uvy yawned as she stumbled into the kitchen. She was used to sleeping late Sunday mornings, but her father had asked her to babysit this morning

“Good morning, Huvy!” Rina was standing by the stove, flipping pancakes. “Breakfast?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Rina instantly placed a plate of pancakes in front of her. “And here’s a strawberry yogurt smoothie,” she added. “Your favorite. I made it special.”

Huvy shifted uncomfortably. “Thanks. You didn’t have to.”

Rina gave her a glowing smile. “But I wanted to.” She turned off the burner and sat down across from Huvy. “So, tell me about your plans for today.”

Huvy squirmed. Ever since the big documentary revelation, her mother had been bending over backwards to show how much she cared about Huvy. It wasn’t that Huvy didn’t appreciate the effort. But she was finding it kind of smothering.

As soon as she came home from school, Mommy was hovering over her, preparing her favorite foods, asking how her day was, and actually sitting down to listen to every blow-by-blow.

Boy, was it uncomfortable. Especially when Huvy felt like hiding every time she thought about what she’d said in that documentary. When she knew that, deep down, Mommy must be furious at her for revealing all of this to Gabriella. How could she not be?

“Well, um, I told Abba I’d go over and babysit. He and… um…”  Even after all these years, she still didn’t know how to refer to her stepmother when talking to Mommy. Calling her Ima seemed hurtful, but using her first name was disrespectful. “Um, they need to go to a meeting with Rivka’s tutor this morning.”

Rina stiffened, and her voice got cooler. “Oh, I didn’t realize.” She took a sip of smoothie and put down the glass. “You’ve been going to your father’s a lot recently.”

Huvy fiddled with her fork. Yes, she knew it. But after the intense weeks in Bulgaria — and the discomfort of being her mother’s all-abiding concern in life right now — it felt good to go to a place where things were calm and understated. Where everyone just accepted her for who she was and made no demands that she move one iota past her comfort zone.

She looked up at her mother and shrugged. “They need lots of help. You know, the baby.”

Rina pursed her lips. Then she said, “Well, I’m glad you’re able to help, of course. But—” She stopped abruptly and took another sip.

But this is the third time in a week that you’re going over there. Her mother didn’t have to say it. She was hurt.

Huvy continued eating silently. She would not feel guilty. It was not her problem that her parents were divorced. She would not feel guilty.

Sighing, she finished eating quickly and stood up. “Thanks for the breakfast, Mommy.”

Rina nodded. “Have a good day,” she said, too brightly.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 641)