Part seven of a multi-part post. Scroll down for parts 1-6. More to follow because we’re still here.
In the midst of all this, our Rabbi showed up. Saturday is sort of the busy day at the office for him, it being the Sabbath and all, but after Saturday night services, he donned an apron and mask and came to watch Lilah getting her breathing treatment. He’s just that kind of dude.
“How are J and the boys?” he asked. “Would you like us to take the boys tomorrow?” When I explained that J had things under control, he asked how they were doing for food. It turns out that Sunday the Mitzvah Corps was cooking for Synagogue families who have Crap Going On: deaths, births, and hospitalization of two-month-olds, that sort of stuff. His wife, a kindred spirit I have become friends with, would make sure someone fed my family the next night.
Before he left, the Rabbi said a prayer over my baby. As I have mentioned here before, I do not believe in God. I do, however, take any and all prayers offered. As far as I’m concerned, if someone is offering you the very best he’s got, you’re a fool to turn him down.
“Someone’s bringing dinner tomorrow night,” I informed my husband.
“Oh,” he paused ever so slightly. “I guess that means no more leftover pizza.” Another pause, then contemplatively: “the boys’ll be disappointed.”
That would turn out to be the least of our concerns. Estimates had us coming home Sunday or Monday. We were hoping for Sunday because it was about the worst time for J to be off work, and someone had to be with the boys if I was not home. My mother-in-law offered to fly out, but that seemed silly because Lilah would be home by the time she got here.
Sunday rolled around and with it came the party. Birthday parties are stressful for Zach, so we try not to take Ben along. It is usually best for us to be able to help Zach through the overwhelming parts without his brother along for the ride. It stands to reason that none of our regular babysitters were available. Enter Tim, a bachelor friend of ours from college, who apparently had a lovely play date with Ben while J was helping Zach at the Sunday afternoon party.
By Monday morning, the novelty of having just Daddy began to wear off for the boys. Zach got on the phone with me to announce he was sick and needed to go to the doctor.
“Do you need to go to the doctor and get a shot?” I asked.
He was silent for a moment, processing the obvious miscommunication. “No, I just need to go to the doctor,” he clarified.
“Well, she’ll probably give you a shot. Do you think that’s a good idea?” He was silent as it dawned on him that this was not the conversation he had planned. “Or do you think maybe it’s a good idea to go to school and have fun?”
“Mommy, when are you coming home?” Yeah. I thought so.
Lately, I have felt incidental in my boys’ lives. Sure, they are fond of me, but they spend so much time at school or with our nanny or with J that I have begun to feel they are loosening their attachment. Like I am not really a part of their lives. Clearly, I was mistaken.
Benjamin had a lousy day at school, weeping, pushing, and biting. Part of the issue, I suspect, was the gigantic two-year molars that are making their entrance at a remarkably leisurely pace. The other factor, though, was that Mommy seemed to have disappeared. J brought him to see me in the afternoon, and I came down in the elevator to meet them so he would not see Lilah wearing the tubes. Benjamin, perched on Daddy’s shoulders, lunged toward me with a fully lit-up face. But, when it was time to go, all he wanted was Daddy, which was hard not to take personally.
Everyone was out of sorts. J was trying to hold down the fort, with some excellent guidance from our nanny who arrives at 11:30 on weekdays, but he also had things to do for work and a flat tire to fix. Benjamin was crying at lot. And Zachary pretty much limited our conversations to asking in a small voice, “When are you coming home?” I had obviously underestimated the extent to which his emotional life was rooted in my presence.
But, Lilah, although greatly improved, still wasn’t getting enough oxygen on her own. As Monday turned into Tuesday, we regretted telling J’s mother not to come. This was just not going to be a quick fix.