Author: Jaime K Devine
How long has it been November 15th? I’ve pulled this same picture of a hamster on a running wheel off the One-A-Day Cute Animals calendar for at least a week now. I feel like I’m losing it, so I call my sister.
“Yesterday was November 15th, right?”
“No, today is November 15th.”
“Yeah, I know that today is November 15th, but yesterday was November 15th too.”
“… I think this is just post-partum brain fog.”
My toddler comes running into the room with a poopy diaper.
“I’m sorry, I gotta go.”
Every day, it’s the same. I wake up at 5:47 when my 4-month-old cries. I check the calendar. Hamster on a wheel. I text my friends, “How long has it been November 15th?”
“You’re just tired”, they tell me. I try calling my husband; he’s on a work trip in Japan. No matter when I call, he’s either in a meeting, asleep, or just ignoring me. I check the internet—- well, I try to check the internet. The baby cries; my 2-year-old tugs at my shirt; the baby poops; the toddler poops. I need to poop. The toddler insists on coming with me into the bathroom. No matter how long I am stuck in November 15th, I can’t find anyone else who remembers.
I’m trapped in November 15th alone. 5:47, wake up, settle the baby, try to get back to sleep. The toddler crawls into my bed and kicks my face. The kids are hungry. I hold the 4-month-old to my breast while I try to keep my 2-year-old from spilling cereal everywhere. They are too young to even pay attention to the tv. Too cold for the playground. The toddler won’t nap. The baby has colic.
I just need one day away. I call my sister, “Can you watch the kids?” No, she lives six hours away. I call every babysitter in town. It’s too short notice, maybe tomorrow. I try giving the kids cold medicine so that they will sleep. It makes the baby sick; I spend the rest of the day cleaning up vomit. I take the kids to the fire station. I put the carrier down and I tell my toddler to sit. I run away. The kids scream. Firefighters catch me. I spend the rest of the day with child services. Post-partum depression, they say. They set up an appointment… for next Thursday.
I tear the hamster off the calendar again and collapse to the floor. I just need one day in this endless time loop when I don’t have to wipe anyone else’s butt. When I don’t have a toothless human gnawing on my nipple. When I don’t have to build any block towers. I need just one day off. Just one.
I fill up the bathtub. I put the 4-month-old in first. I have to hold down the toddler. Just one day, I cry. The kids go silent. I go to my bedroom and sleep. I eat lunch alone at a restaurant. I get a beer. I binge watch reality tv. I cry all day.
5:46. I wake up to blood-curdling screams like I’ve never heard before. I run to the baby’s room. He’s thrashing and shrieking. He screams louder when I reach for him. He bats at me. I back away and go to check on the toddler. She’s sobbing under her covers. I pull back the blanket.
“NO!” She shouts in her limited vocabulary. “No! No bath!”
That’s when I realize that I’m not trapped alone in November 15th. My children remember. They will always remember.