddy for her was a great idea because it was the new toy that kept her occupied while I talked to the lady behind the counter. The postal employee even commented on how well behaved Lindsey was, and how I must be the greatest mother to have such a wonderful child. It always made me feel like I was doing the right thing when other people recognized what a great job I was doing.

By the time we got back home and ate lunch, Lindsey was wiped out from all of the running around we had already done. I tucked her in her bed to take a nap and she still had the new bear tucked under her arms when I snuck downstairs to read the newspaper and the mail.

I loved the house we lived in. It was a larger version of the dollhouse I used to play with as a child, except now I lived in it. Each room was designed for a specific purpose with comfort in mind. It was also a stimulating environment just as required by the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. Every room in the house had a large flat screen television that could be viewed from any of the comfortable chairs surrounding them. Bookcases were in every room with various knick knacks and the occasional novel made into a movie.

One of the rooms was made into a library which housed our large collection of DVDs. They were arranged in alphabetical order by title in the various genres: children’s, horror, science fiction, action, romance, comedy, and Brad Pitt movies. If one couldn’t find a movie that they would find entertaining, they just weren’t looking hard enough.

The basement was turned into a game room with another large screen television. All of the video game consoles were there from the Wii, the PS4 and the Xbox with Connect. There was also a collection of all the newest, as well as classic video games. The couch in the room was the most comfortable one ever made. Anyone who sat in it felt like they were sinking into oblivion. There were many times I had to convince Lindsey and Zach to leave the confines of this couch in order to join Robert and me for dinner.

They were never required to join us for dinner, of course, but there were many nights we spent that meal together as a family, at least once a week. When we shared dinner together it was at the table in the kitchen. I would serve all of the kids’ favorites as long as they had some nutritional value, such as hamburgers, pizza, tacos, vegetables (as long as they were deep fried for taste), or omelets. Every night for desert we would enjoy some frozen delight served from our soft serve ice cream machine. The children were so good at using it they were able to make their own deserts any time they wanted to during the day.

The kids’ rooms were a joy for me as well as them. It was the perfect environment for them to stimulate their minds while enjoying the privacy of their own space. They each had a 3-D television big enough to enjoy, but not big enough to spoil them, 42 inches. They would often have many of the 3-D movie selections in their rooms during the course of the week, and I would have to remind them that they needed to be returned to our video library. Then I would return them to our video library. They each had their own gaming system as well. I tried to find the most educational games for them, such as Baseball and Football so they would get their sports, Medal of Honor so they could learn their history, and the Zelda and Final Fantasy games for literature. We also made sure that they had some of the fun games as well like Grand Theft Auto and Silent Hill, but we encouraged them to play the more educational ones.

Robert had his office upstairs next to the children’s rooms where he was able to finish his work. It was actually an extra bedroom we had converted into an office, and we put our guests there when they came in from out of town. I also had my special spot, and that was, as I’ve already said, the kitchen. This is where I would prepare the meals, pay the bills and watch over the kids if they happened to be in the family room playing. The kitchen table was the place where I would be able to wind down, look the mail over and read the newspaper every once in awhile. On the day my life changed, I had put Lindsey down for a nap, made myself comfortable in the kitchen and read a front page headline that caught my attention.

Secretary of Motherhood Avoids Assassination Attempt

Dr. Nancy Ann Blur, the nation’s first ever Secretary of Motherhood, was attacked by a crazed individual wielding a frying pan Monday afternoon at a speaking engagement at the Angelina Jolie Auditorium. She was talking about how important it was for mothers to follow the standards laid out by the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. The attacker was a Miss Beverly Robinson who had made it up to the stage where Dr. Blur was giving her speech. She was stopped short by security. When Miss Robinson was detained, she threw the large frying pan she was carrying at the Secretary of Motherhood, coming very close to hitting her in the head. If it wasn’t for Dr. Blur’s athletic ability the outcome might have been completely different than it was.

Witnesses who were attending the event and were sitting next to Beverly Robinson stated they, “…noticed something strange about her behavior. Before Dr. Blur took the stage she was clutching on to her large purse and muttering something about ‘Wanting her to give them back.’”

Security guards who stopped Beverly Robison from reaching her goal said she had shouted, “I want them back b#&ch!” right before she threw the frying pan at the beloved secretary. They believe the frying pan was being concealed in the large purse and that is the reason why nobody noticed the deadly weapon when the Miss Robinson entered the Angelina Jolie Auditorium.

Beverly Robinson had just been released from the Capital Limited Re-Education Center near La Junta, Colorado two weeks prior to the incident with high marks. She was going to be reintroduced into the motherhood program when Thomas Stannish had offered her a job taking care of his two children. They had recently been left without a mother due to the inability to live up to the expectations of her duties. Beverly Robinson had found herself in a similar situation one year earlier when she was unable to have the children in her care pass the Motherhood Assessment Program (MAP) test for three years running. According to the rules of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, this violation is what led to her being placed in the re-education program.

Dr. Blur, whose approval rating is at an all time high of 78%, said about the incident, “It is sad indeed when things like this happen, but this is the reason I worked so hard to make sure the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act was passed in the first place. There were too many mothers out there who just weren’t being held accountable for the way they were raising their children. It is vitally important for our youth we weed out these bad mothers and replace them with ones better equipped to handle the job.”

I remember sitting there and staring at the paper. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to attack this wonderful woman who had done so much to make sure mothers got the attention they deserved. At the time, it was clear to me that Beverly Robinson was insane and there wasn’t any amount of re-education that could be made possible to turn her into the perfect mother the act intended. I was sure Dr. Blur had done everything in her power to help this woman and she was just beyond help. I thought it was sad that not all women could be great mothers like I was, but I was sure that was why the government created the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, to make sure these mothers, like Beverly Robinson, stayed away from children before real damage was done. I used to believe this act was making sure every child had a wonderful mother and it was all due to that amazing woman who wrote her historic report.

Dr. Nancy Ann Blur used to be my idol. She had grown up from small roots to take control of her life and be one of the most respected women of the United States. She grew up in the small town of Jeffery City, Wyoming where her dad was a science teacher and her mom was a school secretary for the elementary school in town. She was the only girl growing up with four brothers and in her teenage years she spent her afternoons with her mother at the school helping out in the after school program. It was there she found her love for children and discovered how important it was for parents to raise their children correctly. If kids weren’t given this opportunity, they would be led down the wrong path of life. Her brothers taught her that the stronger gender was actually the woman and it was what the mother did with her child that was more important in life than the father.

After she graduated from high school, she went to college. She attended five different colleges before she was able to graduate from the prestigious Eastern Wyoming Christian College in Casper, Wyoming with a degree in journalism. It took her six years to earn the degree. Part of the reason was because she couldn’t find a college that fit with her moral beliefs, and secondly because she grew up in a large family with such a low income. She was forced to raise her own money in order to make it through school. Luckily, she was blessed with charisma and she was able to earn a scholarship by winning a couple of beauty pageants. It was her talent with the trumpet that really impressed the judges the most. She even went as far as to come in second place in the Miss Wyoming pageant of 2007.

After she graduated from college, she earned a job broadcasting sports at the local Fox affiliate in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She pushed hard for the station to cover the local sports instead of focusing on the larger teams coming out of nearby Denver, Colorado. She earned their respect and spent most of the broadcast focusing on rodeos, beauty pageants, and high school sports. It was on one of her trips to cover a sporting event in her hometown of Jeffery City when she became aware of the corruption taking place in that town. She learned that Sam Hogston, the mayor, was fiddling around with the finances of the town. She vowed to resolve this problem. She quit her job in Cheyenne and ran for mayor of Jeffery City.

She won the election 635 to 211 by running under the campaign of making sure the children received the funds denied under Mayor Hogston. I didn’t watch the debates for the elections when they originally happened, but as I learned more and more about Dr. Blur I went back and watched them on YouTube. Dr. Blur was able to make Mayor Hogston look like a fool through the debate. He was not an attractive or imposing man to begin with, but when the debate was underway she made the short, fat, bald man look like a fumbling, bumbling idiot. After the election, she lived up to her promise by raising $14 million dollars through grants and donations to create a rodeo fairground for the local high school. She would have been able to finish the fairgrounds in a record amount of time if it wasn’t for the fact that the media, the People’s Network, had dug up some useless dirt about the mishandling of finances.

With all of the good she did for the children of Jeffery City, the President of the United States took notice. She continued to climb the political ladder when she wrote her report and soon afterwards was nominated for the newly appointed position under the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, the Secretary of Motherhood, which she proudly accepted. She quickly laid out her philosophy of how the department should be run by writing the national bestselling book, Mama Grizzly. I had a signed copy of the book and at one time, it was the greatest treasure that I owned. I used to keep it safe on the bedside table and I had even gone so far as to sit down and read the first three chapters of the book. This is where I learned so much about Dr. Nancy Ann Blur’s life.

I used to believe the awful thing about Dr. Blur I had read in the paper that fateful day just helped prove my point about how some people did not take what she asked them to do seriously. Beverly Robinson, Dr. Blur’s attacker, probably didn’t understand that if she just took the time to live up to the standards presented in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, she would see that they are wonderful guidelines to help raise her children. There was no reason to fight the standards, but by accepting them she would become a better mother, the children would live in a secure household, they would grow up to be responsible adults, and the United States of America would thrive as a country.

I, on the other hand, was not afraid to show what a wonderful mother I was. I had always been ready to show the Department of Motherhood my skills every year and my two children shined with every assessment given in my household. The next assessment really excited me. It would be the fourth in a row with excellent marks. I was just waiting for the date to be announced when one of the assessors would come over to my house and observe what a wonderful environment it was to nurture children. This was why my hands started to shake when I saw the letter tucked away in the pile of mail I brought home from the post office. It was from the Department of Motherhood. Before opening it up, I looked around me like a sinner who was about to do something that would send her to hell for all eternity. When I knew I was alone, I focused back on the letter in my hand.

My index finger wiggled its way under the flap and I ripped the envelope open. I slid out the single piece of paper and closed my eyes before I read it. When I found the courage to open them up, I read the following words:

Dear Mrs. Rachael Young,

It is my pleasure to inform you the assessment period is once again upon us. We have diligently gone through our records and they show you have exceeded expectations for the last three years. Because of this, we will be scheduling you early in the process with one of our elite assessors. Please, be ready at the time indicated, as we know you will be. The assessment will be taking place on April 2nd at 10:00 AM and your assessor will be Dr. Nancy Ann Blur.

Thank you and have a nice day,

Department of Motherhood

I stared at the letter and had to look again after reading the name of my assessor this year. I couldn’t believe the Secretary of Motherhood would be coming to my house to be my assessor, but there her name stood out on the sheet of paper in front of me. I could tell that it was even her signature because it was exactly like the signature I had in the copy of Mama Grizzly that sat on my bedside table. She would be in my house and would see what a wonderful job I did raising my children. I was so happy. I believed this was the most amazing honor ever bestowed on me. I looked up at the calendar to see how far away the date was. It was only two weeks, but I knew I would shine because I had been following the standards all year long. I knew my children were ready to prove to the world what a wonderful mother I was. The excitement that rushed over me was so great I wanted to scream, but I knew if I did I would wake Lindsey from her nap, so I held it in.

Instead, the doorbell ringing two seconds later was what woke her up.

Accountability Chapter 1

Education had been on my mind a lot lately, especially when I think about the way it is heading in the United States. It reminds me of my first novel that I wrote that was never published. I finished writing it four years ago, but it seems more timely now. I have since become a better writer, and there are flaws in this piece that I have not gotten around to fixing due to the fact that I am finishing up my next novel, the first part in a horror serial, and am in the process of writing my next, a satirical look at the educational system of Korea as it compare to that of America. In the meantime, I thought I would release my first novel as a serial over my blog with a new chapter coming out each week. Please excuse the typos and silly mistakes, but enjoy the story while thinking about the current state of education in America. I hope you enjoy Accountability.

 

PART 1

ASSESSMENT

1

Did I dream of this?

When I was young, is this what I hoped for?

Did I dream of ending up in this dead end job or did I have greater ambitions?

Can I mark the exact moment that my dreams got taken away from me and I was sent down the path to this pitiful end?

Now I can. I know looking back I can pinpoint the exact moment my life changed. As a teenage girl just graduating from high school and embarking on a new life I looked at the moment differently than I do now. But of course, I was distracted at the time. The most handsome man in the world, Robert Young, had just proposed to me, and even though my parents didn’t approve of our match, I didn’t care because I was eighteen and I was in love. So what if we had only been dating for two months? When it is true love, you know in a matter of seconds and no length of time will tell you differently. And I looked at him and I saw he could give me everything my heart desired: a beautiful home, a loving husband, and a prospect for children on the way. So what if he was ten years older than me? Love could conquer that age difference.

But this wasn’t the moment that changed my life. It happened later in the summer during the wedding planning and the moving into his house. I saw it unfold on the national news. I used to love watching the People’s Network for news. Robert would get angry at me if he caught me watching, but he wasn’t around the day the news broke. I was picking out the music for our wedding and I wasn’t really paying attention anyway. I had the TV on more for background noise, not planning to be influenced by the propaganda Robert believed it portrayed. But there she stood on that big screen television, the woman who would eventually change my life, Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. She was taking about the report she had just written and filed with the United States government. That was the exact moment my dreams had officially been taken away from me.

It was 2014 when Dr. Nancy Ann Blur came out with her famous report, A Family at Risk. It pointed out that the central core of the family unit was at risk because too many mothers were becoming too busy to take care of their children anymore. They were always working on their careers or making sure they were moving up the social ladder. Their families often took a back seat. It was because of this that children were growing up to be disrespectful of their elders and unfit to become productive members of society. Dr. Blur was debating another woman on the television show who claimed what the good doctor was suggesting was absurd. I got to know that woman really well. When she was debating the good doctor, the People’s Network placed her name under her face so we would all know that she was Mrs. Karen Shatney-Moore. That lady was the CEO of the greatest company of that time, Homewide Inc.  Every mother in the world had at one time used a product created by Homewide Inc. Most of the mothers could even tell you which products they used were created by Homewide Inc. The company made quality products that were able to make life easier for mothers no matter what stage of development their children were in. They made nursing blankets and breast pumps for the time when the children were still babies. For the children in the pre-school age, they created fun games that taught the children about their colors and counting, all the while engaging enough not to bore the mothers silly while they played the games. They had a collection of authors they employed that were some of the most skilled authors out there. The writers told stories that were fun to read and easy enough for the children to read, yet were able to connect with every generation. The company also created equipment for outdoor use that was fun for children of all ages. The best part of this equipment was the children enjoyed it so much they would want to get outside to grab what the day had to offer. I remembered growing up with Homewide Inc. products and memories of the times I used them were some of my fondest.

The CEO of this company claimed that the problem was societal. The raising of the next generation should be the concern of everybody and shouldn’t be placed squarely on the shoulders of one group of people. It was an interesting debate, and at the time, I thought Dr. Blur gave the stronger argument with quick one-liners and witty retorts. Her argument stated that something should be done in order for the significant framework of the American culture to not get lost in the wake of these terrible mothers that were infiltrating the families of this great nation. She demanded that mothers be held accountable for the way they were raising their children, and the great men of Congress agreed with her. Within only a short year, they drafted and passed the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act to make sure the youth of America were no longer subjected to this atrocity. It was a bi-partisan bill that only garnered six “No” votes, most notably Congresswoman Shelly Perkins and Senator Sarah Hathaway. The American people took care of those dissenters by not voting for them in the next election. It forced them to go home to become the housewives as the stipulations of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act said they should have been in the first place.

When time moved on and it came down to people losing their jobs and other people speaking about my future, I started paying more attention. I had felt pride in a nation that was starting to take the profession I would be going into more seriously. I was proud to be one of the trailblazers helping to bring this new piece of legislation into reality. I was still not a mother yet, but as I licked the envelopes of my wedding invitations, I knew Robert and I would be trying to have children soon afterwards. It would be during the birth of my first child, Zachary Noel Young, a year later that I excitedly started to uphold the standards of this now famous bill.

The National Caring and Loving Behavior Act was a simple bill. It established a new department of the national branch of the government, the Department of Motherhood. This department would be headed by the Secretary of Motherhood, and during the birth of my second child, Lindsey Ann Young, they had found the perfect person to take on this prestigious role, the woman who worked long and hard to make this law a reality, Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. She had established a series of standards every mother needed to live up to when raising her children. Each year a representative of the Department of Motherhood would visit the home of every mother in the United States and test the children to see if the mother was living up to the standards laid out by the act. If the mother passed the examination, her name would be posted on the National Accountability Website and the ones who had exceptional scores would be profiled in the newspapers. I had been featured in The Elbert County Gazette for three years in a row before my life took a dramatic turn. The mothers who did not earn proficient marks were taken from their children and sent to re-education centers. These centers supplied the mothers with the proper training so they could be more like the exceptional mothers making this country great. Each center was built by the leading economic force in America, the Capital Limited Corporation. Capital Limited’s goal was to make sure that every American, no matter their age, was given the opportunity to become a productive consumer within our society and these re-education centers would help to achieve this goal. They claimed it was not a perfect system, but they were tweaking it every year to make sure the standards were strong enough to reestablish America as the leader of motherhood it had always been.

I never complained about the act because I believed it was making this country a better place to live. It wasn’t yet living up to the standards laid out but that was not because of mothers like me. It was because of all of the other mothers. They spent all of their time fighting against the wonderful ideals this act could accomplish. I believed if the dissenting mothers would just take responsibility for their jobs in life and quit nick-picking over the little things this act doesn’t do, they might find it was a fair and honest way of raising their children. I thought they would see that everyone benefited because of it. Mothers had better relationships with their children. Children got to know their mothers better and they learned all of the skills they needed in order to make it in this difficult world or become caring mothers themselves.

I still mull over these thoughts. I constantly wonder if there was a moment when I could’ve done something differently or if I was a victim of fate from the exact moment A Family at Risk was presented before a confused nation. It doesn’t matter for me anymore, but if some other mother out there could learn something from my experiences, then my telling this story will be worth it.

The moment I can really pinpoint as the time when I should have realized my fate was decided for me, was a couple of weeks before my second to last assessment. It had started off as many mornings had before that day, in the kitchen.

The kitchen was, and still is, the place where I feel most comfortable. Nobody had ever outdone me in that arena, especially when breakfast had to be served, and people needed to be prepared for their responsibilities for the rest of their day. It was all about the timing to make sure everything was perfect and all I needed to hear to get going was what I considered my starting gun, my husband’s alarm clock. It was the sound I waited for every morning, but until I heard it, I stood in the ready position. My fingers stretched out from my sides making sure they were limber enough to take on the challenge. My mind ran through the list of all the things needing to be done and the order in which they needed to be accomplished. I always made sure my lips were moist. It was a superstition of mine. My legs would tense up as I got ready to spring. My eyes would narrow down upon my opponent, the stove, and I would wait.

On the day my life changed, I stood in the kitchen like a gunfighter at 12:00 noon, ready to do battle with the man in the black hat. The only difference was the gunfighter was dressed in chaps, a dirty shirt and vest, and I was dressed in pajamas with red hearts all over them, a pink bathrobe and fuzzy bunny slippers. The other difference was that the man in black was actually an inanimate object that I had complete control over, the stove.

Robert’s alarm started to screech from upstairs.

I sprung into action.

I leaped to the drawer underneath the stove and pulled it open. I gathered two frying pans and a large, square, flat griddle. I placed the griddle on the back two burners of the stove and the frying pans on the remaining two front burners as I kicked the drawer shut. I turned the right front burner on with my left hand while opening the fridge with my right. I pulled out a new package of bacon, a dozen eggs, a tub of butter, and a gallon of milk and placed them on the counter beside the stove. I grabbed a knife from the magnet on the back wall, sliced open the package of bacon with it, placed it back on the magnet pointy end up, grabbed the plastic from the package and ripped it down to expose the uncooked meat. I peeled the bacon off one at a time to place it on the heating-up frying pan. The first piece of bacon started to sizzle as I put the fifth piece down. I went through the whole package until the pan was full. This was like any other morning, and things were running smoothly. The routine was a machine and I had perfected it.

I listened upstairs to make sure that part of the machine was running smoothly also. I heard the water running in the shower in our bathroom. That meant Robert was at the appropriate place that morning, but I hadn’t heard from the children yet. I grabbed the gallon of orange juice and the maple syrup and plopped them down on the kitchen table before I ran to the edge of the stairs. I looked up to see Lindsey, my four year old daughter, standing on the top of the stairs. She still had her pajamas on. Her index and middle finger of her right hand were being sucked gently in her mouth, and her left hand clutched her pink blankee.

“Lindsey, is Zach up yet?”

She shook her head no.

“Well, go wake up your brother, and tell him I said so.”

Lindsey turned to run off towards her brother’s room as I headed over to the coffee pot. I put the pot under the running faucet as I prepared a new filter with the morning coffee in it. I put the filter into the coffee machine, and then I poured the water in. I turned it on and started to hear the coffee percolate through as I checked on the bacon. The bottom side hadn’t cooked enough yet for me to flip it over, but the sizzling sound told me things were going according to schedule.

I opened the cabinet to the left of the oven and pulled out two large mixing bowls. I cracked four eggs into one of the mixing bowls. I poured in some milk, added just the right amount of sugar and flour from the canisters that were on the countertop, and grabbed a whisk hanging from a small hook underneath the cabinets. As I turned on the two burners underneath the griddle, I threw the whisk in the bowl. I popped open the butter, grabbed a spoon from the silverware drawer, took a healthy scoop out of the tub and threw it on the griddle to let it slowly melt down into a brown liquid glaze. I threw some more butter in the other frying pan, and turned the burner under that one on. I checked on the bacon and saw that it was starting to shrink but noticed it was still not ready to flip over.

With the other mixing bowl, I cracked open six more eggs and poured in just a splash of milk. I grabbed the first mixing bowl and started to whisk quickly in order to create a fluid, even batter.

The shower had just turned off. Two kids stumbled into the room and took their seats at the kitchen table; one of them still had her fingers in her mouth. The bowl got placed on the counter so I could pour the orange juice sitting on the table into two juice glasses. I placed one in front of Lindsey and the other in front of Zach. Lindsey took her hand out of her mouth so she could pick up the glass with two hands and drink it down. Her blankee fell to the ground. Zach just sat there and stared at the glass of orange juice.

I quickly picked up the blankee and draped it over Lindsey’s shoulder.

I remember this happening because she looked up at me and smiled, “Thank you, mommy.” Back then I thought I needed more, but now I see all I needed were those little thank yous in order to validate how great a mother I actually was.

I picked up the mixing bowl and started whisking again, I looked over at Zach and gave him the jumpstart he was looking for, “Zach, honey, drink your orange juice. You need to get ready for school.” It seemed to wake him up from his slumber and he picked up his glass to drink it down.

I made my way over to the griddle where the butter had melted evenly. I poured the now perfect batter onto the griddle making eight perfectly round pancakes. I quickly flipped over the bacon at just the right time and grabbed a new whisk from where it hung on its little hook underneath the cabinets. I started to whisk the eggs in the other mixing bowl until they turned into a perfectly smooth yellow liquid. I looked down at the other frying pan and saw the butter had melted as well. I poured the egg mixture into the frying pan and let it sit for a moment.

The pancakes were cooking nicely, the bacon was cooking nicely, the coffee was almost done, and once again I was right on schedule. I grabbed two coffee mugs and placed them at the two open spots on the kitchen table. I worked my way over to the front door, opened it, walked outside, picked up the paper, waved to Sheila, our neighbor across the street, and walked back inside. I pulled the paper out of its plastic wrapper, pulled out the Sports page, placed it on top, and put it on the table in front of Robert’s spot.

I walked over to the paper towels. I pulled off two and folded them in half. I pulled a plate out of the cabinet, and placed the paper towels on top of it. I flipped over the pancakes, and scraped up the eggs so they made fluffy delicious nuggets. I pulled the bacon out of the frying pan and placed it on the plate with the paper towels on them. The paper towels started to soak up the hot grease as the smell of bacon wafted over the kitchen. I poured the excess grease into an empty coffee can I kept under the kitchen sink and placed the hot pan in the sink.

I grabbed the coffee pot filled with coffee and the bottle of French vanilla creamer from the refrigerator. I poured a little splash of the creamer into both of the coffee mugs. I gave myself a little more because I like things sweet, and poured the hot coffee in after it. As soon as I was finished, Robert came down the stairs. He was in the process of tying his red tie I loved so much. It was a good color on him. He was always more of a spring, and the color gave him a sense of flair to his strong jaw and broad shoulders. He came over to where I was standing by his chair. He gave me a quick kiss on my cheek.

“It smells wonderful. You’ve really outdone yourself again, Rachael.”

“Well, I will have it plated up for you in just a second. Why don’t you sit down, get started on the paper, and have a sip of your coffee.”

“You’re too good to me honey,” he said as he sat down and unfolded the Sports page.

“That’s what love is all about,” I replied as I headed back to the stove and pulled out four plates.

The exchange was part of our routine. We had said the same words to each other every morning for the last two years with only slight variations.

Looking back at that moment, I should have been mad about the exchange, but I was so lost in my morning I hadn’t noticed how insulting it actually was. I placed the food on each plate in a formation. Two pancakes at the two o’clock position, four slices of bacon at the ten o’clock position, and a healthy amount of scrambled eggs at the six o’clock position. I usually gave Zach and Robert a few more eggs than Lindsey and me because I believed, as I still do now, it is important for us ladies to keep our girlish figures. That day was no exception. I brought over the boys’ plates first and they dug in right away. By the time I had turned off the stove, placed the dishes in the sink, put the milk back in the fridge, and brought over Lindsey’s and my plates, the boys were already half done eating.

I sat down, unfolded the napkin and placed it gently in my lap. I remember looking over my perfect family and smiling. That morning Robert looked up from his paper to notice the odd expression on my face. “Is everything alright, honey?” he asked me.

I was shaken from my thoughts about how lucky I was to have such a wonderful family and looked back at him. “Yes, everything is perfect. Just enjoy your breakfast honey, or you’ll be late for work.”

“Oh that reminds me,” he said as he shoveled more eggs into his mouth, “I got a weird notification yesterday at work. It said something about a certified letter they were trying to deliver to me yesterday. The post office actually tried to deliver it to me at work. They were having a hard time finding me even though they shouldn’t have tried to deliver it to me there in the first place. Anyway, I was wondering if you had a little extra time today, maybe you could swing by the post office and see if you could pick it up for me.”

“I would love to. I can do it after I drop Zach off at school.”

Robert finished his meal and quickly got up from his seat. He grabbed his briefcase while he was on his way over to where I was sitting. He kissed me on the other cheek this time and I could smell the coffee on his breath as he did so. “Thank you, honey. I knew there was a reason I married you.” And he was off. Behind was left a dirty plate and a pile of crumpled up newspapers. Zach was also finishing up, and he seemed a bit more awake now that he had some food in his stomach. Lindsey continued to try to shovel more of her breakfast into her mouth, but more than half of it landed on her lap. The responsibilities of the day were coming at me with full force and if I wanted to make sure Zach got to school on time I would have to get started, but I was enjoying the feeling the morning had left with me. It was one of those moments when you are truly happy. I had everything I ever wanted: a beautiful house, a wonderful husband, and two amazing children. I let out a sigh of joy and then got up grabbing the dirty plates as I went.

“Come on, Zach. Why don’t you go get dressed? We’ll need to leave for school in just a couple of seconds.”

Zach got up from his seat and looked over at me, “Okay mommy.” He pushed in his chair and ran up the stairs to get ready for school. Lindsey looked longingly after Zach as he ran up the stairs and then she looked back at me.

“Do you want to get ready too?”

She nodded her head up and down.

“Go ahead and get ready like a big girl.”

She smiled at me. She lay down on the seat of her chair and slithered off on her stomach. When her feet touched the ground, she turned around, grabbed her blanket, and then ran up the stairs to get ready like her older brother. My perfect family had left me, and all I had left to remember from it was the remains of a served breakfast. I grabbed the last dirty plate off the table and took it to the sink. I started to wash the dishes as I thought about how truly blessed I was. A lot of my friends would constantly complain about their families when we met for coffee every Tuesday afternoon. Back then I couldn’t understand why they would complain because I was living in the perfect household thanks to my ability as a mother. The government kept assuring us we were living in the age of the mother and they did everything in their power to make sure the good mothers were recognized for what the government believed was the proper way to raise a child.

Other mothers would always complain about how the government was intruding in their houses. They would also complain about the way the system was set up. They thought it was an unfair system that would eventually ensure that all mothers would fail. This way the government could come in and take over the official duties of motherhood.

Usually when the conversation reached this point, I would start to laugh. Why would the government want to take over the duties of motherhood? What could they possibly gain from watching over the youth of America? Where would they find the money needed to make this a reality? It was so preposterous I had to sit back and laugh.

The other mothers didn’t like my laughter. They believed I hadn’t reached the point with my kids yet where this act would cause the same problems they were having with their children. It was only a matter of time when I would start to feel the same pain they were feeling.

I still dismissed it as a just a bunch of whiny ladies who regretted the mistakes they made with their children and were looking for an easy target to blame. The government is always the first one in cases like theirs.

These thoughts raced through my mind as I washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen from the morning’s meal. Right about the time I finished up, Zach and Lindsey had made their way downstairs. They were in the living room watching television before we had to pack up and go to school. I walked into the living room and saw them happily staring into the wonderful world of The Buddy Bears. It is the cartoon brainchild of the Capital Limited Corporation. They constantly show it on the kid’s channel. It is a family of bears called the Buddys. Each ten minute episode has a family problem resolved by the mother using the standards laid out by the Department of Motherhood. Capital Limited claims they work with the Department of Motherhood to produce this show as a way of teaching kids what they need to know when they grow up.

When I went downstairs, they were in the middle of an episode and I knew it would be foolish for me to turn off the television before the episode was over. I had tried doing this once before when Zach was younger and had just started school. He had become so mad he threw a temper tantrum. My actions were a direct violation of Standard Number Two: a child should never be denied the experiences that life has to offer.

I knew by waiting for the commercials to come on, I would have a better chance of not disturbing the natural happiness of my child’s life and I would be able to get him to school easier as well. He might be a little bit late, but really education wasn’t nearly as important as my child’s happiness. So I sat and waited for the antics of my son’s favorite cartoon to end before I rustled him up from the couch and drove him off to school.