The baby smells like vomit, it’s midnight, and I can’t sleep.
I went to bed at 8 PM. My eyes could not stay open anymore. There were no evening meetings which means I was able to listen to my body and let the kids listen to Dad. I didn’t say goodnight or tell anyone where I was going. I just went. That’s not how I usually do things but going to bed at 8PM is not how I usually do things.
A few hours later the baby came in crying. I say baby but he’s almost three now. He walked over and climbed into our bed in his usual middle of the night spot. His milk is still there and he knows it. Daddy was in bed by this point, but still awake, so he got up to search for the site of the smell. Neither one of us could find anything.
I started having flashbacks to when we moved from Seward to St. Louis. I was six months pregnant with Ethan and summer Greek was a week away. This was our second move in our first year of marriage. That part didn’t bother me. It was the too close for comfort, the too close to the I-170 interstate apartment, where you constantly feared for your life.
I didn’t say anything. So many times I didn’t say anything. I wondered why, for the life of me and our unborn child, why he didn’t say to Jamie, the girl holding the pen for the lease, “Ma’am, this is a nice apartment and everything, and I mean you no disrespect, but I’m afraid this won’t do. How bout one of them quieter units across the street?”
Could’ve saved me and him both a whole lot of crying. That first night I cried and cried, missing our old house, feeling so vulnerable and not-at-home in the new one. He had more patience for my tears back then, before he got too used to them, and he held me tight. He told me not to hear the rushing traffic, but hear the crash of ocean waves.
I listened to him. Girls’ll deny it, maybe even pretend they like to be all independent and everything, but deep down, real girls like a man they can listen too. They want a man who will stand up to them and stand up for them. All those days, when he was at school and me and our first baby boy were home together, I thought of those ocean waves.
Daddy and baby are sleeping now. I laid awake and stared at them for a while, not in the jealous sleep-deprived way of the past, but in the quiet “well would you look at that” kind of way. The kind of way you look at someone you’ve built a over a decade of married memories with, who you’ve shared the bed and the baby smelling like vomit with.
The kind that wonders how you ever went blind to the blessing.