Chapter 16: Martin
“We need to be a team.”
That’s what Melanie has just said.
Well, of course we need to be a team. We’ll be the greatest team ever.
I say this out loud, and she smiles.
“What does being a team mean to you?” she asks.
“What do you see us doing to be a team? What do I do? What do you do?”
We’re still sitting on the couch, and I want to just pick up my teammate and carry her into the bedroom, but I sense that finishing the conversation first would be the best road to take.
“Well, um, er, I work and you take care of our baby.”
Oh good, it was the right answer.
“That’s right. I don’t want to work. The only career I need is raising children. You can play with them, of course, and we’ll need to discuss important issues so they can’t go to you and say, ‘Mom says I can borrow the car,’ when I said nothing of the sort.”
“I knew a boy who could do that. He’d ask his mom for something, she’d say no, so he’d tell his dad that his mom said whatever it was was okay. His dad would allow it. My mom never undderstood why they kept letting that happen. She and Dad always agreed on the important things.”
“My parents are the same as yours,” she says.
I smile. This conversation is about to end, and the fun’s about to begin. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love talking to Melanie, but I love loving her even more.
“Who’s going to cook dinner?”
“Which member of the team cooks dinner?”
“Who cleans the house?”
“That’s starting to sound just a little bit one-sided.”
“I’ll be very busy with the new baby. Have you ever seen somebody look after a baby?”
“No. I’ve seen them being pushed in strollers when I’m out, but that’s about it. I thought you only needed to feed them, change them, and put them in the crib.”
“The only part of your last sentence that I object to is the word ‘only.’ Feeding them takes time, and so does getting them to sleep. They often cry and you have to figure out why. It’s not like an older kid who can tell you what they need. So once the baby is born, I won’t always have time to make dinner. I also may not always have time to do all the laundry. Our clothes don’t go with the baby’s clothes. I also might not always get around to vacuuming and dusting. I can do about half of all that, but I need my teammate to do the other half.”
“Well, maybe we could order dinner once in a while. Heck, maybe we can hire a housekeeper.”
She shakes her head.
“I don’t think we can afford that. Besides, I don’t want a housekeeper or to order dinner half the time. What would be best is for you to do it.”
“But I work.”
“Once the baby comes, so do I.”
We look at each other.
She’s still smiling, but her expression has lost some of its usual softness.
“Maybe we could . . . um, ask my mom to live with us. You and her could split things like laundry and putting the baby to bed.”
Mom did say she missed having a child in the house, so asking her to cook dinner sometimes wouldn’t be such an imposition.
“That’s an interesting idea. I haven’t met your mom yet. Even if she likes me, will she want to leave her home and live with us?”
“I’m sure she’d help out.”
“Yes, mine would too, but I’d only want to ask her if I was sick. This isn’t helping out we’d be asking her to do. This would be living with us and doing half the housework and child care every day until the child is old enough to go to school. I know Mom would not do that. I also wouldn’t want her to. We’d clash over things like what color shirt the baby wore.”
She puts her arm around me and pulls me closer.
“When we need some time to ourselves, that’s when we ask Mom to take the baby for a few hours or overnight. Let’s talk more about this stuff later.”
The next day, she goes to tell her parents that she’s expecting.
I have a much less pleasant task ahead of me when I come home from work.
I need to find a lawyer.
I don’t know any or how to find a good one, so I just look in the phone directory.
I end up making an appointment to talk to one the next week. I’ll have to come up with some reason why I’m staying late at work.
My phone rings.
“You’re invited for dinner tonight. See you soon.”
She’s right. Her parents like me. Now all I have to worry about is Mom.
I call her and arrange to visit on Saturday after work.
“Mom,” I say, as soon as we’re sitting in her living room, me with coffee and her with tea, “I have something important to talk to you about.”
“Well, you know Susan?”
“Of course. How is she?”
“Um, I don’t know. She . . . she left.”
“Just this week?”
“No. I’m sorry Mom. I’ve been too ashamed to tell you. It happened after Christmas. I woke up one morning and found the key on the table and a note saying she’d met someone else.”
“Oh Martin, you know you could have told me.”
“I know, but I wasn’t sure how I felt, you know?”
“Is there? I hope it’s good news.”
“Yes. I’ve met someone else. Her name’s Melanie. Mom, we’re . . . she’s expecting.”
I leave after promising Mom that I’ll make absolutely sure Melanie and I come to visit her the next afternoon.
It all goes well.
Mom and Melanie laugh and joke, I drink coffee, and Mom makes some kind of herbal tea for the two of them.
Susan’s name never comes up.
If the lawyer’s any good, her name will never be mentioned in Melanie’s hearing.