Since Mama’s funeral life had been a whirlwind of depression. Elisha ran into the room to try and comfort me but I was hysterically crying. I was very close to my mother, and I felt like I had neglected her when she needed me most. I inherited everything from her, which wasn’t very much. I found out I was expecting baby number two. However, I was in no mood to care. I had never felt anything like this before in my life and I knew I never would again. Her funeral was full of upstanding citizens from the church and lots of nosey people who wanted to see how I was doing. I felt like me and my family were sharing all the attention during her funeral. It drained me even more. I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted to sleep. I took time off of work from this pregnancy because I needed it.
Ursula tried to console me when she wasn’t busy at her office. I knew that she wasn’t the emotional type though, so I suspect that she was avoiding me during this time of bereavement. I secretly wondered if she could relate to how I was feeling. She seemed sad during Gladys’s funeral, but they weren’t close. I missed Gladys at this time, too. It seemed like life was going too fast.
Life doesn’t always go according to plan, Junie! I could hear her saying it.
I tried to push it out of my head. I had to focus on being a good mother, even if it meant I had to force myself to eat and teach my son before we moved. Raymond was going to be starting school in a few years, so we needed to make sure he could talk, write, walk, potty, and recite his alphabet and numbers in a seemingly short time span. I decided that I had to stop thinking about what ifs and get to work for Raymond’s sake.
“Raymond… Say three…”
Instead of paying any attention to me he just stared at me with a defiant look. I sighed then felt the need to go throw up.
“Dammit!” I said in front of my three year old before running to the toilet to puke. Morning sickness sucked. I walked back into Ray’s room and sat down.
“Sorry, sweetie. Mama just hasn’t been feeling well… Wanna go over your numbers some more?”
“Dammit! Dammit!” my baby yelled. Horror washed over me.
“Oh god… I-”
He kept saying it louder and louder, each time he grew more amused at the distress it was causing me. Raymond had had his terrible twos… and now threes… I knew it would go away soon if I remained in charge and patient.
“Raymond! Stop it this instant. That’s a bad word!,” I insisted.
He crawled away from me and started playing with a toy. I felt like I was failing miserably. Now I would have to teach him words he didn’t wanna learn AND teach him not to say the one word he was keen on. Lucky for me, Elisha walked into the house just then. I cooked dinner then went to bed, but not before Ray told his dad Dammit four times in a row.
The next morning I woke up to go to the doctor. It was one of the biggest shocks of my life. Everything went normally while we got up and got dressed and sat in the waiting room. However, the visit itself was quite extraordinary.
“Good morning, Mrs. Kay,” the doctor said in his sly southern accent. “How ya holdin up?”
“I’m…. ok, doctor…. Just fine. Excited to learn about my little one.”
He got started by asking me a few questions and reviewing over what the nurses checked. I lied to him when I promised that I’d been eating right and he set to work checking on the baby.
“This gel will be a little cold, but it’s necessary for the sonogram,” he said to me as if I hadn’t already done this before. I couldn’t wait to see my baby!
He moved around on my belly while I patiently stared at the screen with him.
“Well I’ll be darn. You’re having twins, Mrs. Kay. Two babies.”
I was excited to tell Elisha. I walked through the door with my heart not quite as heavy.
I waited patiently with delivering the news because I knew Elisha was close to a promotion, and that’d be the best time to reveal it. I worked with Raymond on his walking skills. Potty training had been going smoothly, and he was also picking up other words other than “Dammit!”, but he would still scream it loudly from time to time. Because of that, I was weary about taking him with me to the store and the park, but I knew it was my fault he was saying it. One night Elisha strolled in, happy because he’d gotten that promotion and raise. He caught me just as I was eating some delicious Hot n’ Sour soup.
“Hey, babe!” he said plopping down next to me. “How are you? And the baby?”
“What? What is it?” he asked curiously.
“Well… we aren’t having A baby. We are having TWO babies! Twins! I’ve always wanted twins! They’re going to be so cute! We can get them matching outfits and cute names and-”
Elisha looked really upset.
“Can we afford twins?!” he asked.
“With your promotion and with me working as well, we can, Elisha. I thought you’d be excited. Don’t you like being a father?” I asked, my feelings slowly crumbling.
“This is happening too fast,” he said before getting up and going outside to play his guitar.
The next few months rolled by. I felt like me and Elisha were walking on eggshells. Yes, we did move fast. Not too fast, though. Not to me. Most of the time he was very supportive of the pregnancy and rubbed my belly, but there were also times when I’d see him staring at the doctor’s bills and worrying too much. We had enough money to cover this pregnancy, but we weren’t gonna live lavishly. I knew we would definitely be ok for the move, and that’s what mattered to me. He would usually just play his guitar until he was out of his bad mood.
Right before the babies were due, my oldest baby became a child! I was so excited. He was about to start school. It was the beginning of the beginning.
“Wow! You’re so big now! You’re growing up so fast,” I cooed over Raymond.
“Yeah, mom. That’s great… now… why didn’t I have a party? Why does my room look like this? There’s still a crib and everything…”
He sure had a lot of questions!
“I’m hungry,” he said grumpily before stomping away to the kitchen. I followed behind him, but had to rest near a wall. I knew something was happening. The babies were coming and Elisha was still at work!
My water broke, and I was standing there thinking of how I could explain to my son (who had a lot of questions to ask and loved the word Dammit) why I was standing in a puddle of what looked like urine.
“Mom, did you just pee on yourself? Really?” he said from the dinner table.
“No! No, Raymond. I need you to call your dad… The babies are coming!”
He stood there for a second as if he was contemplating things, but I was in a lot of pain.
“Raymond!” I said between breaths. “I need you to go… and do that… NOOOOW!”
He trudged over to the phone and dialed his father’s number.
“Hey, dad. Mom says babies are coming. Mhm. Ok,” I heard him say nonchalantly. “Dad will be here soon.”
I let out a sigh of relief and walked around a bit while he continued to slurp his soup.
I’d thought that my weight gain with Ray was bad, but this time was even worse. It was still worth it, though. I was no longer petite, but I had two more beautiful children that I loved to death. Since we named Raymond after Elisha’s grandfather, I chose the names of the twins. The thing I loved second to being a wife and mother was cooking, so I named my son Basil and my daughter Pepper. We bundled them up and took them to our home, but the very next week we moved into a bigger, better home that had enough room for all of us. It dawned on me that Elisha may have been right. Finances were tighter than I had thought, and the cost of the house was barely within our budget, but we managed to get everything squared away.
There was just one thing that still needed atttention, and that was my marriage. I knew that Elisha seemed distant. We hadn’t had much romantic interaction since our children had been born, and I missed and needed that. I knew that it was something that had to be discussed. I just wasn’t ready, though, to bring that up. I needed time, so we poured ourselves into childrearing, but as we cheered our children on, we both knew that there was an elephant in the room growing bigger and bigger as time passed.
Elisha spent more time than ever at work, sometimes coming home to soothe the babies before they went to sleep. Raymond would often lurk around the house quietly, only coming out of his room to watch television, eat, and use the bathroom. He seemed to be a quiet kid. One day when Ray was at school and Elisha had a rare day off, I saw him in the kitchen with his guitar.
“I have a surprise for you! Good news!” he insisted. I smiled, excited to hear what he had to say.
Over the most beautiful melody… my husband told me that he had gotten an offer to go on tour. An offer to go on tour while we had three children (two who couldn’t walk or talk or do anything). I didn’t know what to say without letting my anger boil over. I felt stuck. It was official. Something had to change. I just stared at him and let my thoughts flow. This wasn’t what a happy marriage was supposed to feel like.
“Junie? Hello? Earth to Junie?” he said, waving his hands over my face.
“So, I’m just supposed to sit here alone while you travel?” I said calmly as ever. I refused to erupt. I loved Elisha, and yelling wouldn’t get us anywhere… but this wasn’t a good spot for us and I had to accept that.
“Yes. We will be able to afford help anyway. You knew I dreamt of this when we got married. I AM a musician…”
We couldn’t get along unless we were watching the children so that’s what we stuck with. We didn’t touch each other at night, and I spent more time calling and confiding in an aging Ursula than I ever had before.
Parents… you love them. You hate them. I just wish… mine would stay consistently miserable. For my sake! Looks like it’s up to me to start the fun.