I let out a low growl. Not a one of the folks from our class has accepted the invitation I went to so much trouble to send out. Not that I want to see any of ‘em. I really don’t. It’s just that as class vice-president, I feel like I’ve failed at my job.
“Laura, hon, can you come in here?” Pete hollers from the livin’ room. “Bonnie Sue just spit up all over me.”
I blow out a breath of exasperation as I pick up the cloth diaper I tried to hand him when he volunteered to give our youngest her bottle. He said he didn’t need it. “I have a technique,” he told me.
Some technique. When I walk in and see him tryin’ to balance our nine month old, her bottle, and his beer, I want to scream. I never touched a drop of alcohol, so what was I thinkin’ when I married the biggest alchie I know?
I pick up Bonnie Sue and rest her on my hip that’s ever expandin’ with this pregnancy—my fourth. She grins and gurgles, and my heart goes all melty on me.
Pete stretches out his arms. “Here, give her to me. I got this now.”
“No you don’t.” I pull her closer until she lets out a little squeal.
“You’re squeezin’ her so hard, you’re makin’ her sound like squeaky toy.”
Renee toddles into the room pulling her blanket along behind her. “Renee,” I say. “That thing is so dirty. Let me toss it in the washing machine with a load of towels.”
She scowls at me and hugs her blanket. “No. My binkie.”
I ponder taking it away from her, but I don’t think I can handle her screamin’, so I turn back to my husband. “Where’s Bubba?”
He bobs his head and gives me a look like I done lost my mind. “What do you think I am, Superman? I’m feedin’ Bonnie Sue. How do you expect me to do that and know where Bubba is?”
Mama was right when she said men can’t handle more than one thing at a time. It takes a woman to know how to juggle a houseful of young’uns and everything else that goes on around ‘em.
Pete puts down his beer and grabs Renee as she toddles past him again. “Where’s your big brother?”
“Never mind,” I say. “I’m sure he’s upstairs. I’ll go get him.”
When I arrive at the upstairs landing, I see his backside in the bathroom. Naked.
“Bubba, just what do you think you’re doing, young man?”
He turns around and gives me one of his wide-eyed looks. “Pee-pee potty.”
Holding my breath, I approach the doorway, knowing what I’m about to see won’t be a pretty sight. My knees buckle as I realize just how bad it is. My son has obviously been taking target practice at every single fixture in the bathroom.
“Bubba, finish up in the potty. We’re going downstairs so I can fix supper.”
He steps up on the little stool we’ve put in the kids’ bathroom and finishes his job. “Potty, Mama.”
“Good boy.” I look around and sigh. Maybe I can steal a few minutes after supper to come back up here and clean up.
I hear the phone ringing, but I don’t even bother trying to answer it. No one ever calls for me…at least not until recently, after the reunion invitations went out. It’s probably someone calling with regrets anyway.
When Bubba and I get back downstairs, I hear Pete sayin’, “A swig for you…” He lifts the bottle to Bonnie Sue’s mouth with the hand he’s holdin’ her with and lifts his beer with the other. “And a swig for me.”
I groan. This is not the life I thought I’d have.
* * *
By the end of the week, we have twenty-eight regrets and three acceptances. “I’ll call ‘em back and let ‘em know there won’t be a reunion,” I tell Pete.
“You’ll do no such thing. There’s no point in punishing the ones who wanna go to the reunion just because everyone else is a party pooper.”
“All three of ‘em are your friends. Why don’t you just do somethin’ with them? I’m not decoratin’ the gym just for you and three other guys.”
He leans over and kisses me on the cheek. “Good idea, hon. You’re the best.”
I live for times like this. Pete is sober and loving. The kids are all taking a nap. I’m over my preggers puking.
“I think it’s a little soon to start havin’ reunions,” Pete says. “I bet wild horses won’t be able to keep everyone away from the tenth.”
“Someone else is gonna have to be in charge of that one. I’m not goin’ through all this again.”
Pete smiles. “You know you will, hon. You’re always there when people need you.”
“Maybe that’ll just have to change.”
I start to go fix us a snack, but Pete pulls me to his chest and stretches his arms around me. “I like it when you’re all soft and squishy,” he whispers in my ear.
Any other guy sayin’ that, and I’d smack him. But Pete likes my womanly curves, and he doesn’t hesitate to tell me.
He cups my chin in his hand and tilts my face up. “Things will get easier soon,” he says softly.
I know he means well, but after havin’ three babies, I know what I’m in for as soon as the new one arrives. “Maybe you should get snipped after the baby comes.”
Pete’s face turns a scary shade of pale, and he starts coughing and sputtering. “I don’t know, Laura. That’s an awful drastic thing to do. What if you decide later that you want more young’uns?”
“We only planned to have two, remember? We’ve already doubled that.”
He recovers, and his expression softens. “And I can have four more if they’re all as wonderful as their mama.”
If there was ever any doubt why I married Pete, it vanishes in an instant. My heart pounds with love for this man who might be a lush, but he’s my lush. And maybe one of these days I’ll be able to fix him.