When all the children’s sports disappeared, the swim mom locked the bathroom door, filled the tub with warm water and a few sloshes of Clorox, and sat on the closed toilet lid to inhale the bleachy, humid air.

The golf mom snuck a sprig of wooden tees into her pocket before tossing her pants into the wash. After the clothes finished drying, she crouched on the sticky floor of the laundry room to pluck the tees out from around the lint trap.

The softball mom, her face and neck slick with sunscreen, sat in her SUV with the sunroof open. In her driveway, she listened to the classic rock station, biting sunflower seeds and spitting the shells between her legs onto the waffled all-weather floormat.

At night, the sports moms dreamt of sweaty hair, hairsprayed into tight ponytails. Handwashing socks in hotel sinks and pinching the wet fabric into rolled-up car windows. Concession-stand coffee with powdered creamer. Unintelligible shouts echoing in the cathedral ceilings of gyms, pools, rinks, and nondescript steel buildings. Once, the basketball mom dreamt herself climbing the bleachers in high heels, losing her balance for just a moment before gripping the wobbly steel handrail and gasping awake. 

Some moms could subscribe and pay to see miniature two-dimensional versions of their children doing sports. They watched on phones in parking lots, laptops on the dining room table. But these flat children with blurred faces didn’t feel like the same ones who had years ago nursed at the moms’ breasts, grasping at the moms’ necklaces as the early evening sun sliced through the blinds of a dim nursery.

So the soccer mom knifed and quartered a dozen oranges and carried them outside to the bird feeder tray. The cheer mom added a few glittery dog collars to her online shopping cart. And in the backyard at sunrise, the tennis mom wrapped herself in a microfleece blanket. Shook open a portable canvas chair. Sipped her K-cup coffee from a travel mug cradled in the mesh cupholder. Watched through the chain-link fence as the neighbor’s cat chased a dead leaf in the wind.

***

Jessie Lovett Allen is originally from western New York and currently teaches English at North Platte Community College in western Nebraska. She holds an MA in English and a PhD in Literacy Education. Jessie enjoys loitering around the MFA program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she irregularly takes classes.  Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Bending Genres, The Forge, and JMWW. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart. Twitter: @jesslovettallen