It seems like an eternity ago that I was pregnant with the Verb. And, thank God, because I detest being pregnant. Yes, it’s a privilege. Yes, I’m so lucky that B&B can sneeze on the other side of town and somehow, as a result of that sneeze, I find myself pregnant with yet another of his sons.
My last pregnancy was uneventful from a health perspective. I’d hoped that chasing after 3 boys under 7 years old would keep those pesky pounds at bay the fourth go around. Nope. I still managed to gain my obligatory 50 big ones, despite the fact that I ran for the first 24 weeks. And my daily diet consisted of one soft pretzel and a medium cherry slurpee from 7 Eleven. Oh fine, and a vat of ice cream every night.
While the Verb grew quietly and problem-free within me, my immediate world was a veritable circus act.
I was due with the Verb in August. Perfect way to spend my summer, right? Clammy skin. Chafed thighs. Rash on the underside of my enormous boobs, where they rested on the large ball that had become my stomach. I was a sight to behold.
I’ve mentioned before that B&B is a busy guy. He loves his projects. This is a good thing, because it keeps his mind engaged. It’s also a good thing because, when we bought our house, it was a fixer-upper. So the list of projects was long. B&B is The Man when it comes to home improvements. Dry wall? Got it covered. Plumbing? Piece of cake. Electrical work? Bring it on. Granted, he’s blown himself off a ladder once or twice, but he’s survived to tell the tale.
The December I found myself pregnant for the fourth time, our house had only 3 bedrooms.
Me: “What are we going to do? Where are we going to put this baby?”
B&B: Eyes twinkling, “Easy. I’ll convert the attic into a 4th bedroom.”
Me: Incredulous, “You can do that?”
B&B: Proudly displaying his feathers, “Of course I can do that.”
January, February, March, April, and May roll by.
Me: “So, do you think maybe you should start working on the attic?”
B&B: “It’ll take me no time. Once it’s been cleared out.”
No small task. Remember Monica’s closet on Friends? Her dirty little secret of a closet?
We had the same clutter, but ours filled the entire attic. I spent many sweltering afternoons in the attic, dividing our clutter into piles of trash and piles of treasure. Hence the rash.
While I dehydrated myself and my unborn son in the heat of the attic, B&B decided it was the perfect time to run electricity out to his shed.
Me: Skeptical, “Are you sure you should start another project while the attic still needs converting?”
B&B: Confident, “I’ve got it all covered, don’t you worry about it.”
So, I didn’t worry about the peculiar equipment rental. Ditch Witch? The digging of a 36 inch deep hole that worked its way from our house to his shed…a solid 60 feet in length? That concerned me a tad. That 36 inch deep hole was the equivalent of the Marianas Trench to three mischievous little boys.
My pregnant ass huffed and puffed its way in and out of the house the entire month of June to recover many a lost croc before falling victim to the crevice in the middle of our backyard.
But I eventually completed the attic cleaning, and B&B was ready to get to work. And get to work he did. Every evening, after he got home from his real job.
Waldorf, the Kenyan, the Interrogator, and I stood with our faces pressed against the glass of the front door, eagerly awaiting his arrival home from work every evening.
“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”
Me: Relieved, “Oh, thank God you’re home. What a long day. The Interrogator didn’t nap. He stayed awake and asked me questions instead. How can one person have so many questions? I don’t think I can handle another month of all of these questions.”
B&B: Smiling apologetically, “Sorry, babe, but I gotta get up there. Duty calls. That room’s not going to get done unless I do it.”
With tears in our eyes, we watched him ascend the steps to the attic, his big project, to ensure that there would be enough room for the Verb’s August arrival.
B&B spent every night working tirelessly on the attic. The kids were all in bed by 7PM, exhausted from summer days spent at the pool. I missed B&B and our night time ritual of watching TV together. So, to distract myself,
I ate a vat of ice cream I spent time on Craigslist. What a wonderful, dangerous phenomenon Craigslist is. Instead of selling our heap of treasures, I convinced myself…and then B&B…that the butter yellow armchair for sale was EXACTLY what we needed for our living room.
I picked up that beautiful armchair on Belmont Avenue in the throes of a monsoon with three kids in the minivan. I used my weight, substantial at the time, to wedge the chair in next to the Interrogator…who then rewarded me with a litany of questions the entire drive home.
“What’s this chair, Mom? Mom, what’s this chair? Why’s it yellow, Mom? Mom, why’s this chair, yellow? Is this for the baby, Mom? Mom, is this the baby’s chair? I love this chair, Mom. Do you love this chair, Mom? I love this chair, Mom.”
I managed to survive the inquisition and arrived home the proud…and worried…new owner of the chair.
Me: “Boys, this chair is a decoration. It’s not a toy. You can build your forts on the sofa, but please don’t build them on this chair.”
That evening, as we stood with our faces pressed against the front window, awaiting B&B’s arrival home from work, I kept sneaking glances at my new chair. I love it. An actual piece of furniture. Not from IKEA. I really feel like a grownup.
When B&B blew in, kissing each of us on his way to the attic, my smile stopped him.
B&B: “Why are you smiling?”
Me: Holding my arms out, “Do you notice anything different?”
B&B: A flicker of panic crossed his eyes, “Um, did you lose a little weight?”
No, fool, I was at the doctor today and gained 6 lbs this week.
Me: Shaking my head, “Not me, the room. Do you notice anything different?”
B&B: Making a quick sweep of the room, “Hey, your chair! Really nice.” His face clouded over, “The kids are going to ruin it, you know.”
He made his way upstairs. And I followed.
Me: “No they won’t,” huff puff, “they need to learn that not everything,” huff puff, “in this house,” huff puff huff puff “is a piece of playground,” huff puff, “equipment.”
B&B: Dismissively, “OK, it’s a beautiful chair. I have to work now.”
I saved my new Craigslist chair from the evil clutches of my offspring its first night in my home. I put them to bed, and I sat in the chair, delighting in its ability to support my pregnant frame. A real grownup.
The next day was Saturday. The entire house was up and out of bed by 6:07AM, because that’s what happens to your Saturday mornings after you reproduce. Four people headed down the steps, and one person headed up the steps. B&B, hard at work, went straight up to the attic.
I rubbed my tired eyes and looked at Waldorf. His legs were caked, front and back, with blood.
You first born kids are always biting, scratching, or picking at something.
Me: Sympathetic, “Oh, buddy. You can’t pick those mosquito bites. They’re going to get infected.”
Waldorf: Shrugging, “But they’re itchy.”
Me: “I know, honey, but you’re going to hurt yourself worse by scratching them like that. And you’re going to have scars. Please try to leave them alone. Now play with your brothers while I make blueberry pancakes.”
The Interrogator sneaked into the kitchen and embraced my swollen legs. I rewarded him with a few blueberries. He’s a hoarder, so he clutched them in his hands and ran off to a secret spot where his brothers wouldn’t find the blueberries and snatch them from him. He chose the linen sofa as his secret spot. He inhaled the fruit and erased all traces of purple from his mouth and little hands. By wiping them directly onto the sofa cushion.
Kenyan: “Interrogator, what are you doing?! Mommy! Interrogator got blueberries all over your beautiful sofa!”
It’s 6:18AM. Already with this?
Me: Sighing, “OK. Thank you for telling me. It’s OK.” That fabric is machine washable. “Interrogator, please eat your food at the table, alright, buddy?”
Waldorf: “Mom, can we build a fort?”
Me: Nodding, “Yes. Waldorf, keep those bloody legs off my sofa please.”
The boys quietly built their fort. The pancakes weren’t ready for flipping yet, so I shuffled over to set the table for breakfast. 5 napkins, 5 plates, 5 forks, 2 knives, syrup, butter. Flipped the pancakes. 2 glasses of water, 3 cups of water. Checked the pancakes, which were almost ready…
Me: “Guys, breakfast will be ready in 1 minute, so can everybody please sit down at…”
Above us, we heard a muffled, “Son of a BIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTCCCCCCCCHHHHHHHHH!”
I peered into the living room…just as the kids all looked up at the ceiling to find B&B’s size 13 work boot crash directly through the living room ceiling and dangle above their heads. Drywall pieces fluttered down like snowflakes to coat their noses and hair.
Interrogator: Delighted, “Hey, there’s Dad! Hi, Dad!”
Kenyan: Curious, “Dad, what are you doing with your foot through the ceiling?”
Waldorf: Weary, “Uh-oh. That’s not good.”
I was still assessing what had transpired when the Interrogator began throwing a ball up at B&B’s shoe.
Interrogator: “Catch, Dad! Let’s play catch. Here, here’s the ball, you catch, then throw it back down to me, I’m ready.”
I looked at the clock. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, 6:21AM. Seriously with this?
I watched the large work boot slowly retract back into the ceiling. A few seconds later, the shoe was replaced by B&B’s head, which dangled through the hole in my living room ceiling.
B&B: Looking at the 3 kids directly below him, “Hi, guys.”
Nonplussed, they returned his salutation, “Hi, Dad.”
B&B: “Is everybody OK?”
B&B: “That was a close one.” He grinned and looked at me, “Not nearly as bad as the last time I fell through the ceiling, huh, Beth?”
Nope. Not nearly as bad as the time I came home from the Acme while pregnant with Waldorf to find B&B hanging chest down from the attic into the kitchen, yelling, “Oh thank God! I’m stuck! My shoulders are stuck! Thank God you’re home! I’ve been hanging like this for 10 minutes!” I’d fought the urge to turn around, exit the house, and close and lock the door behind me. Instead I’d maneuvered myself through the cluttered attic and helped to heave him and his bloody elbows out of the hole he’d made.
Me: “Not nearly as bad. I’m sure you’ll patch that hole immediately, right?”
B&B: “Right. I didn’t even curse, did I?”
Me: “Well, maybe a little curse. But, I don’t think they noticed.”
I don’t believe I cursed, so kudos to me.
The pancakes haven’t even burned in the time it’s taken B&B to give me cathedral ceilings. The kids sat down to enjoy their breakfast. Each of their little heads still peppered with drywall flakes.
B&B emerged from the attic smiling despite the blood trickling down his leg. He clapped for himself. Loudly.
B&B: “Whoo. I am so glad it was only my foot this time!”
B&B: “Quickly before I sit down, Waldorf, come over here and help me with something.”
Waldorf, eager to please his Daddy, abandoned his pancakes and ran to B&B’s side.
B&B grabbed a serrated tool and, with a stabbing motion (and no warning), hacked right through the drywall above the light switches by the front door.
What the hell?
Waldorf: Impressed, “Whoa!”
B&B: “I know! There she is!” He continued sawing until a complete rectangle was missing from my living room wall. And a myriad of electrical cords were exposed.
B&B: Pointing to my brand new butter yellow chair, “OK, now sit on this chair please, and listen to everything I say very closely.”
Me: Panicked, “You’re not going to have him help you with the electricity, are you?”
Waldorf hopped onto my brand new butter yellow chair, pulling his bloody legs up under him.
My grownup chair. My beautiful butter yellow grownup chair.
He realized his mistake and, instead of suspending his weight off the chair by the handles, he dragged them along every inch of the chair in his desperate attempt to part ways with the delicate fabric. Delicate fabric that is not machine washable.
B&B looked down at the chair, now a dead ringer for the Shroud of Turin. Its pale yellow fabric was streaked with our oldest son’s DNA.
B&B: Eyes wide, “Yikes. It hasn’t even been 24 hours. I told you they would ruin it.”
I looked at the clock. 6:26AM. In the 19 minutes we’ve been awake, there’d been two bleeders and three casualties: the sofa, the ceiling, and my beloved grownup chair.
I sighed and patted my swollen stomach.
Enjoy these last days of quiet, baby. It’s the only peace you’ll have before joining this crowd.
And please be born soon...Mommy misses her grownup grape juice.