when they grow up they will look back and judge

Last night my husband uncharacteristically drank too much while we were at a party. I did not realize he was doing this; we had an agreement I would be the designated drinker this time around. As it turned out, I did not take on this opportunity so at 11:27 PM when the coinciding events of A. my hostess discovering all the beer was gone and B. my Beloved came stumbling / falling down the hill and into the firepit I was shocked and (fortunately) very sober. It fell to me then to sort the kids and a weaving 205 lb. man in pitch black to our van then go back and disconnect the A/V equipment Ralph had brought over so we could watch an outdoor movie via laptop-projector combo (this last duty was the only one I was slightly irritated at; I hate wires and cords as a rule).

People who get drunk on beer shock and awe me. I know it’s possible; I’ve even done it myself (long, long ago). But I can’t get my mind around it anymore. These days if I merely think about that level of inebriation fueled by beer my tummy groans and grows flaccid, my bladder becomes hot and agitated. I can’t remember what that kind of drunk feels like. No, I am a sucker for a nice cocktail (or two, or…?) and the proverbial “glass of red wine” (why don’t I just put it in a quart-jar and be done with the refill thing?) so I do in fact remember what “being drunk” is like (let’s see, one week ago would do it). I just don’t have the stamina for the beer-drunk. But I do appreciate the effort that goes into it.

Back to my evening: after a quiet ride home we pull into the driveway just around midnight. I sort out two sleepy but happy children (one furnishing a “bonus” soiled diaper) and help tuck Ralph into bed. I lay Nels in his toddler bed and head downstairs to wash out the diaper. Back upstairs where I tiptoe into our bedroom and detect the forms of husband and oldest child under the covers. “Ralph, are you going to sleep in here with Sophie?” I whisper. No answer from my spouse, but “Yeah!” whispers li’l Nels – another fugitive from Mama who must’ve sped out of his room quickly when I left and now nestles contentedly in his father’s armpit. He watches me with bushbaby-bright eyes as I laugh softly and lean down for a kiss.

Sophie is awake and patiently waiting for snuggles so I ship The Boys into the kids’ room. They go without a fuss; I wash up and slip into PJs, then crawl into bed with Sophie for a while before heading back to the kids’ room to shuffle Nels into his own bed and thereby spare Ralph a stiff back in the morning. To my surprise as I lean over them both Ralph jolts from a deep sleep into a firm ass grab (a reflex one has to admire from a sleep-deprived and severely intoxicated male). I dodge the bullet, slip away, and transfer the littlest Boy into bed; tuck them both in and make my way back to my bedroom.

My daughter is forgoing her thumb-sucking as best she can and tonight she seems hungry for stories of family lore. She asks in proper order to be regaled with my two pregnancies and births, starting with before I got married. I tell the long versions of my birth stories and occasionally drift off, thinking, only to be interrupted by, “Now tell the part where you named the baby,” or the like. Everytime I tell Sophie stories I remember something new about my births, like my mother cooking an amazing fettucine primavera when we came home from the hospital, or the blue knit dress I wore while laboring there, surely looking like a horrific tent-like beast. Sophie’s little brain whirrs and her eyes darken as she imagines birth, imagines babies – imagines her own hard little head one time being soft enough to pass gently through my body and into this world.

Finally the light goes out, I wrap my arms around my daughter and she brings her head close to mine. Sleep for the four of us until the morning.

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