The phone rang this morning – just 10 minutes before 8 – and I groaned as I rolled over. I woke at 4:00 and tried to read a bit. I was unable to focus and welcomed Sprout as he hopped on my lap. He purred while I petted soft, stripey fur. Lifted his chin and allowed his eyes to drift closed. For some unknown reason, he decided to escape so I walked back down the hall to bed. Chienne took her turn at cuddles and after much tossing and turning, I went back to sleep.
I allowed the call to go to voice mail and I stretched and yawned, then thought about having coffee in a new mug and sesame seed bagels with honey nut cream cheese. I like food very much.
As I started the short trip down the hall, I suddenly quickened my steps as I remembered some details. Possible callers?
1. Pest People – The gnats are never far from my thoughts, and I wondered if the letter I mailed yesterday had reached them already.
2. Friend – She has been working at incredible length of late and a draft of her paper is due to her boss today. Her car almost failed to start at 1:30 this morning when she headed home and I wondered if she was returning to campus uncharacteristically early to finish something up. If her car was uncooperative, she might need a ride.
3. Mom – Though she is much more independent and healing nicely, I still worry something will go wrong.
4. Mom, 2 – My brain finally landed on the likely correct reason. Brother had dropped Little One off last night when he and his wife went to the hospital. Baby-To-Be apparently belongs in our always early family and is seeking to be early for her arrival. I assumed Brother’s Wife was being silly when Mom called last night, but she remains in the hospital this morning.
“Little One is here and she wouldn’t sleep last night.” Mom reported grumpily. “She asked for another movie at 10:30 and I listed all the movies she’d watched so far and told her that Grandma’s knees hurt every time I had to switch DVDs and we needed to go to sleep.”
“Oh, no.” I said, sympathetic.
“I thought your dad was asleep, but he came down the hall, picked her up and found a new movie she wanted. I told her I was sorry for being mean and she cuddled with me and went to sleep.”
“Hard not to be grumpy when you’re hurting.” I said.
“Tired, Katie. I’m very tired.”
“More juice, Grandma.” I heard Little One say in the background. I smiled at the sound of her little voice and laughed when she added a “Please. Now.”
“Hold on.” Mom told both of us and she put the phone down while she stood up.
“Apple.” Little One requested. “Please.”
“I don’t have apple.” Mom told her. “Just orange and grape.”
“Grape, please.” She decided and Mom told me she was eating cashews for breakfast. I nodded and decided that would probably be fine. Then I remembered the cashew chicken take-out that is still in my fridge.
They went through the sippy cup selection procedure (the colors are important and Little One must select the right one unless you want a repeat trip to switch the cups when her little face crumples in disappointment) and I heard the word apple again.
“I don’t have apple.” Mom said with an edge in her voice. “Orange or grape.”
I allowed her to finish before asking after Brother.
“Brother’s Wife should go home today. They’re putting her on pills to stop the contractions and bed rest for the next two weeks. They’ll deliver after that but they don’t want Baby-To-Be to be a preemie. Something about the Neonatal Intensive – What, Little One?”
They had a brief discussion about television programs before Mom returned to the call.
“What was I saying?” She asked.
“Brother’s Wife goes home tomorrow?” I offered. “How is she doing? Emotionally?”
“I haven’t talked to her.” Mom noted. “Brother called this morning.”
“How is he?”
“Tired. He’s going to be busy these next few weeks. He’ll do everything for Little One and take care of the house and his wife, plus he’s switching jobs at work so he’s overwhelmed doing two jobs during the transition into his promotion.”
“Wow.” I sighed, rethinking my late night thoughts about how much I wished for a partner.
“So he slept at the hospital, then went home to shower. He’ll go to work for a couple hours to take care of the most urgent tasks, then get back to the hospital. Little One is with me for the day.” Here I worried – the last time they stayed alone together, Mom ended up exhausted and pained. “Your dad will be home around noon, I think, then I’ll have help. But your brother is going to struggle.”
I believe Baby-To-Be will be fine and Brother – though certainly stressed – will come through brilliantly. I’m not a big fan of his wife, but she is a good mother. They’ll be OK. But as I look around my home – the one I thought just hours ago as being lonely, wishing fruitlessly that someone other than a dog waited for me in bed – it suddenly seems peaceful. Full of time I use selfishly, a schedule that flexes according to my whim, and time to sip coffee and write a blog post while those folks who look remarkably like me scurry around at home.
I wish I were closer. I do want to help. But I suppose there are benefits to being far away. And now I’m going to toast my bagel.