PAGE # 88
Morning Through Afternoon

I was at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  I was not supposed to be at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Not even close.  

It was Friday--the one day of the week that I have babysitting help--and I had planned to catch up on some chores, maybe even take a nap.  But Tom, who was supposedly off from work for the holidays, ran out for a business meeting early in the morning.  And my father-in-law, with no prior warning, decided that this very day would be the day when TJ got his driver's permit.  He appeared in my house even before I'd had my coffee and immediately dragged TJ out of bed.

"But Grandpa," TJ protested, "I haven't even studied yet."

"Study Shmuddy!  Who needs to study for a driver's permit?  You can study while we wait in line," my father-in-law told him.

"Wait!" I said.  "I can't do this today.  I have things I need to get done.  And I'm too tired for this right now."

"I'm taking him," my father-in-law said.  "You don't need to come."

"I doubt that," I replied.  "I don't think he can get a permit without a parent there."

"Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer.  Don't worry so much.  I am the grandfather.  They will deal with me.  Relax."

They left for the DMV, and within the hour, Tom texted me instructions to head to the DMV right away.  Of course a parent needed to be there.  And, I needed to bring my license and two utility bills for proof of address.

Oh, I was so mad!  I was exhausted from the new baby and the holidays.  I wanted to rest.  Instead, I spent hours at the DMV, waiting in lines and feeling totally annoyed at my father-in-law--who left upon my arrival so he could grab some lunch.

TJ and I were still waiting, when at 12:56 pm, I received this text message from Tom:
Nate and the whole clan are coming over around 2:30, after lunch.
Nate is one of Tom's best friends.  The "whole clan" referred to Nate, his wife, his two daughters, his two sisters and their respective husbands, as well as his parents and parents-in-law.  A grand total of twelve unexpected house guests. In addition, Tom's parents would attend the impromptu event, along with Tom's brother, his wife, and their two children, raising the head count to that of party status.  I wanted to punch my husband between the eyes, but since I was still stuck at the DMV (where Tom was not stuck), I sent him back this text message instead:
I'm still here at the DMV!  The whole clan is coming?  I need a fucking shower!  I'm going to kill your dad too!  I'm stuck here for hours like a moron!  On my special babysitter Friday!  I need to shower before they come.  Seriously.  I am disgusting.  I am gross.  Very gross.  
Tom did not empathize with my frustration.  All he wrote back was:
U have time.  No cursing.
I was livid.  All I wanted was a few hours to myself--already impossible--and now I had to prepare to entertain guests?  At the last minute?  

TJ failed the permit test.  When we returned home, he carried his despondent self straight to his room and slammed the door behind him.  

Tom, on the other hand, did not let the bad news about the permit test affect his mood:  he was beaming, looking radiant as he held Baby Lily in his arms. He was eager to show her off to his friend.  He smiled over at Sara, who was playing with the babysitter.

I ignored Tom when he said hello (maybe I gave him a dirty look), and ran straight toward our bathroom.  I wanted to check my email again (Kendra had still not replied to me), but noting the time, I hopped in the shower.

Weeks later, after Baby Lily was gone, I would remind myself of this day in an attempt to console myself.  I'd convince myself that having a third child was too much for me anyway.  I could barely handle a day at the DMV and some unexpected visitors that day--how could I handle a third child for the rest of my life?

To Be Continued... 



PAGE # 87
Throughout the day...

Pretend you were there that day, watching me from a window, observing my activity morning through night.  What would you see and what would you conclude if you knew nothing further about the details of my life?

You would have seen this:

A house full with me, my husband, three kids, a dog, friends and neighbors stopping by (and later that night--my aunt and uncle), holiday decorations and new toys.  There was a flurry of non-stop social activity.  Shared meals. Diapers changed.  The mundane details of an otherwise ordinary life.  

You would also notice that in each and every opportunity between feedings, laundry, and conversations with others, I was engaged in a most obsessive pursuit: checking my email.  You would have seen me on my iPhone, scrolling madly through my online mail.  You would see a middle aged woman, surrounded by her domestic obligations who took each and every spare moment to check her phone again.  And again.  And again. 

And except for those captured moments--me, looking frantic and wild for something on my iPhone--for someone--you would be otherwise bored. There's not much intrigue associated with washing baby bottles.  

But...you'd want to know what was going on with all that checking of my phone. You'd probably think I was having some secret love affair--waiting for my lover to make contact!  It would explain the compulsive checking behavior.

But you would be wrong.  I was waiting for Kendra to reply to my last email.  I would calculate the passage of time between our previous correspondence--Kendra had always replied quickly and within the same calendar day--and I did, in fact, suffer from a feeling of abandonment by nightfall.

When my aunt and uncle arrived that evening, bringing with them a homemade Italian feast, I was so grateful for the nourishment and the distraction.  We ate and we laughed.  My aunt held Lily most of the night, and again, as I had noted during my mother in-law's visit, I realized I was more able to "share" Lily with others than I had been with TJ and Sara during their newborn stages.  Again, I wondered whether this indicated that I loved Lily less than I did my biological children?  Or, maybe all mothers hand off the third child with greater ease? Perhaps it was simply a matter of exhaustion. 

After my aunt and uncle left, and all the kids were sleeping, Tom practically leaped into our bed.  "Come on, what are you doing?  Let's go to sleep already."

"One sec," I told him, as I checked my email again.

But there was nothing from Kendra.  I plopped down beside Tom. 

"Goodnight," Tom said.  "I love you."

"Kendra hasn't written me back from last night."

Tom rolled over to face me.  "She's probably just busy.  Don't forget, she still has two little boys she's caring for.  Let's go to sleep.  I'm sure you'll hear back from her tomorrow."

"But she always writes back the same day."

Tom sighed.  "Jen, come on, I'm exhausted.  She's probably exhausted.  Forget it for now."

"Okay," I said.  "I just hope she's alright."

As I closed my eyes, I wasn't just worried for Kendra.  It was more complicated than that.  I felt the anxiety of a cast-off lover.  I felt the pain of rejection. There was something humbling and humiliating about being chosen by a birth mother and then, in a mere day's time, feeling neglected by her.  But what exactly did I expect from this younger woman--a daily ongoing partnership? What more could I possibly want from a woman who had already given me her baby!  

To Be Continued...