I walked around outside, the phone pressed against my ear. “Have you had any luck with your dad?”
Tommy’s weary sigh came across the line. “No, not really. He still doesn’t want you to come. I’m going to keep bugging him, though. Mom’s trying to help too.”
“I might just have to show up. He won’t really be able to say no if I’m standing on your doorstep.” At this point, I was seriously considering this option. It had been six months since Tommy and I had seen each other. I wanted to fly over to visit him during the upcoming holiday break, but Cody was proving difficult. My parents had, rather reluctantly, agreed, as had Tommy’s mother, but Cody was standing firm.
Tommy snorted softly. “He’d probably make you turn around and get back on a plane.”
“Well, one can hope, right? You’ll make him come around.”
“Yeah, I will. I miss you.”
I smiled softly. “I miss you too. It seems like there’s nothing to do here anymore.” Working at Simmie’s wasn’t nearly as fun without knowing Tommy would be there when my shift ended.
“You’ve got plenty to do. I’m the one surrounded by people who don’t speak my language.”
“You know,” I said wryly, “I think when you’re the minority, it’s you who doesn’t speak the language.”
I could veritably hear his eyes rolling. “Either way, I don’t have many people to talk to. Sarah is cool, but I can’t spend all my time with her.”
“Obviously you just need to sit alone in your room and think about how much you miss me.” I grinned, climbing the steps to the house while Tommy laughed in my ear. “That’s what you should be doing – pining for me.” When Tommy had first told me about Sarah and what had happened with her, I’d been a little jealous, but it had quickly washed away. I trusted him, and I was glad he had a friend in Windenburg.
“I guess I better go,” Tommy said softly. “Tomorrow I’ve got school and work, plus more trying to convince Dad.”
I wanted to ask him to stay on longer, but I bit my tongue. He needed to sleep; I shouldn’t be selfish. “Okay, baby. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Good night. Love you.”
“Night, baby. Love you, too.”
Caleb’s crying pulled me out of sleep as if I were slogging through quick sand. I nearly rolled directly onto the floor instead of making it to my feet. Somehow, I dragged myself across the room and carefully picked my son up, cradling him against me. This was the third time I’d been up with him tonight. Though he was, according to Mom, typically a sweet, easy to take care of baby during the day, he was fussy at night.
“Shh, sweetheart,” I murmured sleepily, rocking him while I fed him. Drowsily, I hummed him a lullaby. I had to fight not to fall asleep on my feet.
When he was finally sleeping peacefully in his bassinet again almost an hour later, I checked my phone. Six am. I couldn’t even go back to sleep. I usually got up half an hour from now. I wanted to cry from frustration, but I was too exhausted. I just trudged upstairs to shower.
My chin dipped towards my chest. The lines I’d written for my homework blurred as my eyes slipped shut.
I jerked my head up, stretching my eyes open wide. I had to get my homework done while Caleb was asleep. When he woke up, he’d need to be fed again and that would be an ordeal of feeding and burping and probably changing his onesie because he spit up on it. Then it would be time for dinner, and I’d be too exhausted to do my homework.
You’re too exhausted now.
I rubbed my eyes and stood up to pace around a little to wake myself up. This had become pretty routine for me. It had also become routine for my homework to go unfinished. My straight A’s were slipping into B’s already and Caleb was only a month old.
“Honey, why don’t you go to bed? I can mind Caleb for the rest of the day.”
I turned to look at Mom. She was giving me such a sympathetic look, but I hated it. I can do this. I can be a good Mom. “Thanks, but I’m okay, Mom.”
“Why don’t you come sit down with me for a bit?” Her tone didn’t leave much room for argument, so I followed her into the living room, leaving my homework forgotten on the table. “Nora,” she said as she sat down on the couch, “I’m worried about you.”
I stifled a yawn. “Really, I’m fine.”
“You’re really not. Honey, I’m so proud of you for taking responsibility like you have. You’re such a good mother to Caleb. But wearing yourself out isn’t the answer. Carter and I would be happy to look after Caleb at night so you can get some rest.”
I should my head vehemently. “You already take care of him all day while I’m at school! I’m his mother. I have to be responsible for taking care of him.”
“And you are. But, Nora, how is you exhausting yourself beneficial to him?” Mom gestured to me. “You’re a zombie walking around here everyday. I know your grades have to be slipping. We have Josh’s old room. We can turn it into a nursery for Caleb, and Carter and I can take over the night time feedings. You’ll be more alert and happy during the day when you’re home if you can get some more rest. And you can pour that happiness into Caleb.” She reached over and squeezed my hand. “We love Caleb, honey. Taking care of him is a joy.” She smiled gently. “You know Carter is tickled pink to be a grandpa.”
I smiled a little. Even though he’d at first been unsure at what role I would want him to have in Caleb’s life, I’d assured him that he was every bit as much a grandfather to my son as my own father was. I don’t think one could exactly have too many grandparents. “I just…I want to be a good mom. And I don’t want to – to be a burden on you and Carter.”
Mom wrapped her arm around my shoulders. “You are a great mother, Nora. The fact that you worry so much about it proves it. Let us help you, honey.”
I sniffed softly and hugged her tight. “Okay.” I pulled back to look at her. “But there’s one condition. I take over on the weekends. “
She smiled. “Deal.”