When Denver stay-at-home mom Becky Montgomery caught her husband of twenty years in their bed with another woman, she never dreamed her three children would blame her for the resulting divorce. Feeling like maternal failures, she and two friends--feisty PI Sam and No-Ones-Accused-Me-Of-Being-Mother Teresa--form the Bad Mothers Club in order to deal with their various child-related heartaches more positively. When her ex-husband, Jack, is accused of murdering Becky's first post-divorce date, the Bad Mothers set out to prove his innocence, but only for the sake of her children. These Bad Mothers have faced everything from terrible twos and sleep deprivation to rebellious teens and heartbreak--they're not about to let a mere murderer stop them from winning the Worst Mother of the Month award.
If I thought spending five depressing hours buying all black school clothes for my youngest daughter was the worst part of my day, I was wrong. I parked in my driveway to find Kramer sitting on my front porch. Normally Kramer would be the bright spot in my day, and I’d be delighted that he’d once again chosen my place over Jack’s, but today I was too emotionally drained to handle the inevitable upheaval caused by his arrival. I especially didn’t want to see Jack today. Plus my living room was full of stuff that I was in the process of boxing up and giving to the thrift store. Uncluttering my life. “Seinfeld is back!” Delighted, my daughter Gina was a black blur as she raced up to the door and scooped him into her arms. I followed, trudging slowly toward the place I used to love coming home to. A two-story brick home with flower beds lining the walk and the fence. It used to be a haven. Unlocking the door, I stepped from Denver’s August heat wave into my cool entryway. With a sigh, I scratched him behind the ears. “Didn’t you listen to what any of those high-powered attorneys said, Kramer? You’ve got to remember you don’t live here any more.” “Mother, his name is Seinfeld.” Mother? Since when had my sixteen-year-old daughter started calling me Mother? It sounded so foreign. So detached. So extremely self-righteous. And the prim tone seemed more than a little strange coming from a confused teenage girl dressed entirely in goth black. “Dad named him Seinfeld cuz he’s so funny,” she explained as if I’d lived in a bubble for the past five years since we got the cat. A cat who valued a forty-four-year-old woman, unlike some husbands. “But he keeps coming back through our door just like Kramer.” I went for flippant as I reached out to stroke the cat’s soft brown-and-white fur. “Complete with crazy stand-on-end hair.” “Seinfeld,” she repeated firmly, as though that ended all argument, forever. Lowering the cat to the floor, she raised an eyebrow and continued her insistent argument. “We should call him the name Dad wants. He paid for him, fair and square.” “Yes, he did.” I turned my head to hide my smile. Jack had made a huge concession in our not-quite-finalized divorce papers: I could have the antique sideboard I loved, the one that had belonged to his grandmother, in exchange for him keeping his cat. The sideboard seemed to like it at my house. Unfortunately for Jack, Kramer did, too. I shook my head. “If he’s Dad’s cat, then why does he keep coming over here all the time?” “Because you feed him tuna.” Note to self: Buy more tuna. I studied the cat. “I guess I could let him starve, if you think that would be better.” “Ha, ha, you’re so funny, Mom.” Gina rolled her eyes and threw out her next words like a gauntlet. “I’m going to call Dad and tell him to come get Seinfeld.”
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Dear sweet Gina, who’d gone goth about the same instant her father had moved out of the house ten months earlier, who I’d spent the last five hours helping choose school clothes in her favorite colors--black, ebony, dark gray, and shadow--so her clothes would match her fingernails and lipstick. It made me sad just to look at her, especially since I knew the depth of emotional confusion she was attempting to conceal under her absence-of-all-colors shield. Gently, I left her verbal gauntlet on the floor, and offered an alternative, trying to mollify her by using her father’s preferred name for Kramer. “Why don’t we drop Seinfeld off at your father’s condo on our way to register for school tomorrow morning?” That solution would be perfect, because at ten in the morning neither Jack nor Jill would be home. I know, I know. Jack and Jill. The names alone are almost too cute for words. Together, they make me gag, with or without their names. Sometimes I just call them Jerk and Jill. Never in front of my children, of course; just to my best friend, Teresa Curtis. And with a story involving Jack and Jill, which part do I play, exactly? Mother Freaking Goose? “No, Mom.” Gina shook her head. “I want to see Dad tonight.” Starting to shake my head, I looked into her eyes and tried hard not to let her obvious hurt sway me. She picked up the phone. “Do you have a problem with me calling him?” “Now?” Was she kidding? The last thing I wanted was my soon-to-be-ex dropping by while the house and my hair were such a mess. The closer the divorce had come to being final--and we were at about three weeks and counting now--the more I regretted the loss of the marriage. Not Jack as he’d become so much as Jack as he used to be. I missed my intact family, the memories, the good times, the hopes and dreams. I wished we could at least stay together until the kids were grown. I’d like to go back to when my family sat around my kitchen table for dinner, when my children weren’t upset with me for how things turned out, before my youngest daughter had decided black was a lifestyle. And the more I dealt with both the impending freight train of a divorce and my still confused feelings about getting left at the last station, the more I found myself uncluttering my house, racing through rooms like a mad woman intent on tossing memories. The ties that bind no longer bound me, but remnants remained in every room, and I was determined to eradicate them. Unfortunately, some of those released-but-not-yet-tossed memories lay piled around the living room, the same room Jack would see in fifteen minutes or so, the amount of time it would take him to drive from the fancy condo he shared with his mistress to the house he used to share with me. Could I toss everything back in the guest room in fifteen minutes? I didn’t want to. I had spent hours going through this stuff, and now it would likely get all jumbled up again. One step forward, two steps back. I wanted desperately to tell Gina not to call. But at the need I saw in her eyes, I tamped down my resentment at her father and his betrayal. If my daughter’s happiness depended on seeing her father tonight, who was I to dim the expectant light in her eyes? I suppressed a sigh and forced a smile. “No problem, honey. Go ahead and call him.”