After I left the hospital Joel and I decided that I would come home. At least for now. Truly, it was the only option. It is best for the kids and we have full-time care so I won’t be alone. That was Joel’s one condition, “Just in case.” He explained.
I have set up a little respite for myself in the guest area on the 3rd floor. It is a big open room with comfy furniture, high ceilings and wide open windows overlooking the back garden. It also has the world’s most wonderful bathtub where I spend at least an hour every day.
I never took baths before. I was too busy and my mind was always racing. But now it is one of my favourite parts of the day.
No one every pops in to visit me. Of course, I see Jill every Sunday but I haven’t heard from any of my old “friends” at all. Joel tells me they ask after me and a few of them sent cards and flowers when I was in the hospital but since then, nothing. I don’t mind. I think it would be awkward. I don’t know what I would say to them now.
Every morning I get up early and make breakfast for the kids. I never really cooked before either. Secretly I was afraid I would be terrible at it. But now I don’t care. In fact, I love my time in the kitchen. It doesn’t always turn out how I want it to but they never seem to mind.
Often one or both of the kids will wake up while I am still getting things ready and they will stumble in, bleary-eyed, and watch. We will chat about the day to come and sometimes, if we have time, we will steal a snuggle on the couch nearby. We nuzzle noses and share our dreams from the night before and I think to myself, “How did I live without this?”
But it is not quite as wonderful as it sounds. Joel will peak his head in nervously every few minutes, afraid that things might be unravelling. I don’t really blame him, I guess. I just smile reassuringly. It will just take time.
The funny thing is the kids don’t seem to be fazed at all. They had a few sessions with a psychologist when I was first hospitalized and have been back once since I got home but she seems to think there is no reason to have them go regularly. At least not until Joel and I figure out what to do long-term and who knows when that will be. I can’t see beyond the next hour at this point. It is still beyond my grasp.
I marvel at my children.
Once our morning ritual is over and Joel leaves for the day we are not alone again until he gets home which can often be after they are in bed. I know this will change but it still makes me sad sometimes. Nora is here in the day and she is fabulous. I tire easily and she will takeover when I need to rest but until then she just sits quietly while I play with the kids. I know she wants them to be close to me. She will often smile sweetly at me, thrilled to see us happy together.
But once Nora leaves at 6:00 pm it is Jessa’s shift and everything changes. I am now the outsider. I have usually retreated to my room by the time she arrives only coming out to read and kiss the kids at bedtime because that is what she has approved. She watches me, judging, from the rocking chair in the corner as the three of us snuggle on my daughter’s twin bed interrupting me to say, “Just one more book.” Or, “Time to say good night.”
When Jessa is here Jessa is in charge. And she never lets me forget it. I believe she likes this shift of power. I can feel it. It’s like revenge not only for what I did to my family but for all of those years I treated her like “the help”. The few times I try to make a suggestion she turns to me, glaring, and tells me she only takes direction from Mister. That’s what she calls Joel.
I mentioned it to Joel once but he shrugged it off reminding me that Jessa was here when I wasn’t, which seems like a low blow to me but I ignore it. And then he reassures me that it will just take time. She is very protective of the children. I need to earn her trust back. I don’t think about it too hard because when I do I wonder whether Joel has actually instructed her to be like this and I think I am better off not knowing.