Issue 34

First Weekend


                “Why don’t I take Skylar home with me for a few days?”

                I smile blissfully, reliving the fantasy again, the one where my mother-in-law offers to take our son off our hands for a short while.  Rebecca and I bundle him up and hug him goodbye, then spend some luxurious mornings sleeping in after a couple of hot dates together.  I also see myself rough-housing with the dogs, not having to worry whether Bahroo’s barking will wake Skylar.  Days and nights filled with freedom, the freedom to do anything at all.

                “Nick?”  I feel a hand shake my shoulder.  “So what do you think?”

                The fantasy vanishes, like it always does, leaving a wistful smile on my lips.  Then I realize that this isn’t a fantasy.  My mother-in-law is looking right at me and she’s serious.  I feel my neck muscles tighten.

                “But…”  I clamped my lips tightly around the words before they can escape my mouth.  What am I doing?  This isn’t how the fantasy goes.  I’m supposed to be dancing a gig of celebration.  Somehow, though, I don’t feel like dancing.  I’ve already begun to imagine tomorrow morning.  The house is quiet.  Dead quiet.  I see myself wandering through the halls, searching for my little boy.

                Wait a second.  What am I, crazy?  We’re talking about a free weekend here.  This was supposed to be easy.  I mean, I hate waking up in the morning when he cries.  I lie in bed and try to see if he’s really crying or if he’s just talking.  Sometimes I’ll even nudge Rebecca with my foot to wake her up, then I’ll pretend like I’m still asleep so she’ll get up to take care of him.  I’ve dreamed of sleeping in for nine months now, but suddenly the thought of not hearing him in the morning makes me sad.  Why is this so hard for me?

                I feel like I must be bordering on insanity to be thinking like this.  I run my hands through my hair.  “Okay,” I say, and then my stomach makes a full flip at my betrayal of my son.

                I help pack Skylar’s things in a daze. His little snuggy jacket fits around my hand like a puppet. Why did I want him gone so badly?  I can’t remember.  Do I really want this?  I try to pack some clothes for him, but today was going to be laundry day.  “Just put all of his dirty clothes in a basket.  I’ll wash and fold them.”  My mother-in-law, I can see, has been fantasizing about this day also, though I think her fantasy is going a bit more to schedule than mine and she certainly isn’t going to let something like a pile of dirty clothes shut this down. Suddenly I feel so embarrassed: Skylar isn’t even a year old and already he’s bringing his dirty laundry with him when he visits family.

                It’s amazing just how much stuff a little one needs, and don’t think my mother-in-law isn’t prepared.  She has her own crib, playpen, highchair, and toys.  But a baby needs diapers (two packs of 28 each, just to be sure), formula (a monster-sized can, just to be sure), extra bottles (just to be sure), a second jacket (just to be sure), some toys for the drive (just to be sure), snacks and munchies and…

                My mind screams that I can still say no.  But once he’s in that car and on his way, it’s all over.  My mother-in-law lives over a hundred miles away.  It’s not like I can change my mind two hours from now when the withdrawl pains begin to completely overwhelm me.  I whisper, “If you don’t leave now, he’s going to be staying.”  My mother-in-law hears me, and a look of panic crosses her face.  She knows I’ve betrayed myself.  Suddenly Skylar has everything he needs.  “I can always stop by the store,” she says as she takes Skylar from my arms.  In a flash, he’s buckled into his car seat and all I can see are taillights.

                Numb, I walk back into the house with my arm wrapped around Rebecca.  The house is quiet.  Dead quiet.  Rebecca and I look at each other, paralyzed.  I know I’ve forgotten what we used to do on a Saturday morning.  I suppose we could go to a movie or out to eat.  We could go back to bed and sleep in.  We could even light a fire and not have to worry about someone trying to crawl into it.  These are all things I fantasized about doing, but none of them seem appealing right now.

                “Let’s go out and play,” says Rebecca, breaking the silence.  I think about all the things we need to bring: diapers, wipes, bottles…nothing.  We need nothing other than each other.

                I take her hand and we run out of the house.


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