While Andalie chased the men of Willow Creek, life went on back at the Hasslich homestead.
Most significantly, Milo had aged into a child, and though he rarely saw his mother, he looked more and more like her every day.
Andalie had always been tenacious – she pursued her goals with alarming intensity, the outside world filtered away by her single-minded tunnel vision. As a young adult, she had been entirely fixated on the legacy and securing the heirship, but as a romantic, her short attention span was quickly redirected toward Nash. Or Dean – whoever the man of the moment happened to be. And in the rare times that Andalie wasn’t consumed by her romantic obsessions, she devoted her time to her thriving garden, lovingly tending her plants and talking to them as cherished friends.
Unfortunately, Andalie’s children existed mostly in her peripheral vision, a product of a previous fixation. She had completed her mission as heir, producing at least one daughter to further the legacy, and she now, even as her third pregnancy drew out, she paid more attention to the plants than she did to her own children.
Andalie was a much less reliable and involved mother than her own mother had been, which forced her sisters to step up as caretakers to the children. Zara was less than thrilled with the responsibility that had been thrust upon her, but she contributed what she could as an aunt, however begrudgingly.
Still, Zara wasn’t much help, and Emmeline quickly became the primary caretaker and homemaker. Between her shifts as a rocket technician, Emmeline cleaned the house, repaired broken appliances, cooked for the children, and in her spare moments, improved her painting technique. No matter how exhausted she was, Emmeline was determined that she would keep her promise to her mother, and paint the fourth generation portraits when the time came.
Overworked and under appreciated, Emmeline decided it was time for a day off. Though she rarely had time to see him, Emmeline was still happily dating her high school boyfriend, Enrique.
Emmeline: I always wanted to contribute to the legacy, but this really isn’t the way I imagined it, Enrique! I feel like Cinderella while my irresponsible sister gets to have all the fun! I thought the bright side of being a spare was that I could pursue my dream of becoming an astronaut, but my career is suffering, and I have no time for myself… I’ll never get to space, at this rate!
Enrique: You’ve done enough, Emmie. You’re not the heir, you do have the freedom to live life the way you want! You just have to walk away from this and force Andalie to step up to the plate.
Emmeline: I can’t leave Sylvie and Milo, you know that! They’re defenseless kids with a mother who forgets they even exist!
Enrique: But I want to marry you, Emmeline. We could get a place of our own, and you’d finally have time to focus on your work. You’d be a top level astronaut in no time!
Emmeline sighed. She had been devastated when Andalie was named heir, her only consolation the freedom to pursue her own dream – but now she didn’t even have that. Maybe Enrique was right.
But the kids would be home from school soon, and Emmeline still had so much to do on her one day off from work. She had such little time left with Enrique, and she didn’t want to spend it worrying about the future.
She invited Emmeline to “hang out” with her at home for a few hours.
Afterwards, cuddling together in bed, Emmeline turned to Enrique with resolve in her eyes.
Emmeline: I want to marry you, too, Enrique. Please just be patient. Once my nieces and nephews are teenagers, they’ll be able to take care of themselves and we’ll be free to start a life together. I promise.
Two days later…
Emmeline felt dizzy, a sneaking suspicion washing over her. How could this be? She and Enrique had always been so careful! She wasn’t ready for this, she had a career to dominate!
But as she watched the little pink plus sign appear, Emmeline realized that she was ready for this. She was already a mother to Milo and Sylvie, and though it wasn’t easy, she wouldn’t trade them for the world. Or, even, for the universe.
Of course, Enrique was the first person she told.
She had been somewhat nervous to tell him, but Enrique was overjoyed – he had always wanted a family and took the pregnancy as a sign that he and Emmeline were meant to be a family.
Enrique: I already know this doesn’t mean you’ll marry me right now. But we are going to be a family, Emmeline, and that means you have my unconditional support. But what about your job? It’s your dream to be an astronaut!
Emmeline: I guess this baby is my new dream. Andalie is living proof that you can’t have it all, but if I have to choose, I will always choose my family.
The next day, when Emmeline returned from her shift, there was a note from Enrique taped to the front door.
Go to the backyard.
You are my everything – with you, I have it all.
You can have it all, too.