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Excerpted from No Less Than Greatness by Mary Manin Morrissey. Copyright © 2001 by Mary Manin Morrissey. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Clearly, God had just offered me a gift: forty-five minutes on the freeway to figure out the person I intended to be with Michael."

  Mary Manin Morrissey, No Less Than Greatness, Part 4

Had something happened? A friend’s older brother was supervising. He had promised to drive the kids home by ten o’clock.

"I missed my ride," he explained.

"How did that happen?"

In a matter-of-fact voice, with no apology, he explained that his friend’s brother had been ready to leave, but he had wanted to stay and finish his video game. "I told them to go because you’d come and get me," he finished.

The arcade was forty-five minutes away. My bathrobe was soft and warm. The comforter beckoned. After dressing and driving to and from the arcade, I wouldn’t be back in my flannels until midnight at the earliest, giving me only a few much-needed hours of sleep. Michael knew this. He knew very well I got up at 4 a.m. on Sundays, but the Mary he knew, patience-of-a-saint Mary, who never got mad, who always ignored his insults and sullen attitude, would rush to his side without complaint. Not this time.

"How could you?" I demanded. "You know what time I have to get up in the morning. You were only thinking about yourself, weren’t you? You..." and so forth. I was tired and grouchy and let it show.

I stopped, out of breath, and for a time the only noise on the end of the line was the distant hum of the Mario Brothers electronic jingle and an occasional explosion from Power Pete. Finally, Michael spoke up.

"Who are you and what have you done with Mary?" he asked. The Mary he knew would never have lost her temper. He considered the Mary he knew too good to be true — and in fact, he was right. This twelve-year-old, in his own way, had seen through my disguise. I wasn’t the wicked stepmother of his imagination, but I wasn’t Carol Brady, either. Being grouchy had actually felt quite good.

Clearly, God had just offered me a gift: forty-five minutes on the freeway to figure out the person I intended to be with Michael. What I truly wanted was a great relationship with my future stepson, but I wasn’t going to forge that kind of bond by being someone other than my authentic self. In real life, I’m a person who discourages foul language and lackadaisical hygiene in my children. Yet until this moment, I had pretended to accept what had set me seething.

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