By L. Belew
“It’s been over two years. I was thinking about it, and if my math is correct, I think it’s been about 806 days. . .”
Brandon finished helping Devin with his bath and getting him into his pajamas. When Dad took care of bath time, there was a considerable amount of playtime intermingled. But 5-year-old Devin had chosen his book and now Brandon was reading him a bedtime story.
I let Pretty Girl out into the backyard. Devin had started calling our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel “Pretty Girl” after having heard me calling her that. Yes, I am that pet owner who baby-talks to her dog. And yes, I decided I needed Pretty Girl after seeing the Sex and the City episode with Charlotte and Elizabeth Taylor at the dog show.
With the house cleaned, the dog taken out and Brandon taking care of Devin, I walked into the kitchen and poured my strict one-only glass of Roscato. I took it back to our bedroom. I had been trying to finish a much-acclaimed book and thought I’d sit and read before bed. After applying intensive therapy moisturizer to my heels and putting on my fuzzy socks, I sat down in our bedroom chair and covered up with a throw.
I was on the 3rd chapter when Brandon came into the bedroom. He knew I enjoyed my quiet time and that I had been talking about finishing my book for weeks. He didn’t say anything as he went into the bathroom. It was when I heard the water from the shower that I noticed I could not remember what I had just read. Frustrated, I just sat back in the chair and let my mind wander. . .
It was baby Devin’s 5th birthday today and we’d had a party for him at the house. It had been small. We had picked up Grandma from the assisted living facility and she had been there. She had raved about the renovation. Devin had had to show her his “big boy” room.
Once Grandma had decided, after considerable thought and encouragement, that it was no longer safe to live at home by herself, she sold us her home in hopes that we would complete a much-needed remodel and keep it in the family. We had decided it would be an adventure to renovate Grandma’s house. Calm, laid-back Brandon saw life as an adventure. I thought we’d both had enough adventure for the foreseeable future. But, we decided to redo the 1,660 square foot craftsman-style house. I’d heard somewhere that a couple who could make it through a home remodel could make through anything.
In the past few years, we had already made it through more than I thought possible. The loss of my parents was a shock. Brandon had graciously agreed to move so that we could take care of my grandmother. When that had got to be more than we could handle, he supported me as I worried for months about the decision to move Grandma into assisted living. And we were trying to have a baby amid all this. Add several doctors appointments, invasive tests and three rounds of IVF to the list. Even though each and every time I thought it was too much, Brandon was there. “We’ve got this. We’re in it together.” I never felt like I’d “got this.” I don’t feel ashamed admitting I needed a little professional help.
I started therapy not quite a year before getting pregnant with Devin. Brandon and I had been arguing a lot because of stress. I had wanted a baby so badly and Brandon had wanted to give me a baby so badly. My perfectionist personality led to a lot of anxiety and it all finally came to head. I hate that I had been so ugly to him. I would just scream and rage from the frustration and I resented how overly optimistic and so freakishly calm he was. But he had finally had enough. It was at his “suggestion” that we talk to someone. We talked out a lot in therapy.
Life improved. I was happy, but I knew and accepted that I’d have to keep using the skills I’d learned in therapy. My perfectionistic tendencies and anxiety crept in after having baby Devin. I had to work through feelings of needing to have the perfect nursery, feed my child only healthy organic food, be the perfect wife and mother.
I heard the shower door close. I went to set my book on the table when I knocked over my wine glass. I took a deep breath and ran to grab a towel from the laundry. I was stepping on the towel in my fuzzy socks to absorb the wine. Brandon had come out of the bathroom.
He said, “You’re attacking that carpet like a criminal trying to get rid of the evidence.”
“Remember us talking about this when we put in the carpet? I wanted to put carpet in the bedroom because I don’t like to have cold feet.”
“You know I know about your feet,” Brandon said, “You love putting your cold feet on me.”
806 days is how long it lasted. I thought it would be Devin or the dog or Brandon’s muddy work boots. It was me who ruined the carpet. I used mindfulness and gratitude techniques. “I love my husband’s patience. I love my son’s snaggle tooth grin.” It all flooded my mind. “I love my life.” I took off my wet socks and put them on top of the towel. I crawled on top of covers toward Brandon. I was trying to act sexy but in a silly way. Brandon threw back the cover and I sidled up next to him. I put my cold feet on his hairy calves. “Mmmm,” I said. “You’re so warm.” Brandon replied, “Your feet are not.” We both chuckled and just held each other. I hadn’t turned off the lights. He snored. I probably drooled.
L. Belew is a new writer taking their first writing class.