The rocking is what wakes me up.
I can hear the baby wailing from the other room; Emily, my three year old, jumping on my bed screaming, “TIME TO WAKE UP”.
I slowly roll over and look at the clock, 5:30am stares back me through my haze.
“That fight was definitely worth getting three hours of sleep…” I mumbled to myself as I drag my body out of bed.
“Emily stop jumping. Right. Now.”
I stumble my way to Matthew’s room.
“Good morning handsome!” I coo at him as I clumsily scoop him out of his crib. His wailing has thankfully turned to a whimper. Emily is underfoot per usual.
“Mumma can I pleaseeee have chocolate ice cream. Oh! Oh! and I want to watch Monster University!”
“I may actually give you that kiddo only if you promise you’ll let Mommy relax for a little while,” I tell her as I usher her down the hall into the kitchen.
Kevin is, of course, already gone for work. The three-hour commute every morning is absolutely ridiculous but he insists that the job is worth it. My sanity, apparently, isn’t all that important in comparison.
The mountain of dishes he left in the kitchen sink are remnants of the hellish battled we engaged in until the wee hours of the morning. I roll my eyes at the note stuck to the fridge that reads: “Out of bread. Need more for lunch tomorrow.”
A squeal across the kitchen draws my attention to Emily; she is attempting to climb onto the counter using the toaster as leverage, which brings it clattering to the floor. Baby still propped on my hip I pick up the toaster and shoot her a look that she knows means she’s in trouble.
“Sorry Mommy” she whimpers at me, trying to hug my leg. It’s hard to stay mad at her for a long time. “Go in the living room and turn on the TV.” I tell her, “I need to give your brother a bottle.”
Kevin and I have been married for three years, since we were eighteen, and it hasn’t been a walk in the park. The argument that kept replaying in my head from the night before had started over a stupid comment about how girls my age normally only had to deal with smelling like their own puke, not a baby’s. I knew it was stupid but it was true.
“Yeah and girls your age don’t usually have two kids, a husband and a house now do they?!” Kevin had retorted, immediately on the defense and abandoning the dishes he was doing.
This was very true, something I’m reminded of every time I went on any form of social media.
“You’re right Kevin, they don’t. Because they’re all still in college having the time of their lives.” I had shot back hoping to end the exchange there so I could go to bed at a decent hour.
He then accused me of not wanting our children and that I thought they were a mistake, which technically speaking they were unplanned.
As always the fight turned into how ungrateful I was for everything he had “given” me.
“I bought this house for you so we could raise the family I THOUGHT you wanted!” he bellowed at me clearly unconcerned that half of my “unwanted” family was already asleep.
“Would you shut up!” I hissed at him. “Our children are sleeping and if they wake up I will be the one that has to deal with them so knock it off.”
As I put Matthew in his high chair I noticed the glass Kevin smashed against the table when I had told him that this was not the life I signed up for.
He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t ecstatic to stay home and take care of the kids all day everyday while he had a job he loved.
“Our children should be your first priority!” he spat at me. “You are selfish and don’t care about this family…”
Staring at Emily dancing around the living room while I prepare Matthew’s bottle I can’t help but resent my husband. We weren’t a couple anymore. We were more like roommates that tolerated each other’s presence because it was necessary. I couldn’t remember the last time we had made it through a day without fighting.
Walking over and placing Matthew in my lap to give him the bottle, I glance at the calendar hoping for some excuse to leave the house. No such luck. Looked like another long day by myself filled with lots of Baby Einstein. At least there was naptime to look forward too; God knows I could use the sleep.
Emily has now turned the television to an almost deafening volume which has lead Matthew to rip the bottle out of his mouth and start screaming again. It’s too early for this.
Suddenly my phone is ringing.
“Who the hell is calling this early?” I say exasperated. “THAT’S A BAD WORD MOMMY!” Emily screams from the other room. My phone keeps ringing.
* * *
I jolt awake. I’m laying in my bed in my apartment, my FRIENDS poster is hanging above my bed. My phone is sitting, still blaring, on my dresser next to me.
I’m still in college. It was all a bad dream.
I pick up my phone and realize it was my alarm that had been resounding in my dream. Thank God.
I lie in bed and think about the boy I fell in love with at 13, the one I would have sacrificed everything I wanted for. I wanted to marry him, spend my life with him, and start a family with him. How naive I had been back then. That could – most likely would be — my life and it would be just as awful as my dream had been.
I have never been so happy to be in my tiny, cramped twin bed in my over-heated closest of a bedroom.