Why I Didn't Text You Back

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Why I didn’t text you back:

I have snuck into the bedroom to sit on the edge of the unmade bed and take a deep breath alone.  There’s the baby, who is crying in my arms, but this still counts as alone.  In the other room my three older children are engaged in a miraculous moment of self-contented play, and I am trying to decide if I should wash the sheets on which the baby has puked massive amounts of breastmilk in the middle of the night.  

The baby has had a bath this morning, which is rare, and I must take this into consideration.  I notice that the cat has also puked on the end of the bed in a neat pile beside where I am sitting and I make a mental note, I will wash the sheets, and the blanket.  I spend a minute contemplating whether all the bedding will fit into the washer at once or if I will have to do two loads.  Then I pretend I have not seen the cat puke, I take out my phone, and remember that I have not texted you back.  

I will pretend the cat puke does not exist and write you back.  I have typed an entire three words into my phone when the bedroom door bursts open.  Eloise is crying because Julian is trying to hit her with a stick.  She runs towards me to dive onto the bed and in a brilliant moment of agility I deflect her body away from the pile of cat puke so that only her sleeve has landed in it.  But Eloise doesn’t understand why I have grabbed her, and I have accidentally scratched her face.  

Eloise is crying because I have scratched her and there is puke all over her arm and she does not care about my explanations about piles of regurgitated cat food on the bed.  This is when I notice that the puke is the same color as whatever was on the bottom of Julian’s foot this morning when I found him in the living room crying, “Poop on my foot Mama.”  I have already searched the entire house for pieces of stray poop, and for a brief moment I allow myself to believe it has only been cat puke all along.  This is wishful thinking, because I’ve spent a good part of the morning crawling on my hands and knees sniffing the oriental carpet and scrubbing the hell out of the areas that smell like human feces.  

Julian has now entered the bedroom with a large stick.  The baby is crying again.  Julian abandons the stick for a bottle of gummy vitamins that he wants me to open.  I explain to him that he can only have one, and he already had one this morning.  Julian is two and doesn’t understand.  He is relentless with the vitamins, shouting “Have one, Mama!!  Have one, Mama!!”  Eloise has stopped crying and has found a ball of yarn on the desk leftover from the donut-eating contest at her 5th birthday party.  She is starting to unwind the string all around the room.  I tell her to stop and she tries to wind the yarn back into a ball but can’t figure out how.  She wants me to show her how to wind the yarn but I am trying to help Julian, who is flailing on the ground with the vitamins.  Eloise is mad at me and the baby is still crying.  I set him on the floor next to a pile of unopened mail and let him chew on receipts.  This will keep him busy for awhile.  Then I hear Moses’s voice from the other room, MAMAAAA……..  

And that is why I didn’t text you back.