Valentine’s Day

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“Tomorrow is Valentine’s day Honey”, my wife mentioned. “So?” I responded. “Nothing. Maybe you’ve got plans”, she said with a big smile. “I’m tired”, I uttered. Valentine’s was a big thing for my wife. She wanted to make every moment special for us because we only live once. We were married for thirty years and she never missed any special occasions. It became an ordinary day to me as life was always stressful. Problems never go away. We’re stuck with them. On our wedding day, I promised to my wife that I would make her happy every day. I’d be there when she needed me. And I would follow her through every struggle we would encounter. But celebrating occasions like Valentine’s Day has never been my thing. I didn’t understand why it had to be important for women.

Two years ago on a Valentine’s Day, my wife bought tickets to Florida. She made reservations in a nice hotel along the beach. It was winter where we lived and I would love to go there. However, I couldn’t leave work as the company’s president would arrive the day after Valentine’s Day. Since we couldn’t go to Florida, my wife prepared a dinner at home with candles and flower petals on the table and on the floor. She was dressed up and put on light make-up. She looked beautiful and always had been beautiful in my eyes. I asked what the occasion was and she said it was Valentine’s Day. She served garden salad with Italian sauce and coconut shrimp for an appetizer then a lobster tail for our main course. She also baked heart-shaped chocolate cake with cherry on top for desert. After we ate, I went to bed right away as I was tired and all I wanted was to relax. I noticed her eyes were red as if she had just cried. I ignored it and went to sleep. The Valentine’s before that year, we were supposed to go to California but I had a busy day at work. She made dinner but I came home late. She was already asleep when I arrived home. She slept with an empty stomach as she waited for me to come home.

The day after my conversation with my wife about Valentine’s, I had seen fliers of Hawaii in our room. I thought she bought tickets to Hawaii as even though she knew we wouldn’t be able to go. I had an important meeting at work the next morning and I couldn’t miss it. I told her about it and she frowned. As I fell asleep, I had a dream. My wife had a heart attack while she was preparing our dinner. I got up from bed and I thought I was not dreaming anymore. I went to the kitchen to get water but as soon as I looked away, I saw my wife lying on the kitchen floor. She was dead and food was all over the floor as if she was making our dinner when she died. Smoke came out from the oven and the frying pan was on fire. I carried my wife and called out for my son. As I was screaming, my wife woke me up. “Thank God. It’s just another dream”, I whispered. I hugged my wife and told her that I love her. I never mentioned my nightmare as I didn’t want to worry her. Then, I went back to bed.

The next day, I cancelled my meeting and bought plane tickets to Hawaii. I spent the rest of the week with my wife. I brought her to a different seafood restaurant as she loved seafood. We got to experience the fantastic night life of Honolulu. It was amazing and we had so much fun. On Valentine’s night, I gave my wife thirty roses symbolizing our wedding years. I rented a beach resort with just the two of us there and hired a pianist to play a song for us. The pianist played our wedding song and I invited my wife to dance with me like the old times. It was a wonderful night and I wished it never ended. The smile I saw on my wife’s face was priceless. I was such a horrible husband as I never made her smile like that before. I hugged my wife tightly and told her,” I love you.” “I love you too but you must wake up. You have a busy day ahead,” my wife said. “Am I still dreaming?” I asked her. “Yes you are. It’s February 14th today. You need to get up. Hurry!” My wife uttered. I suddenly woke up as my alarm rang. It was already 8 o’clock in the morning and the meeting I was supposed to attend had already started. I told my wife to get up and help me make breakfast as I decided to cancel my meeting that day. But, she was not waking up. I planned on going to Hawaii with her and doing just what had happened in my dreams, but my wife was already dead. I slapped my face several times because maybe it was just another dream but it was surreal. It broke my heart a thousand times as I didn’t get to make it up to her for the last time.

After her funeral, I pulled our wedding picture out of its frame. I saw my wife’s handwriting on the back of the photo and it said, “It was the best day of my life – February 14th”. Then I realized that February 14th was our wedding anniversary. Tears fell and everything started to sink in. It was the reason why Valentine’s Day was extremely important to her. How could I have forgotten it? I learned from the day I lost her that she had health issues too. She hid it from me as she thought it would be another problem I had to deal with. I felt so wrong about how I treated my wife. I broke all my promises on our wedding day. She deserved way better and I wished I could make it all right. But it’s too late. Since I lost her, I always tell my son to cherish every moment with his wife as life is too short and we can never bring people back.

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The Lioness

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On July 26, 1977, a precious little girl was born. Her parents named her Lauren and she weighed 7 lbs.  She was a healthy and beautiful baby. She was the only child the couple had and they provided everything she needed. She couldn’t be called a ‘spoiled brat’ as she was strictly following her parent’s demands. As she was growing up, her parents were overprotective. She only ate healthy food and was adamant about sanitation. She could not be friends with just anybody unless her parents said so. She was always dressed nicely and appropriately. Her parents would bring her to exclusive events where only politicians and well-known people around their town could attend. She learned to socialize the wealthy way and people expected more from her as she was the daughter of somebody who had an extraordinary role in their town. But, it was a tiring role for her as she wanted to have a simple life. She feared disappointing the people who were counting on her someday as she believed that she couldn’t make great accomplishments like her parents did.

Two years after she graduated in college, she was expected to work for the family business and would take it over someday. But she was dismayed as she wanted to build her own empire through hard work and dedication. She didn’t want to bypass hard work but wanted to start from scratch instead. Her parents ignored her desires and appointed her as the new manager. She didn’t have a choice but to obey her parents. She worked as a manager for a year but she didn’t seem to enjoy what she was doing. So she asked her parents to provide her capital as she was planning to buy a franchise from one of these promising fast food chains around their area. Her parents couldn’t believe that she would rather promote processed food than the fresh food which she always had eaten and what her family’s business was into. She knew her parents would not agree but she had no ill intentions. She did not dream of what her future would become as she had plans for herself. So she left to find herself.

She went to Greece to take her mind off of reality. She wanted to become a writer and a photographer. She took pictures of everything she discovered in Greece and published a story about it. However, she realized nobody noticed her first story but she thought that it was only the beginning. She had fun in Greece as it was one of the most beautiful countries in the world. People were kind and hospitable. Their food was appetizing too. After her expedition in Greece, she then went to Spain. She did the same thing. She took pictures and published another story. She stayed for another week in Barcelona as she wanted to explore more. Then next country she visited was France. She loved Paris. She found all kinds of interesting stuff there. She tried things that tourists typically do when they get to Paris. She thought about finding love but she didn’t find anything serious. So she went to Italy to see and experience what the country had. She was amazed by the medieval icons and places she witnessed. She stayed in Venice. It was where she finally found the love of her life. His name is Anthony. He was not from Venice and was also visiting the place at that moment.

Lauren was amazed by what she discovered at the Vatican Museum. As she flipped around to see tapestries on the wall, she densely bumped into Anthony’s chest. She stuttered and felt embarrassed. Anthony asked if she was okay and apologized because he was not paying attention to his surroundings. Lauren told him that she was okay and not to worry about it. Then, Anthony asked if she was alone as he noticed she was not from Venice and a tourist as well. After a stroll around the museum, they went to a café. They talked and had fun. Anthony escorted Lauren on her way back to the hotel and realized they were staying in the same hotel. They laughed and called each other ‘stalkers’ at the same time which brought them into more laughter.

On the next day, Anthony waited for Lauren to come out from her room as he wanted to invite her for breakfast downtown. But she had already left early in the morning to exercise as it was her daily morning routine. After an hour of waiting, Anthony went back to his room and waited for another 3 hours to invite Lauren for lunch. He accidentally saw Lauren in the hallway while she was on her way out to visit the cathedral. He told Lauren that he would go with her and was wondering if she wanted to grab lunch with him. Loren thought it was sweet and so they went out together. They became friends and started going out together throughout their short stay in Venice. After a week, Lauren thought of visiting Berlin and asked Anthony if he wanted to go with her. However, Anthony had only come to see Venice and had to go back for work. It was a sad moment for both of them as they had to say goodbye. Anthony gave his address to Lauren in case she ever wanted want to shoot him a letter.

After Lauren’s tour in Germany, she finally came back home. Her parents were so mad at her because they thought that she was slacking from her responsibilities. Lauren finally told them what she wanted but her parents disapproved of it. Her parents told her to go back to work as she already spent more than enough of her leave credits and that she wouldn’t get paid for the next 3 months. She went back to work but was still frustrated with the situation. She remembered that Anthony gave her his address. She never looked it up until the day she remembered it. She was surprised as she found out that he lived 5 hours away from her. She went to visit him and Anthony was happy to see her. They couldn’t believe that they met in Venice as they lived not so far from each other. Anthony then thought that she was maybe destined for him as they would never meet again if they were not. From then on, Anthony and Lauren were secretly seeing each other. It was after a year before Lauren’s parents learned about their relationship as her father sent somebody to follow her. Her dad was extremely mad with her when he found it out. He couldn’t believe that their daughter would date a guy who had no stable career. They were expecting her to choose a desirable man to date. Loren fought for her love and it left her penniless. She resigned at her job and her parents cut off their support for her. They removed her name from the company and she would never get anything from it.

Since then, Lauren learned to live simple. She struggled with life as she encountered criticisms from people whom loved her except for Anthony. He stood beside her and they fought together. They moved out of the city where Anthony lived as people started attacking them. He was fired from his previous job because of Lauren’s dad’s doings. Even Lauren couldn’t get a job and she felt like it was her fault that Anthony had to live that way because of her. Anthony never abandoned Lauren as he loved her just as much. They moved to the other side of the country where people didn’t know them. Lauren never contacted her parents again as she knew they would make her suffer leaving her with no option but to return to them and reconcile. She had enough of being told what to do and was dedicated to move on and build her own career as a writer and a photographer. One day, she visited a tattoo shop. She got a lion tattoo on her back as it symbolizes braveness and fearlessness. She believed that she was a lioness and every trial that she encountered, she would fight back and would never give up. She applied for dozens of jobs until she was finally hired by a broadcasting company.

She started as a local news columnist. It was an exciting job for her as she went to live events whether it was or was not dangerous just to get a scoop on the story. One time, she was asked to write a feature story presenting the hotels and restaurants owned by her parents. Her boss didn’t know that she was the owner’s daughter as Lauren was secretive with her life story to her colleagues. She didn’t want to see her parents again and didn’t want them to know where she was. She told her boss that she couldn’t do it and would just cover another story instead. Her boss was intrigued by what her reasons were for turning down the story. But Lauren remained quiet and never told him the truth. Her boss then sent another reporter to interview the owners. Later in the interview, Lauren’s name was acknowledged by her parents as they were worried about her and where she was and asked her to come home. However, Lauren was determined to accomplish what she started before she could face her parents again. And when they were ready to accept Anthony and their marriage, only then would she consider reconciliation.

She strived hard to meet her goals and worked with several companies where she thought she could grow her career. She then became a live news reporter on television. She published thousands of copies of her stories about the different countries she visited as well as a biography on her own life story. Her stories were distinguished and her readers were amused by her love story. Every story she published sold out and the public demanded for more. She became a popular writer and a famous photographer. She left news casting after she published her second story. Anthony was very proud of her and was finally accepted by her parents. Anthony became her partner in their own publishing company and her co-photographer.

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The Bride

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“Don’t take me! Please, I’m begging you!” Ross was screaming as we slept. She had been having nightmares two weeks before our wedding day. I had never seen her struggling with her sleep before and overcome with fear. Everything seemed normal to me but Ross had been acting strange since she started having nightmares. She said that she was cursed and couldn’t get married. Ross actually came from a village with many superstitions. She handed me a piece of cloth a year ago and told me it would serve as my protection from evil spirits. I laughed at her and didn’t believe her. But saw no harm in it. So I took it with me everywhere I went until now.

I wanted to bring her to a psychologist for some tests but she refused and said that nobody could help her. I asked her to explain to me what’s bothering her and she told me about a nightmare. She mentioned a guy with vague details as in the dream. She didn’t recognize him but the message was clear. She was not allowed to get married because the guy in her nightmare had already claimed her. She had the same dream when she turned 18 but had ignored it. What’s more concerning is that she had repetitive dreams over and over as our wedding day drew near. I seriously didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to think that my future wife is crazy.

Ross’ parents and sister all died from nightmares. It’s surreal to think about it but it was the cause of their deaths, not a stroke or anything. They all died in their sleep. Ross feared meeting the same fate. A week before our wedding, Ross brought live chickens and butchered them inside the house. She said that they were offerings and that she needed to do it everyday. She performed a ritual with it that would supposedly drive the spirit away. Her ritual included a speaking an incoherent dialect, then she sang, and covered the bowl of chicken blood with a black towel. It is supposed to have trapped the evil spirit and isolated it. At that point, I didn’t know what to believe anymore. I wanted to help Ross but I didn’t know where to start. She refused to go to a doctor and didn’t want to discuss it with other people. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions that she was going crazy at first but it became too overwhelming.

One day as I came home from work, I found Ross lying on the floor. I panicked and carried her up. I wanted to bring her to the hospital but she refused it again and said, “it was over”. I wondered what was over and she told me the spirit is gone. She was finally relaxed throughout the night and slept good. She didn’t have anymore nightmares and woke up happy the next morning. She spent the whole day finalizing our wedding preparations and I didn’t see anything strange with her again.

As Ross was slowly walking down the aisle, I noticed an unfamiliar guy entering the church door staring at me. I ignored him and concentrated on my soon to be bride. Ross looked very beautiful in her wedding dress. I couldn’t imagine what’s my life going to be like without her. Tears were falling from my eyes as she walked closer. It was the best day of my life, of course. She was officially becoming Mrs. Dale and nothing was more important in this world than her. Our wedding went as planned and I thanked Ross for making my dreams come true.

We had  a long day. We had the reception at my parent’s farm and everything went great. But the stranger I saw from the church was at the reception too. I was sure he wasn’t on our guest list as I know everybody who was invited. I wanted to talk to him and ask him who he was but as soon as I was walked up to him, Ross grabbed my attention. The man suddenly disappeared and I couldn’t see him anywhere. I had goosebumps and felt discomfort. Ross didn’t see him either, not even in the church. I asked my parents but they didn’t notice him either.

On our first night of being married, Ross was busy opening gifts from our wedding then prepared our luggage for the honeymoon. I just stared at her all night. Her bright face brought me happiness, her love kept me alive, and everything about her inspired me to keep going.

I got up early the next morning  to surprise Ross with breakfast in bed. I made her my special pancakes and coffee. I waited for a couple minutes and stood in front of the bed holding her food. The wind blew the curtain down and made a loud noise as the curtain rod hit the floor but it didn’t even wake her up. So I decided to wake her up because we’re suppose to go to our honeymoon in 2 hours. Ross wasn’t breathing! She was pronounced deceased the same day.  She had been so excited about our honeymoon the night before and I wish  we had experienced it. I blamed myself for not believing in Ross’ nightmares and could have done more to persuade her to talk about it with a professional. She should be still alive if I didn’t marry her. I should have listened to her. It’s all my fault. Everything started to make sense when she passed away. The guy from Ross’ nightmares and the stranger at our wedding was not a coincidence. It was the same man.

Ross’ last words to me were, “I love you and always remember that. When I’m gone, promise me you will go on with your life and will stay strong. Find a woman who can bring you happiness, take good care of you, and love you as much as I do.  And when I leave, don’t be sad… because my love for you is eternal. I will still love you, even on the other side.”

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True Love

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I met a girl from school and her name is Jane. She’s adorable, sweet, and smart. Her beautiful soul makes her perfect. Most students admired her just like I did. I wanted to approach her several times but I couldn’t. Something was holding me back and I couldn’t get near her. She’s like too precious to be friends with a guy like me. I was a bully but coward in real life. She became my inspiration. I started being good with other students, improved on my grades and joined the football team until I graduated in high school.

I would be writing her poems, letters and songs everyday but I never sent it. I doubted she would even read them. After graduating in our senior high, we went to the same school in college. I was still a coward and never approached her. There were times she walked in front of me but I never talked to her, not even a simple “hi”. She would looked at me though and smile but I know that’s just the way she is. She smiles to everybody. However, she motivated me although she didn’t know I even exist.


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One day, I saw Jane in a pet store. I greeted her and tried my way in to have a little talk. She couldn’t believe that we would see each other again after high school and college. She remembered me and I was overwhelmed. So I asked her to go out with me for a dinner. Since that day, I wasn’t afraid of what she may think of me anymore.

As I was preparing for our dinner, I thought of bringing the poems I made for her but it’s a little early to show her. I picked her up from her parent’s house and we went to a steak restaurant. The dinner went great and I asked her if we could go out again sometime and she was okay with it. We went out few times and had fun together. We talked a lot about our high school and college experiences. She worked in a bank after college and I went to an engineering firm. We went from good friends to best friends and to dating. I never thought the day would come and she would love me. I was the happiest man on earth.


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A few years later, I asked her to marry me. We built a small house 10 miles away from her parent’s before we got married. We did the wedding in the church and had the reception at our house. I honestly couldn’t believe it happened. She was just a dream until everything became real. I love her to death. Two years later after the wedding, she gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Lori. Jane quit working and became a full time loving wife and a mother.

We spent the rest of our lives full of love and hope. We grew old together until Jane passed away in 2014. She died from cancer and it was hard to let her go. Jane is the love of my life and will always be. I couldn’t imagine myself being with another woman if not Jane.

-Troy Khastanov

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A Beating Husband

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On November 28, 2013, Fiona was rushed in the hospital from multiple injuries. Her husband, Leo, beat her badly and left her unconscious on the living room floor. A concerned neighbor called the cops after hearing loud noises from Fiona’s house. Fiona recovered from her injuries after a month and attended her therapy sessions regularly. Leo spent the following three years in jail and recently got out. Fiona is still traumatized from the incident and can never forgive him. Their divorce papers are still in process and they will be facing the judge soon.


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Fiona and Leo got married in their early 20’s. They used to be a happy couple but couldn’t bear a child. Leo had problems with his testicles and couldn’t reproduce. Fiona was okay with it and it was never been a big deal to them. Although, she thought of adopting a baby a few years later but she was afraid the kid might be endangered because of Leo. He changed a lot but remained short tempered. He’s irritable and unapproachable. He always complained about his job and back pains. He got stressed out about not having sufficient money to support him and his wife. He would take it out on his wife always but had never been arrested. Fiona stayed gentle with him and served him. She’s a fulltime housewife and babysits twice a week. She gets paid from it and would keep the money for her emergency as her husband complains when she touches his money. She would hear her husband complaining about snacks she bought for herself too when they go grocery shopping. She cut off her expenses and only gets a biscuit and a bottled juice. She would get some meat and vegetables but only she wanted to cook for her husband. She doesn’t normally cook as they don’t get much groceries every time.

Leo never heard Fiona complaining about their lifestyle but rather stayed strong despite of how he treated her. She tried to keep the money she gets from babysitting but Leo knew. Whenever he asked it from her, she gives it with no second thoughts. Fiona was broke since she moved in with her husband and never had the chance to hold money while with him. She wanted to work fulltime but only to help her husband with their expenses and never thought about her own needs. However, she struggled with getting a job because of few vacancies and they lived in a small town. She was stuck for 2 years.


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She never stopped looking for jobs through online and finally found something she’s capable of. Few days later, she was interviewed and got hired. She started working in a bank fulltime and making good money. She worked at night shift and gets home around 3am. She hardly saw her husband from then and not much luck with quality time either on a weekend. After several months, she was transferred to a dayshift which works for her better. Leo didn’t know about her work hours changing and Fiona was going to surprise him until she caught Leo in their room video calling with another woman. They were both naked and doing something else. Fiona got so mad and she had enough. She heard him talking to somebody else a couple times but she ignored it. She thought that it was just nothing. Fiona and Leo got into a big fight. He treated her like an animal and punched her in the face and stomach, kicked her in the head, pulled and pushed her corners to corners and left her lying on the floor when he was done.

Natalie, Fiona’s neighbor and friend, called the cops as soon as she heard Fiona crying and begging Leo to stop. The police officers arrived right away and arrested Leo. Fiona had serious cuts on her head, her left arm was dislocated and bruises all over her face and body. She was rushed to the hospital and her surgery went well. Her parents had no idea what was going on with her marriage until they came to see her in the hospital. Fiona never talked back against Leo to anybody because she loved him. Not even with her parents. Fiona had night mares every night while at the hospital and traumatized from what happened for quite some time.


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Fiona went back to her parents’ house and lives there until now. Her previous job rehired and relocated her to one of their branches in her hometown. She’s now taking classes for Business Administration and turning 28 soon.

“I thought it was the end of my life but God is good. He saved me from the monster.”

-Fiona

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How Moms Think…

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“As a wife, I don’t just look out for my husband, I secure my children’s health and future too.”

My babies call me Mommy Laura but my students call me Teacher Lauradel. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a caring wife to my husband. Being a wife and a mother are two different responsibilities. I have to be as reliable as I can for my kids so I can guide them to a better path and a loving wife to fulfill my duties with my husband. That’s how I make my family intact; worry free and peaceful. Like many other moms, I get stressed out and tired too. However, I make sure I keep myself together. No one is perfect they said but there’s nothing wrong with trying. I give my very best with my family to support and protect them just like with my students at school.


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Here’s my daily routine. I wake up at 6’oclock in the morning to prepare breakfast and get my kids ready for school. Prepare them lunches and make sure my husband doesn’t leave any of his valuable stuff before getting off to work too. Then, I clean up and get ready for work. I leave the house at 7:30am. I get to school at around 7:50am. Classes take up to 8 hours and I get off around 5’oclock in the afternoon. I always have a busy day. Weekends are for house cleaning. My daughters are 5 and 10 years old so they’re not much help with chores right now.

There came a time in my life that I felt like giving up on my career as a public school teacher and wanted to be a plain house wife. My eldest daughter almost got hit by a car along the street twice when she was younger and I was at school teaching during those times. What happened was, my husband was tired from work and fell asleep while our daughter was out in the street without his knowledge. She then ran in the middle of the street while a car was approaching in the same direction. The driver was able to pull over as quickly as he could and nothing happened to my daughter. I was thankful from above that my sweet child was safe but I felt so irresponsible because of the incident. I should’ve checked on my daughter before going to my next class. I cut my class and rushed home. I lost my temper with my husband as soon as I saw him and blamed him for it. But in the end, I knew I was at fault too. I could never forgive myself if something happened to my precious little girl but she almost got hit again by another car a month after. That time, I was very mad at the driver. Like, who gets drunk at 6pm? He almost ran over my kid with his car over speeding. I immediately called the cops to arrest him. He was sorry but his apology can never replace my daughter if he hit her. Even if he did not, he still put my kid in danger.


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After those two incidents, I then decided to stay at home. I resigned from my job and worked fulltime as a mom. I was there for my kids 24/7 and never left them out of my sight. A year after of being a housewife, I noticed my husband was always stressed out. He didn’t tell me what was wrong even if I asked him. He had been staying up late and busy thinking of something. I thought it was his job bothering him but it was because our savings were almost gone. I felt bad of spending too much like I used to with groceries and shopping for my kids’ clothes. So I decided to go back to work. My husband didn’t agree with my decision but we need to help each other to keep our family funded.

We hired a sitter to look out for our kids after classes and they’re well-behaved so far. No sneaking out to the street anymore and they know what risk it could bring them. I guess I have to thank the new technology too for making my kids busy after school! I’m finally at relived happy.

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Bad Moms