It had been one of those mornings. Aviva had started off behind, because she’d fallen asleep too early the night before, and hadn’t prepared the kids’ lunches. It hadn’t helped when Kayla stalked into the kitchen and asked for a smoothie for breakfast. And then Chaim wanted an omelet. And Tzippi needed $50 for a class trip — and a signed note because she’d lost the permission slip. 

Then Chaim remembered that he hadn’t done his math homework, and Shira came downstairs crying because she had no clean uniform shirts (“Tzippi keeps stealing mine, just because we’re the same size!”). And Chavi, of course, was still glowering at her from yesterday, when she’d come home from school in a huff and slammed a paper down on the table: her Navi report, with a big, red D written on top of it. 

If someone gave marks for mothering, she was sure her grade wouldn’t be any better than Chavi’s. 

Feeling like a total failure, Aviva slipped out of the bedlam of her house, leaving Zevi to do carpools and lift everyone’s mood (how could he bounce in from shul with a perky, “Great morning, chevreh!” with all the shouting and crying going on?). But not before she heard his cheery, “See you soon!” wafting out the door along with her. 

As if she needed reminding. 

She’d had plenty of time to regret whatever had possessed her to allow Zevi to take the secretarial position. What had she been thinking? And what, for that matter, was Zevi thinking, wanting to spend half his day playing receptionist? The more she thought about it, the less sense it made. Yet Zevi seemed to be looking forward to this, as if it were his ticket to financial success. 

Not that he had spent his working career up until now pretending that success mattered. 

She entered the clinic and was greeted by Esti, her grad-student shadow. She stopped. No. It wasn’t Tuesday. It definitely wasn’t Tuesday. Why was Esti here? 

Esti bounded over. “Hi, Aviva! I switched my day this week, remember?” 

“Oh, that’s right.” Just what she needed right now. 

Even though it had been her idea to bring in these students, she was starting to realize she hadn’t properly thought the thing through. There was something about having an overeager girl sticking to you like gum on your shoe that was profoundly irritating. 

“What’s on the schedule today?” Esti hopped alongside Aviva as she gathered up her materials. “Do we have that stuttering case again? Yay! I love stuttering!” 

She loves stuttering. 

A voice wafted at them: “Personally, I think voice disorders are better.” 

Aviva turned to see Yael walking behind them, grinning. “Vocal nodules, they’re just the greatest!” 

Esti gave Yael an uncertain smile, clearly not getting it. Aviva tried not to laugh. Feeling her mood suddenly lighten, she gave a friendly, “How are you, Yael?” 

Yael glowed in surprise. “Fine, thanks!”