Our Four Moms
Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Romance, Holiday, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - April 22 - May 10, 2013
Written: December 29, 2017, January 7, February 1,11, March 2, 2018
Summary: Having four mothers is a blessing, most of the time.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): “Noa Grows Up” and “Dad vs Daddy”
Our Four Moms
“Kids, let's go!” Jack called out. He looked at his watch and pondered, ~What the heck are they doing?~
“Here we are,” Jonny announced on behalf of the Munchkins as they walked into the entryway.
“We're here, too,” Jenny declared for herself and her twin.
“We're missing two,” the father observed. “Stay here,” he instructed the five young ones. He headed into the living room and approached the stairs when he came to an abrupt halt upon seeing Lulu walking down the steps as if on a death march. “Lulu.”
“Noa won't come, Dad. She won't even get out of bed.”
Jack sighed. Chenoa was in a sad place and had been since February when Teal'c and Janet announced their engagement. The Mouseketeer was heartbroken and was motivated to do almost nothing except care for her Shetland ponies, Hot and Chocolate. The parents felt helpless and, for now, were allowing their daughter to heal in her own time. Unfortunately, Lulu was also paying a price for the perceived betrayal by the Jaffa to the little girl. Once the pencil and eraser of togetherness, the two sisters were separated by Chenoa's pain and emptiness.
“Dad, do I have to go? I'd rather stay home, too.”
“Okay, Li'l Bit. Go back to your room.”
“Thank you, Dad.”
Jack wasn't sure if that was the best decision or not, but it was his choice at the moment.
**Are you still here?** Daniel inquired from the nursery where he was dressing JD.
**Lulu doesn't want to go because of Noa and I didn't think it was a good idea to force her, so I told her she could stay home.**
**I'll talk to her some more. Maybe she'll want to go tomorrow.**
**Let's hope so. Okay, we're going. I love you.**
**Love you, too, Babe.**
Jack left the house with the Munchkins and the Spitfires and headed to a nearby church that was hosting afternoon classes for young children. Mostly, it benefited working parents, but it was also designed to help parents who needed time to themselves, if just for a short period. Classes were ongoing and parents could sign up for as little as two weeks to as much as four months which equaled a regular school semester. For Jack and Daniel, these types of classes were a way to ensure their homeschooled children were getting the proper socialization as they grew up. Plus, they agreed it was healthy for the children to learn from other educators and hear differing points of view.
On this occasion, the Munchkins, the Spitfires, and the Curly Tops were all signed up to participate in classes for three weeks during the afternoons. The classes were focused on art and science, which the parents thought was perfect since one class was more creative and the other more factual, depending upon how one thought about those topics.
The classes also received the Jackson-O'Neill seal of approval because they came with the recommendation of an old friend, Sister Conchetta, who they'd known for many years, long before they'd considered marriage and having a family.
“Have fun,” Jack expressed with a smile to the five kids as they joined the other children for the first round of science education.
“They seem eager to learn, Mister Jackson-O'Neill,” Sister Mary Francis remarked.
“Yes. Our kids love learning.” This was the first time Jack met the sister who was in charge of the afternoon sessions. He felt it prudent to ensure she understood the rules for the brood. “Ah, when we registered for the class, we made it clear that no one is to pick up the kids except for Daniel or me, unless we notify you and a special password is used.”
“Yes, that is in our records.”
“Good. Have a good day, Sister.”
The days passed with the children enjoying their time in the classes. They loved learning about painting and how to express themselves through art. They also enjoyed the cool experiments that made science fun, like making a floating paperclip dive to the bottom of a cup and cutting a baby diaper to discover the secret of polymers.
Unfortunately, Chenoa showed no interest in going and Lulu, who really wanted to go, chose to stay home, needing to be close to her sister even if Chenoa didn't want to spend time with her. Lulu even created an invisible friend to help get her through the difficult time.
On Monday of the final week, Sister Mary Francis and Sister Anna met briefly to discuss a special event. Mother's Day was the upcoming Sunday so on the final day of this block of classes, they were planning on having a special ceremony where the students could quickly honor their mothers. The kids were going to be given a fun assignment to help celebrate the special day.
There was one very nasty problem, however. The church had plumbing problems that were scheduled to be repaired starting Friday afternoon. The workers needed to get started by 3 p.m. in order to be finished for Sunday services. There was no wiggle room due to the size of the job. Because of the number of children enrolled, the sisters had to determine exactly who would be attending in order to make sure they had enough time to honor all of the mothers.
“We'll need to ask the children,” Sister Mary Francis stated.
“But carefully, Sister.”
“Children, your attention,” Sister Mary Francis called out. “We have a special announcement. On Friday, our last day together for this class, we would like to have a ceremony to honor your mothers.”
The kids were excited, reacting by making positive comments, smiling, and/or clapping.
“We would love all of you to show your artwork and science projects to your mothers and say anything you like about how your mothers make your lives special. It's Mother's Day on Sunday, you know,” Sister Mary Francis reminded with a huge smile.
All of the children were talking amongst themselves, already thinking about what they'd say. Many hoped they could create new artwork to give to their mothers as presents.
“How many of you think your mommies can join us on Friday?” Sister Anna queried.
“Oh, dear,” Sister Mary Francis sighed, realizing the count was high. Almost all of the students believed their mothers would want to be there. ~This will be difficult.~
Sister Anna advised, “You are free to do any additional artwork you like to express yourselves to your mothers. You might want to consider doing a painting of your mother.”
“Can my daddy come?” Chloe Payne inquired. She signed up for the class after hearing about it from Lulu several weeks ago. “I want to paint a picture for him, too.”
Several of the students responded favorably to the request and were eager to have their dads attend on Friday.
Sister Mary Francis replied, “I'm sorry, Chloe. We don't have the space for all the fathers.” The neighborhood church was actually quite small. It made for a cozier atmosphere, but it also meant events could be challenging, depending upon the turnout. “Children, please ask your mothers to join us. We'll just have time for each of you to honor one of your parents and since it's Mother's Day, we ask you to celebrate her this time.”
“For those of you continuing on with our classes, we could perhaps consider doing a similar presentation near Father's Day,” Sister Anna added.
Since over half of the kids were continuing with classes, the reaction to a Father's Day event went over very well.
“We still have some time before we dismiss. Please go ahead and start your artwork for your mothers,” Sister Mary Francis instructed. Then she huddled with Sister Anna. “Perhaps we shouldn't have announced the special day, Sister. We may not have time for all of the kids to speak.”
“But we must.”
“We must, but we have a full class and limited space. We can only allow the mothers to attend and we must help the children to keep their talks briefer than I'd like.”
“I'll prepare a notice for the children to take home tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, the five Jackson-O'Neill children were having their own huddle to discuss who was going to paint the important women in their lives. It didn't take long for the decision to be made. Happily, they all began their ventures.
After dinner that evening, the five kids went to their parents as they relaxed in the recreation room.
“Dad, Daddy, we need to call Aunt Sam.”
“Any special reason?” Jack asked.
“Very special,” Aislinn answered with a smile.
Jack looked at Daniel, who shrugged his response, and then permitted, “Go for it.”
To the fleeing children, Daniel added, “And be careful dialing.”
The general chuckled, “Ricky didn't mean to call France.”
“It was bad timing.”
“He wanted his Loops.”
“Yes,” Daniel sighed. “I wonder where he got that from.”
After a chuckle, Jack kissed his Heart and they continued to snuggle while listening to music.
During the next art class, the Jackson-O'Neill kids were delighted with their process. Each painting resembled the person being honored. They were thrilled.
“Children, these are notices you must take home with you and show to your mothers right away. They contain special information about our program on Friday.” Sister Mary Francis began to hand out the forms. “May we see the progress of your artwork?”
Several of the students smiled and nodded in response to the query and showed both sisters their artworks as the notices were handed to them.
When the sisters reached the triplets and the twins, they straightened and physically pulled back. Their eyes widened, their pupils seemingly double their actual size as they glanced at each other. Their mouths were agape and their hearts beat an extra time or two from the surprise they felt.
“Children, your expressionism is very good, but did you misunderstand the task?” Sister Anna inquired after regaining her composure.
“Oh, no, Sister,” Ricky answered. “This is Aunt Sara. She's one of our mothers.”
“And this is Aunt Sam,” Jonny advised with a grin as he pointed to his painting that mostly had a big grin and lots of yellow hair on it thus far. “She's really good with tools and things.”
“This is our mother, Aunt Janet,” Jenny advised. “She has red hair like me.”
“So I see,” Sister Mary Francis returned. “Who is that?” she asked Little Danny.
“We know you said our mother, but Dad and Daddy are our mothers, too, so I painted Dad and Daddy.”
“Children,” Sister Anna sighed in some confusion. “Aislinn, who did you paint?”
“Our mommy,” Aislinn answered with some sadness. “She's beautiful and we love her, but she can't come on Friday because she died when we were little.”
“Oh dear,” Sister Mary Francis lamented. “Children, we don't have the time and ... oh dear.”
“Aunt Sam is coming. She asked the general for time off and he said yes,” Jonny told the sisters.
“And Aunt Janet was going to the spa, but now she's coming here,” Jenny added.
“Aunt Sara can't wait to come and see our stuff,” Ricky noted.
“Dad and Daddy are coming, too,” Little Danny advised. “We forgot to ask last night, but they always come. We'll probably have a party afterward, too.” He explained with a smile, “That's because when special things happen, we celebrate. We want to celebrate our aunts 'cause they're our mommies, too.”
“With lots of ice cream,” Jonny stated as he nearly drooled.
“You can come to our house, too,” Aislinn invited. “We can show you pictures of our mommy.”
“Oh dear,” Sister Mary Francis sighed again. “Sister, please continue to pass out the notices.”
Sister Mary Francis kneeled to be more equal with the children in size. What she had to say would be difficult, but while they could manage to allow more people at the event, there was no way around the timing issue.
“Children, as much as we'd love to meet all these wonderful women, only one can attend.”
The upset was immediate and noticeable. Mouths dropped, eyes were weepy, and voices trembled.
“But they're our mothers,” Jenny pointed out. “All of them.”
“Mommy didn't mean to die. A drunk person hit her car and killed her,” Aislinn told the class leader.
“Aunt Sara takes care of us lots,” Jonny noted.
“So does Aunt Janet,” Ricky sniffled. “They teach us lots, too.”
“Aunt Sara's a teacher and Aunt Janet is a doctor and Aunt Sam is a colonel in the Air Force,” Jonny stated.
“So is Aunt Janet,” Ricky pointed out.
“Dad was in the Air Force. He's retired now,” Little Danny said. “It's hard for fathers to be mothers, but our fathers are mothers, to us, sometimes.”
“That's why we have our aunts, to be mommies because our mommy's dead,” Aislinn advised emotionally.
For five minutes, the children argued their case. Sister Mary Francis' heart broke, but there was no time on Friday for the Jackson-O'Neill children to make a presentation for the three women and their two dads. Worse, Aislinn was planning on talking about her birth mother, even though Kayla Armentrout could only watch from Heaven.
“She's with us all the time. Dad and Daddy said so,” Aislinn sniffled.
“Oh dear.” All the religious woman could think to do was put the situation in the hands of the kids' parents and hope they could intercede appropriately. Sister Mary Francis replied, “Please show the notice to your parents when you get home.”
The downtrodden children nodded and then all sat down together. Their young hearts were crushed. They'd already invited their aunts and they were positive both of their parents would want to attend. What were they going to do now? They couldn't choose just one mom, not when they had four plus their fathers.
“Something is very wrong, Jack,” Daniel told his husband within minutes of the Munchkins and Spitfires arriving home.
“Did the sisters say anything when you picked them up?”
“Sister Anna checked the brood out, but she had a line of other parents waiting and I didn't see Sister Mary Francis,” Daniel answered. “Jack, they didn't say a word. I mean, seriously, not one of the five uttered a sound on the way home and they all look like they're going to cry. I couldn't get them to talk to me.”
“Okay. Wish me luck.”
“What are we going to do?” an agonizing Aislinn sniffled as she clinched Bobo, the large stuffed monkey that belonged to Kayla and was bequeathed to the children, in her arms. “Mommy's our mommy. We can't forget her.”
“I can't tell Aunt Sam she can't come,” Jonny stated sadly.
“Or Aunt Sara,” Ricky added.
“Or Aunt Janet,” Jenny lamented.
“Or Dad and Daddy,” Little Danny sighed. “We haven't asked them yet, but they'll come.”
A tap on the door before Jack entered silenced the kids, who were in the boys' room.
There was silence as the children looked down or away. They clearly had nothing to say at the moment.
“Let's try that again. Hey!” Jack greeted, expecting at least a polite response.
“Hi, Dad,” Aislinn spoke, leading the way for hushed greetings.
~They don't want to look at me. Why?~ Jack walked around the room, noticing that anytime he was close to seeing an actual face, that face would turn away. ~Yep. There's trouble in River City.~ He picked a spot and sat down on his haunches as he looked from child to child. He had to ask an important question before continuing the guessing game about what was bothering the brood. “Kids, I want an answer to this. Have any of you been hurt by someone in any way? Tell me now.”
“No, Dad,” Jonny reported. “We'd tell you that.”
Jack and Daniel had frequent chats with their brood about the dangers of the world. They always tried to shield their happy dozen, but clear boundaries were set about what was and wasn't acceptable in terms of being touched and feeling an invasion of their personal space.
“Okay. Thank you.” With one more look, Jack stood. “Daddy and I are waiting, whenever you're ready to talk.”
Once Jack left the room, Aislinn lamented, “Dad and Daddy are going to be mad at us.”
“They'll tell our moms,” Ricky bemoaned.
“What are we going to do?” Aislinn asked again.
The five sighed together and a few let out more sniffles and sobs. Not even Little Danny knew how to advise them, nor did Jonny have any idea how to lead the troops to a satisfying result. At the moment, all they could do was suffer together in silence.
“You're right,” Jack said as he bounded down the stairs to where Daniel waited in the living room.
“Did they say anything?”
“Only when forced.” Now standing directly in front of his lover, Jack informed him of what he learned. “Their hiding something, but they confirmed nothing untoward that happened.”
“They would have told us.”
“Yes, they would have.”
“Daniel, when we took those kids to class this afternoon, they were happy and babbling away.”
“About?” Daniel's eyes lit up. “Jack, what were they talking about?”
“Which means what?”
Talking more to himself, Daniel replied, “Special paintings.”
“Which means what?” Jack asked again.
“I have no idea,” the linguist sighed while beginning to pace. “There's something wrong here. We're missing something.”
“That I know,” Jack groused. “Okay, what do we know?” he asked, reverting back to his military training.
“The children were fine all morning and when we dropped them off for class. Now they're not.”
“Something happened at that class, Daniel.”
“Do we have any way of reaching the sisters?”
Checking his watch, Jack shook his head and answered, “I don't think so.”
Daniel paced while Jack watched. Both were a combination of frustrated, concerned, and confused. Three minutes passed as they struggled to find an answer. Then Daniel stopped pacing. He looked over at his husband and then he made a three-quarter turn and stared at the mantel.
“What?” Jack asked. He walked forward a few steps and repeated, “What?”
“Daniel, they aren't even home yet.”
“No, but ... Jack, remember a few years back, right after we adopted them.”
“So, remember when Noa had a Parent's Day at her pre-school and ...”
“We both couldn't go,” Jack completed. “That was a crisis.”
“Yes, it was, and Noa was scared to tell us. It was a horrible thing, Jack, for them to make her choose.”
“I agree. How does that relate to the Munchkins and the Spitfires? Daniel, this isn't a school in that sense.”
“No, but last night they asked if they could call Sam,” Daniel pointed out.
“And they said it was important.”
“And they were on the phone for a long time and they were very happy afterward.”
“We never asked them why they wanted to talk to Carter.”
“Jack, we don't invade their privacy like that. When they want to call Sam, we let them. She's ...”
“Their mother?” Daniel put forth. “Jack, what if something happened at the class involving their mother. Maybe they're missing Kayla or ...”
“Or something.” Daniel's hands motioned outward as he added, “I'm just saying it's possible something was said or done in that class that has our children upset in a way that is far from their norm, and don't start with me about normal. We both know what I mean.”
“I wasn't going to start anything,” Jack responded calmly.
“Yeah, I'm sorry, Babe. I'm just ...”
“Upset,” Jack acknowledged, knowing what his lover was thinking. “We're both trying to figure this out.”
“Jack, we have to talk to them and get them to speak with us.”
Once again, Jack checked his watch and observed, “We have about fifteen minutes before the rest of the brood gets back.”
Full of intent, the couple walked upstairs. They hoped they could get right to the point since the other children would be arriving home in a wave of three drop offs. They considered waiting, but opted to move forward with their decision to speak with the five kids. They felt the situation was too critical to ignore for even one more minute.
Jack and Daniel entered the boys' room and observed nothing changed over the course of the last half hour. They sat down next to each other on Little Danny's bed since Aislinn and Bobo were on Ricky's bed, while Jonny was sitting Indian-style on his bed and the twins were as close as they could be on the carpet in front of Jonny's bed. Bijou and Katie were with them now as well, one on each side of the Spitfires.
“Kids, listen up,” Jack began. “I don't know what's wrong, but something is definitely wrong. Anyone care to fess up?”
“We haven't done anything bad,” Aislinn whispered.
“Sweetie, we know that,” Daniel assured. “If you had, we absolutely know you would told us first thing. I want to ask you something that Dad asked you earlier. Did anyone say or do anything to one or more of you that they shouldn't have?”
“No, Daddy,” came multiple replies.
“Please tell us what has upset you. Let us help.”
Little Danny looked up, the first time any of the five made eye contact with Jack and/or Daniel since being picked up at the church. The youthful genius glanced around at his siblings.
“We should tell them,” the Munchkin asserted. “Dad and Daddy can fix anything.”
Jonny nodded his agreement and said, “They'll fix it.”
“Okay,” Aislinn stated. “Jenny?”
“I agree.” The redhead nudged her twin. “Little Danny's right, Ricky. Dad and Daddy fix things. We should have thought of that before.”
Ricky nodded, though he didn't respond verbally.
“Little Danny, you tell them,” Jenny requested.
“Maybe Ash should tell,” the middle Munchkin spoke.
Jack and Daniel were eager to know the story, but both let their children work through their needs. They remained patient and silent.
Finally, Jonny let loose with, “Oh, for crying out loud.” He asked his siblings, “Who has the note? Just give them the note.”
“Oh,” Jenny returned. “Excuse me, Katie. I'll be right back.”
The beagle stood, but instead of waiting, trotted after the youngster and then returned to her position when Jenny sat back down in the boys' room after handing the note she retrieved from her bedroom to her dad.
Jack took the note and held it out so both he and Daniel could read it.
**Crap times ... three? four? I'm not sure,** Daniel replied.
“Kids, I think we understand. I remember when you were still babies and we had a similar situation with the Mouseketeers. They were each put in a situation where they had to choose between Daddy and me.”
“No!” came five horrified reactions.
“When they confided in us, we were able to find a happy resolution,” Daniel expounded. “I'm sure if you ask them, they'll fill you in. Uh, Noa was very young, though, and she may not remember what happened now.”
“Who wants to give us more details?” the general inquired.
“I will,” Little Danny responded. He told his parents how the special project began and how excited each of them were. With great excitement, they didn't just phone Sam last night, but Janet and Sara as well. They'd planned to ask Jack and Daniel afterward, but were distracted by their nightly ice cream ritual. Then he relayed how unhappy they were now because they were going to have to choose only one woman to represent all their mothers. “How can we do that? It's not fair,” the boy sniffled.
“It's not fair,” Aislinn echoed. “Mommy is Mommy, but she has helper mommies now, and we love them, all of them. They teach us and love us.”
“And you're our mommies, too,” Little Danny reminded.
With the full story out in the open, Jack and Daniel beckoned for all five of the kids to join them. They gave them kisses and supportive smiles while holding them close in a seven-way embrace.
“Kids, let us see what we can do.”
“Thank you for trusting us,” Daniel added. “I know this is upsetting and you're sad, but what do we always say?”
“That love is everything and we have lots of love,” Aislinn responded softly.
“And the family motto?” Jack questioned.
It was scattered, but the five answered, “Together, we can do again. We're unbeatable.”
“That's right,” Jack affirmed. “Dry your eyes. Your brothers and sisters will be home in a couple of minutes. Talk with them about this, if you want, but let's think positively.”
“You'll fix it,” Little Danny proclaimed, almost willing himself to stop being sad. In fact, he stood straighter and repeated more soundly, “Dad and Daddy are going to fix it.”
“Yeah!” Jonny agreed. “No worries.”
Ricky and Jenny both began to smile as they took the stances of Jonny and Little Danny. The eldest of the kids, though, sighed as Aislinn returned to Bobo and held her close. He walked over and put his arm around her shoulder.
“Ash, Dad and Daddy will fix it. They always fix things. Mommy will help them.”
Aislinn looked into Jonny's eyes and asked, “You think so?”
“Mommy never let us down. She'll help.”
“Okay. I'll put Bobo back in her rocking chair now.” Aislinn smiled at her parents and declared, “You'll fix it. Mommy will help.”
The rest of the Munchkins and the Spitfires followed Aislinn to the nursery where the rocking chair Bobo usually sat in was present.
Remaining behind, Jack and Daniel turned to face each other.
“Yeah, I know,” Jack sighed. ~Okay, Kayla, lend us a hand. We can use all the help we can get to figure this out.~
Late that night, Daniel was sitting up in bed, reading, when Jack walked out of the bathroom, having taken a shower.
“Angel, this burgundy robe is so comfy.”
“That's nice, Jack.”
“And Godzilla is here. He wants to sleep with you.”
“Okay.” Daniel turned the page and then blinked. His head moved upward. “What did you say?”
“Nothing, Danny. I could tell you're engrossed in your reading. What's so fascinating?”
“Kayla's novel,” Daniel responded, referring to “Journey of the Heart” which essentially told the story of Jack and Daniel in the early days of their forever.
“We have that memorized, don't we?”
“Ash said Kayla would help. I believe her.”
Jack nodded and continued his nighttime routine.
In the wee hours of the morning, Daniel was still reading Kayla's novel. Actually, the beloved woman hadn't totally finalized her book before being killed, but upon her death, the lovers discovered the manuscript at her apartment. They realized it needed to be proofread and have some minor editing done. Jack and Daniel made it their mission to complete the novel and get it published. They'd done so and the novel was well received and quite successful.
“Most people strived for status of some sort. They wanted a house to show off, cars to be admired, and trendy clothes to draw the attention of others. It was different for these two strong and healthy males, who felt so lucky to have found love in an unexpected place, each other, even though the other was their same sex. They didn't need to be fashion forward, nor did they desire to own flashy automobiles. They didn't even require four walls, a roof, and a ceiling. All they needed was a home, defined by them as a piece of ground and each other. As long as they had that, they had everything.”
“A piece of ground,” Daniel muttered, more as a question than a statement.
In a flash, Daniel flew out of bed in his pajamas and hurried downstairs. He turned on the lights and drew open the patio blinds. His smile grew as he stared out into the darkness of the night. Quickly, he switched on the backyard flood lights.
“A piece of ground,” Daniel repeated, this more as a statement and not the least bit a question.
“Danny, is something wrong?” Jack called out as he reached the bottom of the stairs.
“No. I, uh, I think Kayla just gave us the solution to our problem.”
“She did,” Daniel advised as he grinned at his lover before returning his focus to the outdoors.
“Good morning, Sister,” Jack called out over the phone.
“How are you today?”
“Couldn't be better.”
“Then why are you calling me?”
Jack could feel the pointed stare and the sly smile on the woman's face. It made him laugh just to imagine it.
“Sister, we need to talk, and we need to do it ASAP. How about a bear claw and coffee?”
“You do have a way about you, Jack,” the sister chuckled. Bear claws were her favorite pastry and Jack Jackson-O'Neill knew it. “I can meet you in an hour.”
“I'm no Scrooge. I'll pick you up in forty.”
Hanging up the phone, Jack smiled. His Daniel found the answer to the problem, and Kayla provided it. Now it was his job to put it into action.
Just over an hour later, Daniel heard Jack's truck pull into the driveway. Hurriedly, he called out to the triplets and the twins.
“Uh, listen. Normally, I wouldn't say this, but, Little Danny, if it becomes necessary, pout, and pout big time.” Daniel looked at the other kids and instructed, “And all of you pout, too, or maybe look cute and adorable.”
“Daddy!” Jonny whined.
“Jonny, we're on a mission. The goal of that mission is to rethink how the Mother's Day event is handled. To accomplish that mission, you may need to pout or look very, very cute. Understood?”
“Good.” Daniel sighed, smiled, and headed for the entryway. ~Sometimes, you just have to think military to communicate with Jonny.~ He opened the door and grinned. “Sister Conchetta, hello.”
Daniel hung his head. The sister was barely inside the house, but he was nervous. He needed her to understand the situation and approve the solution. Everything hung on the presentation of the children.
**Danny, did you tell the kids to ...**
**Big time, and be cute. Jonny rebelled until I put it under the guise of a mission.**
**With Mrs. Valissi.**
“Sister, do we have something special for you to see, after the bear claw, of course,” Jack stated in a cajoling manor.
“You're after something, Jack.”
“Bear claw first, education second.”
“Education?” the sister chuckled. “This should be good.”
“Good as your heart,” Jack declared with a charming grin.
Fifteen minutes later, the Jackson-O'Neills and Sister Conchetta moved from the hospitality room to the recreation room after finishing their pastries.
“Now, this has been wonderful, but I came here under the notion that you needed my help.”
“And we do,” Jack responded. “Kids, you're up.”
The five children were supported by their siblings, except for JD. There was a reason for that. To JD, Kayla was his mother, something verified by his birth certificate. However, that wasn't the actual case and the true nature of JD's birth was not yet known to him. He had no idea he was born, the only true and complete biological child of his male parents, thanks to an alien contraption. To ensure he remained protected from this information and not to risk someone saying something that might give the boy pause, JD was taken to Mrs. Valissi's for the morning. However, the rest of the siblings stood casually behind the Munchkins and the Spitfires as they readied themselves. Aislinn was the first to speak.
“We're a big family. Some of us were adopted and some of us share the same mother.”
On cue, Brianna walked next to Aislinn and held up a large picture of Kayla Armentrout.
“This is Mommy. Her name is Kayla. We all think of her as our mother, but she actually gave birth to just the five of us. She died when a drunk driver hit her car. He took her away from us, but Mommy left lots of videotapes so we can see her and learn from her anytime we want. I watched a tape last week and she taught me it's okay to be unsure about things as I grow up. She made me feel safe and not so scared. She's our mommy and we love her. We honor her every single day, even when it's not Mother's Day.”
Sister Conchetta was clueless why Aislinn was speaking to her so emotionally about her mother, but she was curious.
Little Danny took over next, saying, “A lot of families have mothers and fathers. That's the tradition, but Dad and Daddy fell in love, got married, and wanted a family. They were going to adopt, and they did, but they also decided to use a surrogate. That's what Mommy was called sometimes: a surrogate.”
Lulu and Chenoa walked over to Jack and Daniel and gave them a hug on behalf of the entire brood. Both spoke their love before returning to their spot behind the middle Munchkin.
Daniel's namesake took a huge breath before continuing, “A lot of families only have one parent. Maybe it's a mommy, or a daddy, or even someone else. When it's just one person, it doesn't matter what their sex is. They have to be both a mommy and a daddy. Dad and Daddy are our fathers, but they do everything a mother would do, too, so we want to say thank you to them and honor them on Mother's Day, too.”
~Good point,~ the sister opined. ~More than half of our students have only one parent and they work very hard to make a home for the boys and girls. Where is this leading?~
It was Ricky's turn to speak and he brightly began, “This is Aunt Sara and she's married to Uncle Mark. Before that, she was married to Dad and they had a son, Charlie. We love Charlie. He's our brother in Heaven.”
~Such a sad thing that was,~ Sister Conchetta thought as she gave a slight bob of her head.
“Aunt Sara takes care of us a lot. We even have rooms at her house and she lets the zoo come over, too.”
“Woof!” Bijou verified as she sat on Jack's left.
“Aunt Sara is a teacher and she is always around when we need her.”
“So is Aunt Janet,” Jenny interjected as planned. “She's a doctor. We get to have lots of girls days with her.”
“Boys don't like that girlie stuff,” Ricky explained.
“But she plays with the boys and we get to watch movies and listen to music. She's been a lot of places and tells great stories,” Jenny elaborated. “When we get sick, she makes sure we feel better.”
At last, it was Jonny's turn to finish up the presentation, which he did by motioning David to reveal his picture.
“This is Aunt Sam. She worked with Dad and Daddy in the military and knows a ton of stuff. She's super smart and teaches us fun things. She's married to Uncle Pete. He's a detective.” Jonny was grinning as he spoke. “She teaches us cool stuff and she takes care of us a lot. She lives over there,” he pointed toward the corner of the backyard, “and all we have to do is call for her, and she comes. She makes us feel better when we're sad or need help.”
“Just like Aunt Janet,” Jenny spoke.
“And like Aunt Sara,” Ricky added.
“And Dad and Daddy,” Little Danny asserted.
“And Mommy, who is in our hearts all the time,” Aislinn reminded. “Sister Conchetta, how can we have a Mother's Day for class and not talk about our mommy?”
“Or our fathers who are mommies, too?” Little Danny queried.
“Or Aunt Sara, who loves us like we were her kids, and she has kids,” Jonny asked.
“Sister, Aunt Janet was going to the spa, but when we asked her to come to the church on Friday, she said she'd cancel the spa, even though she wouldn't get all of her deposit back,” Jenny advised with great focus.
“And Aunt Sam was suppose to work and she had to ask for time off, and she got it. How can I tell her now that we can only choose one mommy?” Jonny questioned.
The kids, who were all used to participating in shows for families and friends, spoke in total unison as they concluded, “How are we supposed to honor one mommy when we have four mommies and two fathers who act like mommies?”
Little Danny finished the presentation by speaking, “Mommy, Aunt Sara, Aunt Sam, and Aunt Janet are our for moms and we love them. We can't choose one over the other, so if you say no to Dad, Daddy, and Mommy's idea, we say thank you for teaching us, but we can't go to class anymore. Thank you for listening.”
~Oh my,~ the seasoned sister expressed in a internal gasp.
“Sister,” Jack began. “You understand the problem now?”
“Yes. I was only told this week about the special event that Sister Mary Francis and Sister Anna created. It was a wonderful idea, but I'm afraid they didn't think it out fully before speaking with the children. They unintentionally were carried away.”
“We understand that,” Daniel replied. “Sister, you can't ask children to choose among those they consider to be mothers or fathers or sisters. We've been through this before, with three of our other children. Asking them, any of them, to choose one parent, a parent of any type, over another, is not a good idea.”
“I agree, Daniel. However, you are aware of the circumstances.”
“And that, Sister, is why we have an 'or',” Jack advised with a smile.
“An oar? Do we need a rowboat?”
Jack chuckled, “Not that kind of 'or', but an 'or' or.”
“He means an alternative,” Daniel translated.
“And that would be?”
“Our backyard,” Daniel announced. He stood and beckoned, “Please.”
Standing, the sister reminded, “I have been here a few times.”
“But you haven't seen the backyard since we transformed this place into a fairytale,” Jack mused.
Sister Conchetta nodded. Most of the time when seeing the couple, it was at some event or at her home church. She acknowledged she hadn't been in the Jackson-O'Neill backyard for a few years.
“Take a look,” Jack invited.
“It's a very large, accommodating place, Sister Conchetta,” Daniel observed. “We've had some very large gatherings here.”
“This is the solution, Sister,” Jack announced. “We have class here on Friday.”
“And *every* child can honor their parent, or parents. My guess is that our children aren't the only ones making a choice they don't want to make.”
“We'll arrange for transportation ourselves.”
“You need to get the permission of the parents, but everything else, we can provide.”
“Please, Sister,” Aislinn pleaded with her fellow triplets by her side.
“Please let us celebrate all our mommies,” Little Danny added.
With a nod, Sister Conchetta smiled and responded, “I have to get permission from ...”
“Sister, you do what you need and let us know what we need to do, and we'll make it happen,” Jack promised.
“Drive me back to the church, Jack.” The sister looked over at the children and smiled. “You are privileged to love so many, so much. It is a privilege every child and every adult should have. Keep it close to your soul, always. Your mommies should be very proud and must all be very special to have taught you so well.”
“I'll be back,” Jack told Daniel as he led the sister outside and to his truck.
Meanwhile, Aislinn asked, “Mommy helped, didn't she, Daddy?”
“It was her idea,” Daniel answered as he hugged his original miracle. “She loves you, Ash. She loves all of you very much.”
Friday afternoon was a huge success. As it turned out, there were several other children who appreciated being able to celebrate their male mother or other unique groupings. One child had two step-mothers, both of whom she was close to and wanted to talk about. She barely knew her birth mother, who wasn't part of her life, not the way the two other women were. Another's parents both died and she was being raised by her oldest sister. She also had a cousin who helped to support the unique family. The various situations were eye opening for everyone.
The Jackson-O'Neill kids made their presentations with huge grins, especially when at the end of their comments, they were able to give their mothers the paintings they'd made in class. All three women shed a few tears at hearing how important they were to the brood. They loved the portraits, too, some of which were not necessarily traditional.
Using the expressionism learned through the art classes, the paintings showed more than just ordinary faces. Jonny's painting of Sam featured her blonde hair and a very big grin that spread from paper's edge to paper's edge. He included a screwdriver and a laptop in his artwork.
Jenny's drawing of Janet naturally centered on red hair. She chose to show three faces, one facing to the right, one to the left, and one facing forward. Each profile had a different hairstyle as well as a different medical instrument. The center image had a stethoscope hanging around Janet's neck, the one to the left an ophthalmoscope aimed at an imaginary eye, and the picture on the right a thermometer stuck in the physician's mouth. At the bottom of the page were boxes representing videotapes and DVDs which Janet was known for watching frequently with the children.
Ricky's facial picture of Sara was more straightforward, but he drew a giant heart below her face and wrote the word 'Love' inside the heart.
Aislinn's image of Kayla featured her long brown hair which flowed down the page. She made her mother's eyes sparkling by adding tiny areas of white in her pupils. She painted Kayla sitting on clouds, her head looking slightly downward where the Munchkin placed an actual photo of the entire brood. She drew a rainbow behind her mother to indicate hope and positivity.
Little Danny's painting of his parents was also straightforward except that he gave them octopus-like arms that surrounded small images of the children and all of their animals. It was a giant hug of constant devotion and support.
“We're framing this, Jack.”
“You'd better believe it, Danny.”
That decision was echoed by all three of the women. After Sara mentioned a framer she used over the years, they decided to have a mom's day of their own the next day. They'd take the photos to the frame shop and have lunch together, something they agreed they should do more often, considering their large roles they played in the lives of the Jackson-O'Neill children.
Eventually, the backyard cleared until it was just the family, immediate and extended.
“I don't know what to say,” Sara spoke softly to the children.
“We have something for you,” Jennifer announced, looking at Sara, Janet, and Sam.
Brianna handed a package to Sara, David gave one to Janet, and Chenoa presented a wrapped box to Sam.
Jennifer stated, “Today was largely about the Munchkins and the Spitfires, but we all wanted to let you know how much we love you. People must think we're weird, but we don't. We all have multiple mothers who we love, whether they gave actual birth to us or not. We love you and thank you so much for being part of our lives and helping Dad and Daddy to raise us.”
“Open them!” Aislinn urged with a smile.
“Here we go,” Sam responded as she looked at the other two ladies.
“It's beautiful,” Janet observed as she picked up the gold bracelet.
“We picked out charms to represent each one of us,” Aislinn stated.
“And you can add your kids to it, too,” Lulu pointed out. “We didn't want to pick their charms, but Daddy said we'll pay for them because they should be part of the bracelets, too.”
“It's all in the family,” Jack interjected.
“I love it very much,” Sara sighed emotionally as she began to hug the brood.
“You've changed my life,” Sam told the children while unable to stop some tears from falling. “Boy, have you changed my life.”
“You did it, Aunt Sam,” Little Danny corrected. “We just helped a little.”
“A lot; you helped a lot.”
The love fest continued for a while before the three surrogate aunts slash surrogate mothers left the home.
“We're very proud of you,” Daniel expressed to the children.
“We didn't do anything special, Daddy,” Jonny negated. “We just shared our love.”
“You sure did,” the archaeologist agreed.
“Time to clean this up,” Jennifer called out about the backyard.
“Dad and Daddy fixed it,” Little Danny stated with a smile.
“They can fix anything,” Jonny agreed.
“Best parents ever,” Aislinn added.
Jenny began, “Of course, they can. We can fix problems, too, because ...”
“... together we're unbeatable!” the entire brood exclaimed with joy.
The laughter grew and then subsided as the cleanup activity went into full gear.
Later that night, Jack turned out the light in his study, made sure the house was secure, and headed upstairs to the master bedroom where he noticed Daniel sitting on the side of the bed, one leg crooked onto the soft comforter atop the sheets. His focus was on Kayla's book.
“Hey, Love,” Jack greeted as he sat down on the same side of the bed as he faced the archaeologist. “Still reading?”
“Just a few of my favorite spots.” Daniel's fingers traced one of the pages as he finished a paragraph. He closed the tome and twisted around to place it on his nightstand. “I miss her, Jack. She should have been here to see how her children grew. They are amazing, and she's part of that.”
“She is here, Danny. She's with our kids every minute of every day. They feel her.”
“I know, but it's not the same.”
“No, it's not.”
Daniel reached over and took his husband's hand. There was a silent time dedicated to Charlie.
“We are lucky, though,” Daniel stated.
“That we are. We survived another crisis.”
“One that shouldn't have happened. I wish the children would have shown us that note from Sister Mary Francis sooner.”
With a nod, Jack returned, “We'll let it settle and talk to them about anything in the future that might creep up. We could have headed it off at the pass if they'd told us what was going on from the beginning.”
“It's just another reminder that regardless of how intelligent they are, they're still children.”
“We missed our date night,” Jack sighed.
“I noticed that.”
“But it's still Friday.”
“It is,” Daniel acknowledged.
“Kids are in bed.”
“We're ... on a bed.”
With their family back on track, Jack and Daniel merged into one as their nation of two continued to thrive. Life had its stumbles, but for the lovers, challenges were faced head on and with full force. Every single day was an adventure of one type or another and they were willing to face it because, as has been noted, as long as the Jackson-O'Neills were together, they could do anything. In Colorado Springs, and just about anywhere else, they were unbeatable.
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