Some Good Reasons 4
"It got dark early tonight."
Kelly jumped a little at the sound of the voice behind her. She'd been standing in the kitchen trying to get herself a drink, but the excitement of the day was catching up with her and she was starting to zone out. "Yeah."
"Your kids are adorable," Colleen’s friend, Ree, said to her moving past her to put a cup into the sink. "They're half asleep at this point, but they're cute as buttons. I can't wait for Colleen and Lance to pop out a few."
"Would you think I'm crazy if I said I'd like to ship the kids off to day care and work again?” Kelly put the bottle of cola back in the refrigerator and turned towards her.
The NSYNC Christmas party was in full swing outside even though the sun was threatening to set soon, but Kelly had slipped inside for a moment of peace and quiet. Her children were being looked after and her husband was playing with his friends so she’d found herself with nothing to do for the moment so she’d escaped to get another drink and get away from the hundred or so people in the yard.
“That was sudden,” Ree leaned against the counter.
“You’re an outsider.” Kelly walked across the kitchen and saw that there weren’t any more crackers on the tray that was sitting there so she looked around for a moment and found another box of wheat thins. “I can ask you stuff like this and not have it make me look bad.”
“That didn’t come out like I wanted it to,” Kelly said slightly embarrassed by her forwardness, “I meant that you’re outside the little NSYNC bandwagon or whatever. You’re not related to one of the guys and that gives you a different perspective on things.”
Ree shook her head. “Oh.”
“So?” Kelly asked.
Her laugh filled the air. "You're asking the wrong person, Kelly. My career is immensely important to me." She sipped her drink then narrowed her eyebrows for a moment as she thought. "My theory has always been that I can have it all. I think we can all have it all. You have no idea how much Spencer and I want kids, but I want kids and my career. I suppose being a lawyer is a huge part of my identity, you know it's something that's MINE, something that's part of who I am." She picked out a few crackers from a tray on the counter and chewed one before she spoke again. "I think it's important, probably the most important thing in life to be true to yourself. What kind of mother and wife are you going to be if you're not PERSONALLY happy?"
Kelly frowned. She wasn’t sure who she was. She knew that she was a part of a whole big group of things, but as an individual it was hard to say five things about herself that would distinguish her from the others that didn’t have to do with the kids or her husband. "I'm happy."
Ree raised an eyebrow. "So why are you asking me about this if you're so happy?"
"I'm happy being a mom and wife and I love the fact that I have three kids that have a roof over their head--” She sighed. "I'm happy, but not satisfied...does that make sense? I don't know what I'd do without them in my life, but at the same time there is this little selfish part of me that wishes that they'd disappear for five minutes and let me figure out if that's really all I want from life for the rest of my life."
"Of course it makes sense, but being satisfied is part of being REALLY happy. Before the kids...before Joey, what did you want to do? What did you dream about when you were a little girl?"
“That was so long ago I'm not sure that I remember.” Kelly’s brain hurt from even thinking about it. It was hard to see her away from Joey since he’d been such a big part of her life for so long. “When Joey came into my life and his career took off I kind of let his life control mine. I mean I was there along for the ride, but at the same time I knew that my little thoughts of a job couldn't compete with a 40 billion dollar a year career.”
Her fingers twisted into themselves nervously. “Back then I wanted a career and Joey, but I think it was more like 25 percent career and 75 percent Joey. Now it's starting to even out again and I don't know what to do with that.”
Ree didn't say much, just watched her with a caring face, if anyone could put on a caring face.
“Its intimidating to try to pull away from the NSYNC lifestyle ya know? I've seen too many girls come and go in their lives and the one thing that seemed to pull girls away the most was the fact that they HAD lives that took them away. I never had that.” Kelly shrugged. “Why do I feel like I've just described an episode of SURVIVOR?”
"Yeah, I get all of that, but you can't tell me you don't remember what you used to dream about. What did Kelly at age 13 want to do?" Ree shifted her weight and looked down at her toes for a moment, “Maybe the girls that have GONE had lives or whatever...who knows, but the girls that are here in this house all seem to have both...at least the way I look at it. I mean, I know for a fact Lee isn't giving up a dammed thing for fancy pants. Dani works her ass off from what I've seen...Meredith is already looking at getting back into the business and the baby isn't even here yet...and Farzana, she has two careers going on and off. It's about WANTING both and finding the balance."
“That's the trouble. I'm not sure what I want now. Back then I was into music and rock star stuff..." Her eyes squinted, "I mean I played with Barbie’s and did hair and make up on my friends, but I'm not sure if I can go back to something like that.”
"You're asking me about it...you've thought about it." Ree turned into a lawyer then and became completely serious. "Kelly WHAT do you dream about NOW?"
Her expression fell. “I’m not sure.”
"Come on," Ree said, "You've thought about it--"
"I loved my accounting classes in community college, when I was there. I think I'm the only woman in the world that can account for every penny that I've spent in the last five years."
"I know I sure as hell couldn't." Ree laughed. "So get a bachelors degree in accounting if you like accounting. And then let me know when you're done so you can straighten my crap out."
Kelly blushed. "Can you imagine me the accountant hanging around with Joey? and I mean how dumb would it look for me to be his wife and be counting money all the time like I'm his little ball and chain trying to figure out where it all goes."
Ree shrugged. "Well get a bachelors in something else."
"A bachelors? With three kids?"
"Why not? How many people would have pictured Lance blissfully happy with a flight attendant? It's not about how it LOOKS. It's about how you FEEL! Girl, you need some self confidence. I'm POSITIVE you wouldn't be the first woman with three kids to get her bachelors degree."
“So how do I do this?" she asked. "I mean do I just go in there and drop the bomb of--Hey I want another life? Because that's really what it’s gonna be like."
"Do you WANT another life, or just a change in this one? Those are two different things you know. If you want another life, you want to do this WITHOUT Joe, without the kids. If you want a change, you want both."
“I do want both, but I know Joe. He's going to hear what I have to say and immediately think that I've lost my mind and that I want to leave him or something. I'm not usually one to ask him for things. The only thing that I've ever bugged him about in the last few years was for him to be home when Brianna was born, for him to be there for our wedding and for him to be there when Trey was born. I don't know how he's going to react if I just tell him all this out of the blue."
“I almost want to go behind his back, but I'm not sure that it would be easier on either of us if I did that."
"KELLY! Why do you have to ASK HIM anything? This is YOUR LIFE we're talking about. And give him a chance, who knows, maybe he'll be Mr. Supportive Guy. I think that you ought to do what is going to make you happier, but I'm not sure going behind his back would be the best move."
"You doing ok over there?" Joey asked.
"Uh huh," Justin said rocking Trey a little.
"You look a little nervous," Joey said, "Don't worry. I trust you not to drop him on his head."
"I'm not scared of dropping him." Justin patted Trey's back. "That's the easy part. It's the other stuff that has me scared shitless."
"The parenting stuff," Justin said, "I was standing in the middle of Pottery Barn for Kids with Mere the other day and had a freaking panic attack because I saw a kid being disciplined by his father in the store while they were waiting for the mom to buy something."
Joey was shocked to hear him sound so scared. "Panic attack?"
"The kid started crying because he was in trouble and I freaked out." Justin reached for the teething ring that Joey was holding and put it up to Trey's mouth in a natural, totally comfortable gesture. "I mean I'm gonna have a kid and I'm gonna have to yell at them a time or two and they're gonna cry. It's bad enough when I make Mere cry, what the hell am I gonna do when I make my kid cry?"
"You'll be fine," Joey said, "You get used to it."
"Are you sure?" Justin asked.
"Yeah," Joey said, "All of that stuff soon just becomes routine. I still feel sick to my stomach when I have to discipline them, but at the same time I've come to realize that it's not going to kill them when I tell them they can't do something and eventually they lose interest in whatever they were doing that wasn't right. You'll be fine."
Justin sighed, "If you say so."
Joey knew that he should change the subject. Justin was definitely insecure about his parenting skills and would probably go on forever about it if he didn't steer him in another direction. "So are you gonna videotape the birth?"
"Are you kidding me?" Justin said, "I watched that NOVA documentary--what's it called--This is where baby's freaking come from and oh hey, guess what, there are scenes in here like those blood and guts scenes from Gangs of New York?"
"The Miracle of Life?" Joey asked with a smirk knowing full well that the video he was talking about had scared the crap out of him too..
"You mean miracle that I didn't pass out or puke on my woman?" Justin asked, "Of course me being grossed out about the video sent Mere into hysterics and it became a hormonal argument about how I didn't love her or our baby and I was moving to LA to live with Britney because she has a better body than her." Justin took a breath. "It would have gotten worse if I hadn't walked out of the house to go play basketball. I got yelled at for that, but sometimes walking away or not even mentioning things makes life a lot easier."
"Tell me about it," Joey said. He reached for Trey and held him for a moment then kissed his chubby cheek and put him back into the carrier. "You're getting better at that."
"Thanks," Justin said, "So you haven't told her the real reason for you going to New York?"
"You didn't tell Kelly why we're going to New York?" Lance asked turning around from a conversation from behind Joey to join their conversation.
Joey looked around for Kelly and didn't see her, but he still didn't want to start this conversation. The last time they'd had a huge get together like this, before his wedding, Joey remembered getting pushed into the dirt because a fight had broken out. He still had nightmares about the two kids screaming and he wasn't going to let that happen again. Everything was going well at the moment and he didn't want to possibly get into a fight with her over this now. "Shouldn't you be hanging out with your Fiancé?" Joey asked.
"She's talking girl talk with my mother," Lance said pointing, "Besides, I've got the rest of the week before New Years to hang out with her before we both have to work again....So?
Joey reached for his drink and looked around for the kids to see if they were in hearing range. When he saw that they weren't he took a deep breath, "I'm not sure that she'd be too excited to see me going off to New York for two months before we get back into the studio then head into touring mode again."
"But it's RENT Joey," Lance said using that serious business expression that Joey loved to see him use on record labels but didn't like to see him use on him, "Anyone in their right mind would want to do it."
"Look," Joey explained calmly, "All I've got right now is an audition. I don't know how this is even going to go. I'm not gonna tell Kelly about this until I found out for sure if it's even an option for me. I know better than to stress her out like that. I mean I almost missed Christmas and I know she keeps telling me that she's ok, but I know better." He sighed, "I know my wife better than that."
"Better than what?" Kelly's voice rang out .
"We were just talking about what kind of reaction you'd have to a proposal like I made tonight," Lance lied, "Joey said that you'd cry and I said that you wouldn't--- so does your man know you that well?"
"I cried last night when he gave me a silly Christmas present so--" She smiled, "I have a feeling that I'd cry. I think the real challenge would be if I could make Joey cry and get all sentimental."
"Nope," Joey said, "Not possible."
"You got teary at our wedding and when Trey was born," Kelly said, "It's possible."
Joey smiled at the thought of those times when he'd been so emotionally confused that it had come out in tears. At the wedding he'd been so excited and so scared that she'd back out at the last minute that he'd found himself crying from the stress. He remembered that he'd bet a few people that he wouldn't cry, and had promised his mother not to since she seemed to cry whenever he did, but after all they'd gone through to get there he'd broken down just like Kelly and most of the guests had. "Kelly...you aren't supposed to let out all my secrets."
"Honey," she said, "Those reactions are good ones. I'd have to wonder if you weren't human if you didn't bawl like a baby when your child was born."
She moved to pick up Trey and felt his forehead and found that it was warm. She kissed his forehead. "Honey you did cry and it wasn't because I swore at you the whole time. You're in love with your kids and that's just what happens."
"Oh God," Lance groaned.
"I'm not going anywhere near the hospital with the little Timerlake is born," Lance explained, "Justin's gonna ball his eyes out then Mere will cry, you know Lynn will and Mere's parents."
"It's perfectly natural for people to cry at events like that," Kelly said, "Although Justin better be in town when that baby is born or we'll never hear the end of it."
"Speaking of the end of it," Kelly looked over towards her mother, "I think we should head out soon. Trey's been out in the sun all afternoon and the kids are probably ready to get to bed soon."
"Yeah," Lance said, "I think Colleen and Ree and I are gonna head out too. Ree's gonna be around for another day or so, but I have a feeling that the girls are going to be dress shopping by tomorrow afternoon."
"Lance, I have a feeling that Colleen and Ree probably have already been looking for dresses. She might have been surprised by the proposal, but I have a feeling that she knew it was coming in the next few weeks."
"You're probably right," Lance said, "Why can't we just slip off to Key West or Jamaica or something and get married the way that J and Frazana did?"
"It's always an option," Joey said, "It's not like the wedding day is THAT--"
"Don't even say it Joe," Kelly warned.
"I just meant that it shouldn't be considered that important because it's the everyday stuff that is what really counts."
"Not again," Collen said, "If we start this we're gonna start this whole topping each other with smooth moves one of us might end up pregnant or something."
"Well I know how romantic the two of you guys can get--" Colleen laughed and walked over to Lance and cupped his face with her hands, "Lance, honey, that's not gonna happen for a while."
"Hmm?" she turned and looked at him with a dreamy look after watching the sparks going back and forth between Colleen and Lance.
"Let's head home. We've had enough excitement for the day and I'm sure the kids are ready to get back to the house."
She nodded and looked over at the kissing couple, "We'll see you later."
"Bye," Lance said and kissed Colleen again.
"Bye," Colleen said quickly.
Joey found the two bigger kids and packed them up into the car while Kelly said her goodbyes and put Trey into his carried and into the car.
He turned around and found his mother standing there.
"Merry Christmas Mom," he said.
"Are you heading out?"
"Yeah," Joey said, "I got in late last night and all the little Fatones need to be in bed soon."
"I'm proud of you honey," she said, "I want you to know that."
"Because the kids are getting to bed on time?" He asked.
"No," she said and hugged him, "Just because you're being responsible. I know it's hard for you to do all that you need to do AND be their father and Kelly's husband."
"Thanks Mom," he said and saw her start to tear up. He found himself getting a little teary too. He knew he wasn't perfect, but hearing his mom's praise really made him think that he was doing at least something right. He hadn't sat down and talked to his parents in a while to check in with them and made a mental note to do that soon.
"Oohhh," Kelly said coming around the car, "Another time to add to my list that I've seen my hubby cry."
"Shhh," Joey said, "We need to get home before you go blabbing to more people."