My Family


I was up three times with Julia last night. 

I am on auto-pilot most of the time now, so I could probably be struck blind all of a sudden and I’d still be able to function in the middle of the night, since I hardly turn on any lights anyway.  Which is why ALL the pathways in the house need to be clear.  All the toys and other stuff can be piled up to the ceiling, as long as it is out of my way when I’m on my nocturnal prowls.  That means please don’t leave your shoes right in the middle of the kitchen floor like that because I don’t want to trip over them and whack my head on the sink.  Trust me – you don’t want that either, because I’d get to be hospitalized and you would have to take care of both kids all the time (she said ominously).

So anyway, the second time I got up, I groaned loudly, rolled out of bed, put my hair in a ponytail, put my glasses on (so I can see CLEARLY in the dark) skimmed the hardwoods, barefoot, barely making a sound on my way to the kids’ room, lower the side on Julia’s crib, catch her as she’s rolling back and forth in her crib, where she is shrieking in imagined pain or outrage or just for fun, pat her on the back and bounce her up and down for a second on the off chance that she’ll just miraculously go right back to sleep.  It never ever happens, but I remain hopeful.  Pad softly (on little cat feet) out of the room, shut the door, and carefully hurry down the stairs (12 steps total) to the main floor.  Round the turn through the living room, and again to the left to the kitchen.  The keypad to disarm the security system (I have to shut off the basement motion detectors whenever Julia and I are up at night so we can sit down there in the semi-dark and watch every episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air ever filmed) is on the wall next to the basement stairs.  I pass it on the way to the kitchen, where I make a 4 oz bottle of formula and Julia is still grumpy and squirmy in my left arm.  I shake the bottle to dissolve the formula, flick on the light to the basement stairs (the only light I turn on at night) and head down the 13 steps to the basement.

And halfway down there is a sudden PIERCING SHRIEKING HORRIBLE SOUND and it’s not Julia crying; it’s the alarm going off because I walked right by the keypad without punching in the code so I spin around on the 7th step and run back up as fast as my little legs can carry me, drop the bottle on the floor and punch in the code, hoping that that’s all I’m supposed to do because if there’s more I can’t remember what it might be, and ahhhh, there is silence.  Except for my rapidly pounding heart.  And the amazing sound of my husband, hurrying down the stairs in the middle of the night.  I yelled to him that it was just me, and he tells me he has the number to the security office in his wallet, but that’s okay, I have it in mine, so he turns around without another word and heads back to bed…probably cursing me, who knows.

I call the security office hotline and tell them it was a false alarm and to verify that it’s me, they ask for my passcode, which, bright girl that I am, I have NOT written down on the little card with their phone number on it, because in the event that the card should become lost or stolen, someone could break into my home, pretend they are me, stop the police from coming over, and steal all the diapers and dirty dishes.  Anyway, I think I know what my passcode is, but then I panic, thinking that maybe I’m wrong, and if I give them the wrong passcode, they’ll think I’m a burglar (who brings her crying baby with her on break-ins) and send the police over to arrest me in my stained tee shirt and sweats.  After hesitating (suspiciously, I’m sure) I hazard a guess, and – thank goodness – I get it right.  They tell me they will cancel the call to the police, and I am free to go.

So Julia (who is wide awake and kind of excited by all this) and I (who am wide awake and not at all happy about it) go back down the basement stairs.  My heart stops for a second halfway down, just in case the alarm has somehow re-set itself, even though I obsessively looked at it three times before going ANYWHERE.  And we turn on the TV and I change Julia’s diaper and give her a bottle and try to take deep cleansing breaths.  Around 2:30 we go back to bed, where I proceed to have weird, disjointed dreams about creepy bearded men trying to get in front of me in line somewhere.  (I have no explanation for that one).

This morning Bill and I kind of briefly talked about this as we sped about in our own frenzies to get ready for work and out the door…he said we behaved exactly as we shouldn’t have.  One person should have gone to stay with the kids (protectively) while the other…I don’t remember…maybe watched for the police or watched for the burglar.  But his first instinct was just to run downstairs and see what had happened…and he said "what if I’d found you lying there dead?" – but instead of this having any kind of emotional effect on him, it just led him to conclude that if I’m already dead, there’s really no need for him to become dead too…so if it happens again, I expect him to dash to the kids’ room and wait there until the police come.  I will have to fend for myself.   

2 thoughts on “Alarming

  1. And the difference would be………..

    (Dear lord, please don’t let Bill read this comment, or I will NEVER get that yummy root beer he makes!!!!)
    DISCLAIMER to Bill, and all other men: You can’t help it. You really can’t. But we are basically in charge all the time. And we know it.

  2. “there’s really no need for him to become dead too”

    You know, there’s a kind of ruthless logic in that. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how adrenaline can kind of wipe out sentiment … you don’t have time for that – it’s instinct, and fight or flight stuff.

    I also like the image of a burglar climbing through the window of a house, holding a crying baby.

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