by: Rebecca Taylor

Molly Hopewell walked through the quiet halls of Prospects College where she was a professor. It was only quarter after seven in the morning and her classes didn’t start until eight thirty but as usual, she came in early. When she reached her office, there were a few students waiting for her as always.

“Good morning, everyone. What can I do for you all this morning?”

“I need to talk to you,” said one and the others nodded in agreement.

“Okay, let’s start with you Joss,” replied Molly and nineteen-year-old Joss Stamper followed her into her office.

“Okay, Joss, have a seat, you have my undivided attention.”

“I can’t take it anymore, Molly, my parents are driving me crazy, they were bad the last time we talked, but now it is insane. They absolutely hate Jordan; they won’t even give him a chance just because he has long hair. I love him, Molly, and they know I’ve been seeing him. It doesn’t make them happy but so far they’re letting me live at home. They’re just afraid I’ll move in with him if they don’t let me but that doesn’t stop them from criticizing. They insult the way he dresses, how he speaks, everything, right in front of him. Last night, my mother had a fit because when he stopped by to take me out for supper and his shirt didn’t match his pants. So what, he wasn’t showing up to have an interview for fashion designer or something, he was taking his girlfriend out, whom he loves very much. He listens to me Molly, he makes me feel special, he likes me for who I am, and he respects me for me. He is compassionate, has a steady part time job, and wants to marry me as soon as we’re both done school.”

“It seems to me that your parents are afraid. I don’t think they’ve gotten past Jordan’s exterior appearance. They need to get to know his inner self, like you do.”

“I’ve tried to tell them this but they won’t listen to a word I have to say about him. He doesn’t take drugs, rarely drinks alcohol, never pushes me into a difficult situation other than the one with my parents but even there he is so tolerant. He seems to ignore their abuse. He’s the one, Molly; I know he is. I’ve had other boyfriends I can feel it.”

“Have you tried really talking to your parents, Joss?”

“You cannot talk to my parents, they’re impossible!”

“I think that is something which most people say about their parents at least until they leave home and become parents. Why just last week Christine, my youngest daughter, said ‘Mom, how do you do it? Laurie is so much like me, and she’s driving me up the wall. I don’t know what to do with her. How did you handle me, I even have a husband and you were all alone?’ Give it a chance, Joss, make dinner for them, sit them down at the table and say, listen, I have something we need to talk about; don’t say anything until I’m finished talking.”

“I’ll try, Molly, but I don’t think they’ll listen. They’re stubborn when they make up their minds they refuse to budge.”

“Then be just as stubborn and tell them why and how much you love Jordan and that no matter how difficult they try to make it on you, you’ll still love him and that you won’t let them break you up. You can do it, Joss, I know you can.”

“Thank you, Molly, for listening to me even when they won’t.”

“Anytime, Joss.”

After her conversation with Joss, Molly saw twenty-seven year old Jenna Morris.

“Molly, I think I’m ruining my marriage. My kids and my husband just don’t seem to understand why I’m doing this. I got tired of working as a cashier at a department store, I had steady hours, that’s true and I was always home when my family got home but that isn’t what I want to do with my life. I had my first baby and married Joe when I was eighteen, I never had a chance to go to college or figure out what I should do with my life until now. Tammi’s nine now and Mary is seven. They’re old enough to help out and I don’t have to worry about them getting into stuff around the house. Now is the time I have to do this.”

“And you should do it Jenna, for yourself and for your family. The happier you are the happier your family will be. I know it’s hard but you have to stay optimistic and work around the inconveniences, which your education may cause. If you have to order out supper now or then because you don’t have time to cook it, so be it. If your kids have to do a bit more around the house every now or then, that’s okay. It will teach them to be responsible.”

“I know, but I feel guilty. Joe works so hard cooking at the restaurant; I don’t want him to think that I can’t even make one meal for my family a day when he does it for so many and earns us a living. The girls have homework each night and I have to help them and do my own. Some nights I don’t get home from class until eight o’clock at night and by then I have to get the girls ready for bed.”

“Buy frozen dinners that you can just pop into the microwave or make your own on the weekend which your husband can toss in the oven when he gets home, make a salad and have supper on the table. Ask him to help your daughters with their homework. Explain to him that some changes need to take place, because you’re going to get an education. You had children and took time away from that but now is the time to get back to it. You’re still in the first semester of your program, and you need the motivation to get through it. You’re going to get your advertising diploma. I know you can. Believe in yourself.”

“Okay, Molly, I can do this. I just have to do this, for me and for them. I guess this is a rough patch in my life but if I can overcome being a teenage mother and wife, I can do anything.”

“That’s the spirit, Jenna, have a great day. You’ll see everything will turn out.”

After all her classes were done for the morning, Molly was grading some papers in her office when her office mate Sandra McLean came in. She threw her books down her desk.

“That man, is the most irritating in the world. Who does he think he is, telling me how I’m going to live my life after he has the gall to tell me our marriage is over and that we’re getting separated?”

“Calm down, Sandra, start from the beginning. You’ve already told me about Bill wanting the separation and moving out, what does he think you should be doing.”

“He wants me to call his mother, and explain things to her; after all it is my fault. It’s time for him to get real. He’s the one going through his midlife crisis, not me. I thought our marriage was fine, how was I to know he was unhappy. Yes, he was acting strange but I’m no mind reader. I will not call Judith McLean, if she wants to speak to me, she can call me, but the conversation probably won’t be pretty.”

“You guys need to try counselling, sort out your differences. I know you and Bill, and we’ve been office mates for ten years, you two have been happy. I think he’s just going through a period in his life where he’s having a hard time putting everything in perspective. Counselling can help you both put everything in perspective. You’ve also got to think about Cynthia, you can’t put her in the middle of your fight. She’s just started university and even though she isn’t living with either of you, she loves you both so much, don’t make her choose sides, it will get you nowhere.”

“Molly, I think you should have thought about becoming a counsellor yourself, you always know what to say to make everyone feel better, figure out their problems. You live up to your surname Hopewell because you give hope. I don’t know what I’d do without you if you weren’t around and neither do the students.”

“You all give me purpose as well, I like to be able to help and when I see my students smiling in class, coming to me for help, I know why I do what I do. I have one of the greatest jobs in the world.”

“Thank you, Molly, for everything; I’d better be going I have second year business to teach.”

It was then that Jed Rollins came into her office. He was a carpentry student in his first semester.

“I’m ready, Molly, what are we going to go over today.”

“I thought we’d go over this week’s English assignment. We can start on it together and then on Thursday we can go over what you have done. Your reading and writing has really been improving in these last few weeks. I’m proud of you. You are going to be a great carpenter.”

“I’m so thankful that I got you as a professor, Molly, because if I hadn’t I don’t know what I would do. I have to take this English class but reading and writing are far from being my strongest skills because I’m dyslexic.”

“That’s nothing to be ashamed of, Jed, I know you can do it. You have the necessary perseverance that it takes to succeed.”

“Thank you for believing in me, Molly.”

“Any time, Jed, I’m going to be there when you graduate and you’re going to be thinking ‘I knew I could do it,’ and I’m going to be thinking ‘I knew he could do it.’ Don’t forget it.”

Molly left the school parking lot at six thirty. Her classes had finished at five but she had stuck around grading assignments and helping other students. When she got an e‑mail at six o’clock from Jenna, telling her how she had spoken to her family and explained everything that they had been supportive of her and changes were going to take place around the house, Molly knew how important the extra work she did was.