I walk into the living room and it’s not even that bad. A few books scattered and some sheets of music on the floor and a drinking glass left on the shelf, and some of the clutter, honestly, is mine. But I walk in and see them sitting and relaxing and it boils up in me and the words rush out at them. Immediately I’m sorry. I’m wrong and I know it, and I try to make it right but the words are already out there, lives of their own in sarcastic syllables.

I know I’m tired and it’s been a long couple of weeks and I can give all the reasons why, but it doesn’t matter. They’re tired too, and they’ve been working hard and pitching in and I had no right.

I apologize and we try to find our footing again. It’s the middle boy, all sixteen-year-old wisdom, who says the words.

I think you’re just too busy, Mom.

They cut me, these words, but I know the truth of them. He’s right. I’ve let it happen. All these good things, crowding out these good children.

I stop right there and I put them first. I write a new list and I put their names at the top and I tell them so.

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To be honest, it helps. When the list is ordered right, when the most important are made the most important, the rest falls into place.

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