We brought Kate home and began adjusting to life as a family of four. Danny thought Kate was a toy that squeaked, moved, and cried if you poked it in the eyes. We set up a playpen in the family room—a protective perimeter to separate Danny from Kate. Aaron’s trip to St. Louis had proven profitable, he had passed his tests and was an officially licensed stock broker. His license came with a marvelous perk—a legitimate office of his own, a place to get off his feet during the day and here’s the best part, it came complete with air conditioning. With getting an office, Aaron had permission from Goodwin to hire his own personal office assistant. “I am going to spend eight hours a day with this person, and it will likely be a woman, so I want you to help me interview the candidates.” Go back to 4 and clarify when I visit Karly that it’s in a temporary office
On the first day in his new office, Aaron came downstairs showered, freshly shaven, and dressed in a new shirt and tie. “You look like a man with important places to go and people to see.” I sat at our card table wearing wrinkled pajamas, my hair scooped up in a messy bun on top of my head, spooning oatmeal into Danny’s mouth. Kate was sleeping in the playpen next to the table, and Danny kept pointing at her with questioning eyes. “It’s Kate,” I’d say.
Aaron kissed the top of my messy bun. “You’re down here early.” He sounded so chipper. I wanted to go back to bed.
“Kate woke up at five to eat. Danny was wide awake at six. He’s been down here playing. I tried to keep him quiet.”
“I didn’t hear a thing,” Aaron poured some juice. “Did Kate wake up in the night?”
“At two thirty and then at five. Congratulations on your new office. Your first day with a real desk and air conditioning. This is a big day.”
“Yes it is. Have fun here. What are you guys going to do today?”
I didn’t know how to answer. What did he think I should do today? What did he think I could do today? In between hooking a six-pound human to my chest every three hours and stopping eleven-month-old Danny from running over his new sister with his fire truck, what did he expect from me?
Did he expect that I would read Barney books to Danny and tell him the name of every plastic alphabet letter he brought to me. Because that’s what I did.
Did he expect that I would wince and cry each time Kate started to suck on my cracked, bleeding nipples? Because that’s what I did.
Did he expect that I would lay Kate down on our bed and fall sound asleep next to her?
Because that’s what I did.
Laiah and I talked most often when I took Kate downstairs for her 2:30 am feedings. Laiah never seemed to need sleep like I did. I sat in the rocking recliner staring foggy-eyed at the bucket of Danny’s toys in the corner. In the dim, mysterious glow of the lamp light, I expected at any moment for the toys to come to life and perform a midnight matinee in the middle of the family room floor.
“I’m not winning any prizes in the mothering arena, am I?” I whispered to Laiah while I leaned my head against the recliner waiting for Kate to finish. “There’s no report card. How do I know if I’m doing this right? What tells me how I measure compared to other women?”
Laiah knew the answer. “The mothering judges aren’t as direct. You have to watch for subtle signs from people around you. They may not come straight out and tell you what they think, but watch their actions and listen for the underlying meaning of what they say, especially Aaron, and you’ll have a good idea of how you rank in your performance as a mother.”
“Nancy, a lady at church, went two weeks overdue. She said I was lucky that I only had eight month pregnancies.”
Laiah nodded, “People will rightly think that you weaseled your way out of those hardest, last weeks of pregnancy.”
“Does Aaron think that?” I asked worried.
“Aaron never fully believed you about the bed rest. He thought you were milking the situation. The bed rest and the false labor embarrassed him. It made him realize that he married a weak woman.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“You just need to open your eyes and pay attention to Aaron’s cues. What was his reaction after you gave birth to Kate? Did he say you were brave? Did he say you did a good job?”
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