Jenna is a single mom who works long hours as a nurse. Feeling guilty about her time away from her son, Jenna encourages him to find a hobby. But when she discovers where he has been spending his extra time, she looks at Devon differently.
Being a night shift nurse is difficult enough, but imagine being a single mother, too.
My sixteen-year-old son, Devon, is the best part of me — since he was born, it has always just been the two of us.
But recently, my work shifts have changed, meaning I cannot be the hands-on mom I aspired to be. Luckily, Devon has been working on potential hobbies — it was just something I wanted him to fill the time until he found something he was passionate about.
“Mom,” he said on the rare night we got to have dinner together. “I think I’m going to take up art classes.”
“That’s great!” I said, relieved that he had taken my advice seriously. “Where are they held?”
“At school. It’s going to be every second day after school. I will need some art supplies of my own, but the school should cover the rest.”
He looked up at me, trying to gauge if we could afford it.
“I’m off this weekend,” I replied. “We’ll go and get everything you need.”
“I’ll do it after school, Mom,” he smiled. “We can do something else together during the weekend.”
The thought of Devon pursuing his interests was a welcome relief — he would be occupied and hopefully enjoy the path he had chosen. I didn’t have a choice about working long hours, but I felt guilty about leaving him at home for such long periods.
A few weeks later, I managed to get a day off, so I wanted to surprise Devon by picking him up after his art class — hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever project he was working on.
I texted him when I arrived at the school so he wouldn’t get on the bus as a habit.
Ice cream date with Mom? I’ll be waiting outside for you.
But the text went unanswered. I assumed he was busy, so I sat in the car, listening to the radio while waiting.
When Devon didn’t show up after about half an hour, I went inside to find him.
“Mrs. Cooper,” I said, peaking through the door to the art studio.
“Jenna!” she beamed. “How can I help you?”
“I’m looking for Devon,” I said.
I told her how Devon had told me about art classes and the little doodles he had left for me on the fridge.
Mrs. Cooper, on the other hand, had no idea what I was talking about. She said that while she has after-school lessons, Devon does not attend any of them.
“I had no idea,” I said, confused and desperate for answers. “Do you know where he could be?”
She hesitated for a moment, shifting from foot to foot.
“Usually, after school, he leaves with a man. I asked him who he was, and he said it was his uncle.”
I felt a chill run down my spine. Devon didn’t have an uncle, at least not in town.
“But he doesn’t have an uncle,” I stammered.
Mrs. Cooper said that Devon mentioned his uncle working in a nearby butchery.
“Maybe you’ll find more answers there?” she added hopefully.
Panic set in as I drove to the busiest part of the town — where the stores were.
There, in the butchery, I saw the truth for myself. Devon wasn’t attending art classes at all. Instead, my teenager had been secretly working at the butcher. He had been trying to ease the strain on my shoulders.
Tears welled in my eyes when I realized that Devon had been paying attention to my absence —instead of brushing it off like a teenager would.
“Mom,” Devon’s voice trembled as he approached me, holding a broom. “I just wanted to help. I saw how tired you’ve been, and sometimes you forget to get milk and bread. And even cereal.”
My heart ached at his words.
“I came here a few weeks ago to get us some burger patties for dinner, and Frank here offered me a part-time job.
“Oh, honey,” I said, hugging him tightly. “You didn’t have to do this. You shouldn’t have to do this.”
“But I wanted to,” he insisted. “I wanted to help. I wanted to work so you wouldn’t have to take so many double shifts at the hospital.”
At that moment, my heart swelled with pride and anguish. Pride for the incredible young man my son had become. In my absence, he had grown up to be exactly who I hoped he would be.
Ultimately, I let Devon finish his shift while I went grocery shopping. When he was done, we got the ice cream date I wanted and spoke about his job.
“I’m going to stay with it, Mom,” he said, shuddering when he took a large spoon of ice cream.
“But you don’t have to,” I repeated. “I’ll figure out my shifts, I promise.”
“I want to,” he said. “And it’s not that long, just three hours after school and until noon on Saturdays. It will help me save us for myself as well.”
I thought about being strict with him — making him quit and just focusing on being a kid. But then I realized that he wasn’t a child anymore. Overnight, my son grew up to be responsible, and he had faith in his decisions, so I had to have that faith, too.
What surprises have your children done for you?
Here’s another story for you | When Joe decided to grow his hair, his classmates started making fun of him. One of his teachers, Mr. Cooper, was a man of conservative values, and he even encouraged the jokes against Joe. But one day, Joe’s father found out about the situation, and he did something shocking.