Chapter 20: Melanie
Martin still doesn’t like the idea of a guy doing my ultrasound, so I reschedule it for when he’s at work.
“I won’t ask for any information without you there. But they need to do this.”
The person doing the ultrasound is a woman. She’s brusk and business-like. In fact, she doesn’t even smile.
Roberto would have been much better.
Martin has had three root canals in a month. That wouldn’t worry me, although of course I’ve heard those are no fun, but he comes home ready to eat dinner.
That does worry me.
He doesn’t comment about the freezing coming out, feeling any pain, or having to eat on the other side. Something is definitely up.
It’s just before five in the morning, and I’m making breakfast while Martin has a quick shower.
I dish it out just as he walks into the kitchen.
He sits down and tucks in.
After he’s eaten, he says, “I have a doctor’s appointment at four, so I’ll probably be a little late tonight.”
“Okay, I hope everything’s okay.”
He doesn’t answer but gets up and goes toward the door.
“Please put your plate in the sink.”
“You leave your plates and stuff on the table, and it’s kind of annoying. Can you please put them in the sink?”
“Oh, um, I don’t have time.”
“Yes, you have time. You have at least ten minutes.”
“I like to be early.”
“Please put your plate in the sink. You’ll still be early.”
I’m not sure why I’m picking today to have this out with him, but I’ve had it with the way he just leaves dirty dishes lying around.
He puts his shoes on.
“You have a choice. You can start cleaning up a little or you can make your own dinner tonight and your own breakfast every morning.”
“Look, I don’t have time for this.”
“Neither do I. I’m tired of doing all of the housework all of the time. From now on, I’m only doing two thirds of it. Since I need clean clothes, some of your laundry might not get done.”
“But I need clean clothes. Look, I have to go. I can’t be late.”
“Okay, but I mean it. I’m not making dinner for you tonight.”
He slams the door.
Okay, this could get interesting, but I’m not going to give in or back down.
At nine, I get a call. My doctor wants to see me, and she can do 4:00 this afternoon.
I call Martin right away. He’s working, so I get his voicemail.
“It’s me. I got a call from my doctor. She wants to see me at four today. I’m worried about the baby. The receptionist couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me anything. I know you have an appointment, but I didn’t want to try to change this.”
I spend the rest of the time being nervous about whatever the doctor wants to tell me.
At three, I get into my car and drive to the clinic.
Dr. Smish keeps me waiting until 4:30.
Martin hasn’t come.
“Sorry about that,” she says as we sit down. “What can I help you with today?”
“I don’t know for sure. I got a call asking me to come in today.”
“Oh, let me have a look.”
She types and reads.
“Oh, I see we’ve received the results of your ultrasound.”
“Is there a problem with the baby?”
“Let me just take a look.”
She clicks keys and reads.
“Everything looks good. There’s just one thing you need to know.”
“You’re carrying twins.”
Numbly, I thank her, make sure I have my card for the next appointment, and drive home.
“Where the [blank] have you been?!” Martins says as soon as I walk into the kitchen. “It’s time for dinner.”
“First of all, we don’t speak to each other like that, and second of all, I’m not making you dinner because you refused to put your plate in the sink. Thirdly, I left you a voicemail to let you know where I was.”
“I didn’t have time to check my phone. In case you’ve forgotten, I work.”
“What about at two? I could have used your support at the doctor.”
I sit down at the table.
“Yes. She called this morning and wanted to see me at four.”
“You knew I had an appointment at four. My root canal.”
His root canal?
Something is definitely wrong here. This morning, he said it was a doctor’s appointment.
Maybe he said the wrong thing.
“Yes I knew you had an appointment, but this was about our baby, and I didn’t want to postpone it. Everything is fine, but I’m having twins.”
“That’s great. I wish you’d called me.”
“I did call you. I left you a voicemail.”
“You should have called me at two.”
I throw up my hands.
“You should have checked your messages at two. Can we cut the crap and be adults here? We can’t be parents if we’re going to fight over the smallest things.”
“Yes, you’re still kind of young, but I’m sure things’ll be better once the . . . twins are born.”
“No. This whole thing started because we have a problem. Let’s solve the problem.”
“So can you make dinner, please?”
“How about you make dinner? Either for yourself or for both of us.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
I shake my head.
“I’m serious. I’m not cooking tonight. I bought some veggies and bread so I can make myself a sandwich.”
“Okay, I guess we can have sandwiches tonight.”
“Sure, you’re welcome to make yourself one.”
“Can’t you make me one?”
I shake my head.
“If you really don’t want to cook, you can order dinner tonight, but that gets expensive.”
“No, I’m not ordering dinner. I eat like that at work.”
“Okay. Well, what are you going to make for yourself?”
“Come on, why are you doing this to me?”
“Because we have to be a team and raise two children. I can’t cook every meal for us. There are going to be times when I’m run off my feet caring for the babies.”
“But you don’t have the babies yet.”
“No, I don’t, but we need to start now so we’ll be ready for them.”
He goes over to the counter and pours himself a cup of coffee. He takes a sip.
“I have a question for you.”
“Do you know how to cook?”
Slowly, he shakes his head.
“Well why didn’t you just say so? It would have saved us a lot of time.”
“Well, that’s easy to fix.”
“Yes. All you need to do is learn how to cook.”
“But it takes years, and it probably has to be when you’re young.”
“Who told you that?”
Oh boy. He’s sensitive about his mom. I’d better not even so much as imply any criticism of her. Besides, I can’t imagine she’d tell him he can’t cook.
“I don’t understand. What did she say?”
“She says learning to cook takes lots of practice.”
“So did you ask her to teach you?”
“No. I used to watch her sometimes and ask her how she did it so fast. She said, ‘with years of practice.’ I sort of understand what she does, but I’d do a terrible job if I tried.”
“That’s true. You might do a bad job of something the first time you tried it. Your mom’s being modest. I bet she learned in five minutes. And, given that you’re her son, I bet you can, too.”
He smiles uncertainly.
“Let’s decide what to have and then I’ll show you. What would you like?”
“Okay, let’s get started.”
It ends up being a lot more work and way messier than if I had made them myself, but that’s okay. It’s nice to see a big, macho man in the kitchen chopping vegetables.
The tacos are great, well, most of them, anyway.
“I’m exhausted,” he says after we’ve eaten.
“Me too. Do you know how to wash dishes?”
“Yeah, but I hate it.”
“Join the club and come with me.”
As the sink’s filling, I say, “Do you know how to work the washing machine and dryer?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Okay. We need clean towels soon, so once these dishes are done, I’ll show you how.”
“I’d rather make love.”
“Join the club, but this has to get done first.”
“How often do I have to do this?”
“Let’s see. On Thursdays and Sundays, we can make meals together, and I’ll show you things. I’ll make breakfast on three of the other days, and you on two of them. For dinner, I’ll do four and you do one. For laundry, you can wash your own clothes and our sheets. I’ll do my clothes and the towels. On your next day off, I’ll show you how to clean the house and you’ll be in charge of cleaning the living room.”
“Will you wash the dishes?”
“Whoever cooks the meal washes the dishes. If you’re running late for work after you make breakfast, I’ll exchange dinner dishes with you.”
I hand him the last plate and he dries it.
“Now let’s do that load of towels. For tonight, your job is to gather them all up and then watch me work the machines.”
A few minutes later, he brings me a basket of towels.
“Great. Let’s take these to the washing machine.”
He follows me down into the basement.
I flick on the light and open the washing machine.
“Just toss the towels in.”
“Now pour this detergent until it’s at this line for a small load, and this one for a large load. This load is big.”
I measure and pour it into the machine.
“Now for towels, we use these settings.”
I press the buttons.
“Now this one is START.”
I press it, and the machine starts to fill.
“Now we wait.”
I grin wickedly at him.
“Once the babies are born, Thursdays will be your day to look after them.”
“What?! I thought you were going to do all that stuff.”
“I need a break sometimes, just like you need days off from work.”
“But they’re babies, not work!”
“Yes, and babies are a lot of work. Changing diapers is messy. Feeding them takes forever. Getting them to stop crying is sometimes impossible.”
“But I’m a guy.”
“Have you ever heard of single fathers?”
“Yes, but I’m not one of those.”
“We don’t know what will happen. I could get sick. I hate to say this, but I could even get killed or die of something. Nobody knows the future.”
I put my hand on his arm.
“I’ll be right there with you. I’m not going to leave the babies with you alone for eight hours and go for a drive or something, at least not for the first few days. I can even be in the same room all the time for the first one or two. My dad did it with us. Mom left us alone with Dad lots of times. Sometimes it was just for an hour, but once, she even left the state to visit an old friend who was getting married in California. We were fine. If we hurry, we can make love before we need to put these in the dryer.”